Stolen lives or lack of rights? Gender, migration and trafficking

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Despite an internationally recognized definition of trafficking that encompasses migration and exploitation in any economic sector, research and action on trafficking of adults has largely focused on migrant women working in the sex sector. This narrow focus on women and sex work has enabled a development of a women-centred framework but at the expense of paying due attention to gender issues in trafficking. This article identifies the lack of gender analysis in trafficking as a current lacuna in research and sketches ways in which it can be redressed. Firstly, it argues that trafficking needs to be understood as part of labour migration. Secondly, the analysis addresses the two essential elements encompassed within the concept of trafficking, namely movement and exploitation. Using illustrations from Latin America, the paper identifies social and economic processes that lead to gendered migration as well as those that increase migrant's vulnerability to trafficking. Case study material is used to show that moving away from the victimization of people who have been affected by trafficking towards recognising migrant's agency is a first step in ensuring that human and labour rights of migrant workers, who have been trafficked, are protected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-47
Number of pages27
JournalLabour, Capital and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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