Trafficking in women in the Context of Sexual Exploitation: theoretical and empirical debates
Centre for Social Studies Centre for Social Studies Coimbra, Portugal
One of the most visible forms of trafficking today is that of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation. This is a complex phenomenon, with many aspects, and many, too, are the inequalities that underlie it: economic inequality; the division of borders between rich and poor; certain of the first world?s migration policies which, instead of organising immigration, push it into the arms of mafias and criminal gangs; and the ?desperate expectations? which get people to believe in promises of a better life in a world which has fewer and fewer certainties.
In this paper, based on a research project developed, I will critically discuss the measures to combat this phenomenon. Are they incorporated into the broader perspective of combating violence practised against women? Do they take into consideration that these women are different and come from disparate social and cultural regions or do they fall into the basic formulation of women as a homogeneous category? Those measures are a priority in the concerns over human rights, or are instrumentalised by both reactionary groups, in terms of sexual morality, demanding the abolition of prostitution, and by some States which, besides showing altruist concerns, wish to control their borders? Also, I will discuss the binary system of legal logic in what concerns sexual traffic, namely the consent/nonconsent binary opposites. It should be noted that defining the concept of trafficking in women for sexual exploitation, essentially involves a social construct of what it means to be a victim. Thus, there appear to be several levels of victimisation which correspond to different types of victim, according to the centrality of the consent. Finally, I?ll analyse the role of the feminist movement in this matter. These and other questions will be analysed concerning the Portuguese and the European context.