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Human trafficking in general and the trafficking of women in particular have been attracting increasing interest from states, international bodies, non-governmental organisations, the media and academia. The greater visibility conferred on this phenomenon has translated, on a national and international level, into policies deed to combat and prevent it, whose efficiency is debateable. This is the result not only of a lack of understanding of the specific features of the trafficking of women, but also of the fact that other objectives underlying the construction of these policies hardly meet the subjective needs and expectations of trafficked women.

Thus, on the other side of the line we find a space which is a non-territory in legal and political terms, a space unthinkable in terms of the rule of law, human rights and democracy Santos, Essentially, we find people who do not exist, either in social or legal terms. These spaces are constructed on the basis of new forms of slavery, the illegal trafficking of human organs, child labour and the exploitation of prostitution.

This includes, in particular, criminalisation of the phenomenon and its active agents, and enhanced rights and support for its victims. Whilst, for some, this is the most appropriate direction to follow, others feel that other aspects should be taken into consideration in order to make these measures and protection truly effective.

Firstly, the initiatives and political strategies deed to combat trafficking, in particular sex trafficking, have not met with any consensus on a definition of this specific type of trafficking. In fact, competing definitions can easily be found and there is little agreement among researchers and activists. Broader or more restricted definitions of the concept of sex trafficking influence, from the outset, the figures that are presented and, subsequently, the measures deed to combat it.

It is difficult to find solid and reliable figures for sex trafficking, whether on a national, continental or worldwide level, and this has led to two extreme positions which, as such, can effectively do little to help trafficked women. Each international organisation presents us with figures that may vary by thousands or even millions.

Some refer to very high s, whilst others contest this and believe that sex trafficking is a minor phenomenon. Both positions contain dangers. The second runs the risk of not helping women who really are in danger. As some authors argue e. Kempadoo, athe fight against human trafficking may have different impacts in different countries in the global North and South.

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Its causes are intrinsically linked to other social, economic, political and cultural phenomena, meaning that in several cases it does not just involve a violation of rights resulting from trafficking. The intercontinental slave trade began with European expansion and the creation of the world system at the end of the 15th century, with the seafaring voyages of Portugal and Castile, in what some authors have called the first modernity see Mignolo, The trafficking of individuals via the slave trade across the Atlantic therefore enters history, as Paul Gilroy argues in The Black Atlanticas an economic and migratory flow that was an integral part of modernity.

Nowadays, the prominence of human trafficking shows that the abolition of slavery in various countries has not put an end to the plague of human trafficking, nor the place it occupies in modern economic and migratory routes. Although it is true that this illegal, informal phenomenon run by criminal organisations has a completely different role from that of slavery, which was central to the formation of the world system, it is still inextricably related to it.

The point is that, whilst the practices of trafficking are not central to the global transnational markets or the global world in which we live, as slavery once was, they are nevertheless embedded in the inequalities and injustices of the distribution of wealth promoted and encouraged by the world system. Thus, although colonialism and the legitimate trading of individuals between countries have ended, the profound inequalities between North and South are nowadays the driving force behind a clandestine logic that le to subhumanity Santos, For Marx, one of the conditions of capitalist wealth was the exploitation of labour.

Although it is based on the idea of free labour, capitalism, in fact, has a tendency to use not only labour but also space, the surrounding environment and nature in a destructive way.

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Capital tends to weaken or destroy its own conditions of production, since the constant crises caused by increased costs always lead to new attempts to restructure the conditions of production in order to reduce costs. These conditions imply that everything should be treated as a commodity, including labour. These characteristics of capitalism were very evident in its early days, when the accumulation of wealth presupposed, as already stated, slavery, pillage and colonisation.

However, these forms of over-exploitation are not only confined to one phase of capitalism. Capitalist societies worldwide always need these and other forms of over-exploitation in order to maintain capital in the form that we know it. With the advent of neoliberal globalisation this has become even more evident. With specific regard to the trafficking of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation, this has meant that, with less state control, a global sex industry has developed in which a particular group of people, namely women, are repeatedly exploited.

