Sex trafficking and moral harm: Politicised understandings and depictions of the trafficked experience

O'Brien, Erin, Carpenter, Belinda J., & Hayes, Sharon L. (2013) Sex trafficking and moral harm: Politicised understandings and depictions of the trafficked experience. Critical Criminology, 21(4), pp. 401-415.

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This paper explores notions of harm in sex work discourse, highlighting the extent to which essentialist ideas of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ sex have pervaded trafficking policy. In a comparative examination of Australian Parliamentary Inquiries and United States Congressional Hearings leading to the establishment of anti-trafficking policy, we identify the stories that have influenced legislators, and established a narrative of trafficking heavily dependent upon assumptions of the inherent harm of sex work. This narrative constructs a hierarchy of victimisation, which denies alternative discourses of why women migrate for sex work. We argue that it is not sexual commerce that is harmful, but pathological, systemic inequalities and entrenched disadvantage that are harmful. A narrow narrative of trafficking fails to adequately depict this complexity of the trafficked experience.

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4 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 59292
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: human trafficking, prostitution, sex work, migration
DOI: 10.1007/s10612-013-9183-6
ISSN: 1572-9877
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at SpringerLink
Deposited On: 24 Apr 2013 03:59
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:10

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