Trafficking Policy
Research Project:

Examining the Effects of
U.S. Trafficking Laws and Policies

Labor Migration - Sex Work - Trafficking Laws and Policies - Forced Labor & Slavery

This site collects and presents research and commentary regarding the effects of United States Trafficking Laws and Policies in the US and internationally. The Trafficking Policy Research Project provides an outline of alternative analyses and strategies for the global problems of trafficking and forced labor, prioritizing welfare of sex workers in the context of migrant labor. Trafficking in the sex industry is examined within the range of abuses within the sex industries with goals of decriminalization and sex industry reform. Links are primarily from Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Network of Sexwork Projects , the International Human Rights Law Group, and Human Rights Watch.

Current Issues and Reports: Trafficking Laws and Policies

Migrants in the UK Sex Industry (October 2009)
The main aim of the project was to improve the understanding of the links between the sex industry and migration in the UK, by drawing on the ways in which migrants themselves described their experiences and analysed their histories. The links between the sex industry and migration in the UK are predominantly addressed in current public debates in terms of trafficking and exploitation. Interviews with 100 migrant women, men and transgender people working in all of the main jobs available within the sex industry, and from the most relevant areas of origin (South America, Eastern Europe, EU and South East Asia), suggest that although some migrants are subject to coercion and exploitation, a majority are not. Link to video of seminar!

Prostitution and Trafficking: The Anatomy of a Moral Panic refers to the above research.

Obama Administration Policies on Trafficking (June 2009)
Dr. Melissa Ditmore, in The Guardian states that "The new TIP report suggests that the Obama administration is taking a more effective approach. Instead of adopting the Bush administration's myopic focus on sex trafficking, the Obama administration has expanded the definition of trafficking to include a wider variety of examples of labour abuses than ever before."

December 2008- The Passage and History of of HR7311: William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act
Human rights activist object to the house version of the TVPRA (HR3887), in concert with the US Department of Justice. The final TVPRA, passed in December 2008, addressed some concerns of human rights activists, however some issues remain. The earlier House version of HR 3887 had placed all commercial sex under the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

Urgent Item: Department of Justice, ICE, Targets Trafficking Victims for Exposing Their Plight also see New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice

"...When defense subcontractor Signal trafficked them to labor camps in the Gulf Coast and held them in forced labor, these workers fought back. They escaped indentured servitude, triggering a major DOJ investigation into criminal trafficking. They walked from New Orleans to Washington, DC in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, to show Congress the brutal realities of the US guestworker program. And they launched a 29 day-long hunger strike, to pressure the DOJ to prosecute Signal on charges of criminal trafficking. As a result of speaking out publically, a group of these men were targeted in an ICE raid. On October 28, 2008 - days before the presidential election - ICE arrested over 20 of these workers in a terrifying immigration raid in Fargo, North Dakota.(more...)"

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women Issues Report on Collateral Damage of Anti-Trafficking Policies

This report reviews the impact of anti-trafficking measures on human rights in 8 countries: Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each country chapter provides an overview of human trafficking, the current legal framework concerning all aspects of anti-trafficking efforts, specific laws and policies and their implications on key groups of people, and a critical analysis of the human rights impact of these measures specifically on women. This anthology emphasises the critical need for a re-assessment of anti-trafficking initiatives around the globe in order that human rights do not get written off as ‘collateral damage’ in combating human trafficking.


DMSC, Indian Sex Workers' Organization and Self-Regulatory Model to Combat Trafficking (Launched Dec 2007)
"Ever since 1997, when DMSC activists articulated the issue at the First National Conference of Sex Workers, the Organisation has grappled with the problem of underage girls trafficked into sex work sites and of unwilling women duped/coerced/forced into sex work. DMSC is active in addressing and challenging the structural issues that frame the everyday reality of sexworkers lives as they relate to their material deprivation and social exclusion. From this standpoint, it stands against any form of exploitation and infringement of rights of human beings that includes sexworkers and their children. DMSC is explicit, too, about its stand vis-a-vis forced or coerced labour in any form- if sexwork is work like any other, then it must be subject to certain norms and conditions- decided upon and enforced by the workers in the trade- that must be fulfilled before anyone can start as a sexworkers..."

Summary Report:Human Rights Impact of Anti-trafficking Interventions: Developing an Assessment Tool (July-07):
"In recent years, non-governmental organisations, specialists and advocates in the field of trafficking in human beings, migrants’ rights and sex workers’ rights and related fields have observed with growing concern various negative consequences of anti-trafficking interventions." Published by HOM, Aim for Human Rights

Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry by Laura María Agustín

This groundbreaking book sets out to explode several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work; that migrants who sell sex are passive victims; and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' disempowers them. Based on extensive research amongst migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustín, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry. Although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.


Taking the Pledge is a 13-minute film featuring sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand and more! They describe the problems created by the 'anti-prostitution pledge' required to receive USAID and PEPFAR funds.
Produced by the Network of Sex Work Projects.
In English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles. Watch in full-screen mode to read the subtitles.

Anti-Prostitution Advocate, Sigma Huda, UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Found Guilty in Corruption Case, Sentenced to 3 Years (8-28-07) Former Board member of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women recently convicted and sentenced in Bangladesh.

Recent Media Reports: Trafficking and Moral Panic