Obviously the logic and dynamics of self-determination and even emancipation that are involved in the sex industry but evade the web of trafficking also need to be taken into consideration. During the 20 th century the creation of wealth was subject to a series of state and non-state regulations which allowed for some redistribution of wealth and the creation of secure conditions for the populations who did not possess wealth, specifically social and economic rights such as unemployment benefits, public health, education, social security, etc.

Social redistribution measures were essential in creating a safety net to alleviate social risk, preventing individuals from falling into deep poverty. This net has nowadays been weakened to such an extent that, when faced with unemployment, even the middle classes find themselves in need of assistance. In a situation in which the regulations created at national level fail, capitalism as a form of global economic organisation remains in a more comfortable position from which to pursue its goals, with consequences that are increasingly evident.

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We shall highlight two of these. In order to prevent economic collapse, the state has supported these investors through taxation, to the extent of virtually creating a welfare state for capital, when it does not exist for citizens. This means that even in the richest country in the world, people are more vulnerable. In various countries in different continents we are beginning to encounter forms of slave labour and over-exploitation of the labour force which are dragging certain groups of people into non-human conditions.

If we look back at history, we can see that Indians, indigenous populations and women, amongst other groups, fell into this category, to which, nowadays, many immigrants can be added. These people are not only illegal, but actually have no existence, from a legal point of view. There are women who are forced to work as prostitutes against their willand also situations in which female prostitutes are forced to work under conditions which they cannot choose. However, the new element which capitalism has added to slavery is that workers are free to sell their labour.

Therefore, according to certain views, women should be free to sell their sexual availability as labour. This position is not consensual, as we shall see later. However, in the forms of over-exploitation we are aware of, of which sexual trafficking is one example, women who sell their sexual availability as labour are also forced to sell not only their availability, but their freedom and identity as well. Ehrenreich and Hochschild, argue that any policy deed to fight human trafficking must extend beyond criminalising traffickers to reinforce the rights of immigrants and workers.

In the specific case of the trafficking of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation, various authors also argue that prostitution must be included in the legal-normative framework of each country. However, there are various interpretations of the course the law should follow in this area: whilst some opinions veer towards criminalising prostitution e.

Barry,others demand that prostitution be regulated as a form of employment e. Kempandoo, b. This topic will be developed in the next section. Sex trafficking makes the concept more complex by raising questions that ultimately transcend it, namely ethical questions about society itself.

These questions are embedded in the consciousness and ethical paradigms by which we are regulated, some of which are social taboos. It is these mirrors that allow routines to be created to ensure the functioning of society. One of these mirrors is undoubtedly the law — i. Thus we encounter, both in the legislation relating to trafficking and in its application, stereotypes and preconceptions that merit consideration.

Female circumcision, the use of the veil in French schools, polygamy and prostitution have entered the political discourse of many Western countries, controversially revealing the presence of migrant women. Far from serving as a basis for an in-depth reflection on the integration of migrant women or multiculturalism, these issues have been used as a pretext for once again viewing elements of the culture and religion of immigrants as disturbing.

Migrant women have now changed from being invisible to being demonised and instrumentalised Gaspard, Thus, whether due to their invisibility or their demonisation, migrant women have become particularly vulnerable to falling into the hands of networks of traffickers who exploit them and violate their dignity. The fact that they have no visibility with regard to the specific nature and complexity of their situations also favours negligent reception policies.

They are no longer the qualified migrants who benefit Western Europe, but now include undesirables who add to the rise in crime. Thus, whilst admitting that the trafficking of women in these regions is a major and serious problem, the author questions the almost sudden emergence of this phenomenon.

Foreigners are essentially the recruiters, carriers and sometimes the controllers of the women. This is evident from the study carried out by Manuela Ribeiro et al. This also appears to be the view of certain civil society organisations interviewed by us, who work directly with female prostitutes.

Two risks emerge from this. I think that the link between prostitution and immigrant communities only came about because immigration became a topic for debate in society, and from then onwards certain stereotypes were created and one of those that I can see has been created, a negative one, is to associate immigrant women, particularly those from certain countries, with prostitution.

