The UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health

Victims of Human Trafficking: A Multidisciplinary Problematization of a Category

Start: Jun 07, 2017 09:00 AM 

End: Jun 07, 2017 07:00 PM

Location: Lecture Theatre 1.02 Malet Place Engineering Building, UCL

This event, hosted by the Institute of Advanced Studies partnered with the Centre for Gender and Global Health, aims to tackle the category of human trafficking victims from a multidisciplinary critical perspective by bringing together experts who approach human trafficking both from different disciplines within the academy (history, legal sciences, medical sciences, human geography, anthropology) and from different positions outside it (frontline aid service providers, independent consultants, international organizations). 

The Centre for Gender and Global Health will be represented by Dr Ayesha Ahmad who will be speaking on “Gender based violence: vulnerability in migrants’ journeys”.

Human trafficking is per se a phenomenon lying at the intersection of different fields and discourses: migration, organized crime, prostitution, modern slavery, human rights, etc. Prior to its approval, the 2000 UN definition of human trafficking went through a long process of negotiations and confrontations which was essentially dominated by the neo-abolitionist anti-prostitution lobby along with governments’ anti-migration securitarian agenda v. radical feminists and groups promoting migrants’ rights.

Human trafficking was eventually defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.

This comprehensive definition has not been able to dispel definitional ambiguities and practical misuses. On the ground, victims of human trafficking often intermingle with migrant sex-workers, smuggled migrants, undocumented migrants, humanitarian migrants, victims of trauma, sexual abuse and domestic violence, victims of slavery, forced labour and debt bondage, victims of human/child/women rights. Just to mention some of the categories along which victims of human trafficking are studied, un/assisted, criminalized and stigmatized.

In the notable abundancy of literature on human trafficking of the last years, the critique to human trafficking has been excellently done by numerous scholars from different disciplines. While this event proceeds from that critique, it does not aim to review it. The main objective is to gain better understanding around the theoretical and practical advantages and disadvantages of the category of human trafficking 14 years after the entrance into force of the “Trafficking Protocol”.  On a destruens part, the ideological nature of the category, its detrimental use in relation to sex-workers’ and migrants’ rights protection will be discussed, arguing for the necessity to revision the category altogether. On a more construens side, this event aims to open new scenarios where ways could be found to turn the category of human trafficking into a useful instrument to improve the rights and the services for the most vulnerable migrants. 

All welcome. 

Please register here

For more information contact Runa Lazzarino

Download poster here.

Programme here