Friday, October 01, 2010

Related Movements

Many diverse social justice, human rights, and anti-violence movements intersect with the anti-trafficking movement. Looking at the trafficking nexus in fields ranging from workers rights, to immigration issues, to the environment, to violence against women, provides insights into human trafficking, its causes, and important considerations for anti-trafficking efforts. This month, we explore some of those intersections.

Lauren: Internal Displacement and Political Refugees
Upon returning to NYU for my senior year, I decided to take a course in NYU’s journalism program concerning topics and issues surrounding the Middle East, which opened my eyes to two much larger issues that are still taking place in that region, internal displacement and political refugee. At the end of 2009 there were an estimated 3.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Middle East, according to the Internal Displacement Monoritoring Centre. Internal displacement occurs when a person is forced to move due to human rights violations or endangerment to their life, yet unlike political refugees who flee the country, internally displaced persons stay within that country’s borders. IDPs around the globe outnumber the amount of political refugees two to one, and yet this group is not guaranteed the protection or aid under the 951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol that political refugees are. Considering historical evidence of violence and terrorism that can arise from ostracizing groups of people from society, it seems negligent that the international community is not taking higher measures of precaution in providing aid to IDPs and refugees. I also cannot help but wonder, are internal displacement persons and political refugees not victims of Human Trafficking? Are they not subjected to the same human rights violations, violence, and subjection that would allow them the attention that human trafficking victims are allowed?

Jennifer: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Domestic violence and sexual assault have many intersections with human trafficking. Victims of sex trafficking are also victims of sexual assault, and intimate partners may be traffickers for both forced labor and commercial sex. Insights into victims' mindsets and the ways that psychological coercion is used by perpetrators to keep victims from leaving pioneered in the domestic violence movement are also valuable for assisting trafficking victims. Understanding the cycle of violence and the ways that power dynamics are used in relationships to control people can help those assisting victims. Victim-centered approaches and empowerment approaches that were developed in the domestic violence and sexual assault contexts also provide a framework for helping trafficking victims. In many places that do not have specific anti-trafficking service providers, domestic violence and sexual assault agencies provide shelter and other services to trafficking victims. Many of these organizations have expanded their programs to include anti-trafficking work, in recognition of the intersections with domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as in recognition of the expertise that many of these organizations bring to assisting victims of abuse and violence.

Amanda: Anti-Sweatshop Movement:
While the anti-sweatshop movement has more broad range workers rights goals than the anti-trafficking movement, there are quite a few intersections between the two groups. Primarily, the industries that attract attention from the anti-sweatshop movement should attract the attention of the anti-trafficking movement. These industries are largely free from real outside scrutiny and therefore are "ideal" places to exploit workers or victims of trafficking. An additional intersection is in how we approach fighting the problem. One approach is through consumer power. The anti-sweatshop movement asks concerned citizens not to buy from companies that use sweatshop labor. More recently the anti-trafficking movement has asked supporters not to buy from companies whose product chains may contain slave labor (think electronics or the shrimp industry in certain countries). There are still many things to learn from the anti-sweatshop movement though, including effectively utilizing national media to draw attention to the issue, as they did with several major clothing and athletic wear companies.

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