From the moment they arrive at the airport, the treatment they receive on entry is different. We have acquired the idea of a certain profile. E7, non-governmental organisation 4. The relationship between prostitution and trafficking and the distinction, where it exists, between enforced and voluntary prostitution are controversial matters which require a brief historical contextualisation.

In the 19 th century, the intensification of female migration as an independent and self-determined strategy soon created a certain fear of the immorality that might be introduced into Western countries, specifically due to the perception that women had migrated to work as prostitutes.

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This led to a racially and sexually based panic that gave rise to the fear of white slave trafficking. The exploitation of prostitution was punishable, and consent to these practices irrelevant. Some governments believed that, although the Convention did not directly criminalise prostitution, it contained certain provisions that appeared to point in this direction, thus contradicting provisions on prostitution contained in national legislation.

It was also argued that the clauses in the Convention did not make a clear distinction between voluntary and forced prostitution. It was in the s that the feminist movement began to wake up to the question of international trafficking and prostitution, although without reaching a consensus on the matter. Kathleen Barryone of the founders of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women CATW and one of the most active voices on this front, argues that sexual exploitation is a political condition and the basis of the subordination of and discrimination against women and the perpetuation of patriarchy.

Those who support this position make no distinction between enforced and voluntary prostitution and consider that any concession by the state towards legalisation is essentially a concession to constant violations of human rights, dignity and sexual autonomy. As trafficking is closely linked to prostitution, abolitionist feminists argue that the former is more easily fought by fighting prostitution and believe that the path followed by various states, including Holland and Germany, which involves establishing a distinction between trafficking and prostitution, is dangerous.

In their view, by legalising prostitution the message that states are sending out to women is that, within a context of culturally acceptable patriarchal practices, when all other opportunities have run out society will provide them with another which they should not refuse, namely selling their own body. The latter does not see prostitution as an essentially degrading activity or as an instance of the extreme sexual oppression of women, but rather as an activity that reflects the right of women to control their own bodies, which includes providing sexual services.

They therefore argue that prostitution is a job that should have a legally established framework so that the rights of sex workers, who are not necessarily only those who practice prostitution, can be respected. According to them, the abolitionist feminists have created an image of the woman from the South as the eternal submissive who is ignorant, bound by traditional cultural concepts and victimised, whilst Western women emerge as the civilized saviours.

In our understanding, this is not to deny that sex trafficking exists as a form of violence against women, but to demand that multiple perspectives be taken into when considering the phenomenon. Sex trafficking cannot be understood as a one-dimensional interpretation based on gender and the oppression of women by patriarchy, since the complexity of the actual sex industry evades this analysis. Trafficking emerges not only from patriarchal relationships but also from state, capitalist, imperialist and racial power Kempadoo, a: 61since all converge in the sex market.

Moreover, these are variables that have made feminist studies enter into a dialogue with other theories. This is why we are increasingly seeing variables such as race, religion or sexual orientation being taken into consideration in studies on domestic violence against women, for example.

For these authors, however, analyses of sex trafficking persist in maintaining a closed dialogue, influenced by a conservative view of prostitution as a form of violence against women in an industry — the sex industry — created and managed by men, in which women have no autonomy or power to act. This view is particularly important when a Southern epistemology is introduced into the analysis, forcing us to take into the strategies of women who, due to various factors economic, cultural, the consequences of war, etc.

From a post-colonial perspective, these authors therefore point out that attention should be paid to women from the South so that their interests can be understood and the social relations in which they engage are not constantly seen as archaic and authoritarian. Their consent is a central issue here, and their voice, migration choices and survival strategies should be taken into.

Some of these women are migrant workers and not sex slaves; they want security but do not want to be saved Kempadoo, b. Sweden, for example, criminalises procurement and punishes clients who resort to sexual services provided by trafficked women, whilst the German and Dutch governments have decriminalised prostitution and established rules to regulate employment in this area.

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Glenn-Milo Santos, PhD, MPH