Sex Trafficking In Canada

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Sex Trafficking in Canada

Sex Trafficking in Canada


The trafficking in persons, particularly the trafficking of women into the sex industry, is a relatively new issue on the Canadian political scene (Smith 2006). It was late in 2003 before the Federal Government acknowledged both the seriousness and prevalence of trafficking in persons and developed a federal policy package aimed towards combating the repugnant trade of trafficking in people. In comparison, the international community has been responding to trafficking for some time. The discussion will focus on both the emerging policy framework for responding to trafficking and the accompanying development of trafficking-related discourses in the Canadian context.

The study does not aim to canvass the ideological and political debates that have dominated the trafficking agenda to date. Rather, it will highlight the extent to which ideological divisions between feminists and activists have contributed to a failure to develop a more comprehensive critique of national and international responses to trafficking. Linking the global response to the emerging national response reveals the dominance of narrow frameworks for understanding and responding to trafficking. The study calls for the exploration of alternative frameworks and for a new feminist agenda to be developed for engaging with the rapid expansion of national and international policy responses to address people trafficking, specifically the trafficking of women into the sex industry. (Oosterbaan 2008)

The Feminist Debate

Within the feminist scholarship, sex trafficking has traditionally been associated with prostitution. In the final decades of the twentieth century this debate intensified and remains contested. Central to this debate has been the notion of consent: that is, whether women can choose prostitution as a profession. The early stages of contemporary feminist analysis of prostitution leant towards a moral definition of prostitution, portraying the practice as a deviant activity and a form of violence against women. More recently, the notion of prostitution as sex work has become more widespread, as women working in the sex industry have fought to have sex work recognized as a legitimate form of labor.

Contemporary feminist engagement with ant trafficking initiatives is split along the same ideological lines as views on prostitution and thus the two dominant streams within feminist scholarship have addressed sex trafficking from opposing positions. (Shively 2008)While the debate and discussion to date has been both extensive and complex, it is only possible to canvass here the broad issues central to both perspectives. The most prominent group of neo-abolitionists is the Coalition against Trafficking in Women (CATW). CATW views prostitution as a form of gender-based violence. Consequently, trafficking in women is understood broadly as any practice that involves moving people within and across local or national borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation (Rocke 2008). Thus, from this perspective, both sex trafficking and prostitution is two sides of the same coin; the issue of consent is irrelevant in distinguishing between them, as sex work is never a free choice for women. So, trafficking is nothing else but globalised prostitution and prostitution is often anything else but domestic ...
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