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War on Terror & War on Trafficking – A New Zine Released!

Date: May 22, 2011

Just in time for my workshop at San Francisco Sex Worker Film & Arts Festival next Friday, I announce the publication of my new zine/booklet, War on Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement.

It is a product of my extensive research into the anti-trafficking movement over the last couple of years, in which I expose many premises of the U.S. domestic anti-sex trafficking movement to be false, and challenge how the movement itself has strayed away from feminist principles, and is increasingly aligning itself with the fundamentalist Christian right and contributing to the militarization of our society.

The zine is available for previewing as a PDF file and for purchase at my zine store.

Table of contents looks like this (some items are linked to a previous blog post on a related topic):

Introduction:
Why feminists must confront the anti-trafficking movement

Chapter 1 The Three Most Common Myths
1.0: Why “facts” presented by the anti-trafficking movement are wrong
1.1: Myth #1: Average age of entry into prostitution is thirteen
1.2: Myth #2: 300,000 children are at risk of being sexually exploited
1.3: Myth #3: 1/3 of 1.6 million annual runaways are sold within 48 hours

Chapter 2 Other Myths and Misinformations
2.0 “Pornland” and other problems with Operation Cross Country
2.1: World Cup, Super Bowl, and the Olympics: an international panic
2.2: The censorship of Craigslist: unintended consequences

Chapter 3 Examining Economic Arguments
3.0: “End Demand” approach harms women working in the sex trade
3.1: Does “economic coercion” equal human trafficking?

Chapter 4 War on Terror and War on Trafficking
4.0: Fiction, Lies, and the militarization of anti-trafficking movement

Conclusion:
How anti-trafficking movement distorts reality and harms women

Here is the full text of the introduction:

Human trafficking is “modern-day slavery,” and many of its victims are women and children. If so, why should a feminist have to “confront” the movement against human trafficking? Let me be clear that human trafficking is a serious problem in the United States, and we need to do something about it.

I first became aware of the issue in the early 2000s at a conference about domestic violence. What I learned at the time was that while Violence Against Women Act (1994) and Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000) had been enacted, domestically trafficked victims–many of whom are working in the sex industry–could not access services and protections under these laws. I joined the effort to raise awareness about the issue and to expand relief provided through these legislations.

“Human trafficking” was a new term then. While there have been earlier uses in some publication (the earliest mainstream use being a Christian Science Monitor article in 1996), it did not attain the meaning it has now until around 2000, when TVPA passed; when the term was used prior, it frequently meant the same thing as smuggling, which is often exploitative and can lead to trafficking, but is generally consensual).

A search on news article database shows that there were 3 total references to phrases “human trafficking” and “trafficking in humans” before 2000. It was mentioned 9 times in 2000, 41 times in 2001, and entered three digits for the first time in 2005. In 2010, as many as 501 articles found on the database referred to either phrases.

EBSCO search result

I mention the origin of the term “human trafficking” because, as it became obvious after many years, the creation and proliferation of the new terminology was a deliberate rhetorical shift on the part of the U.S. government and its capitalist and imperialist interest to redefine forced migration and labor (sexual or otherwise) from a social and economic issue arising from poverty, economic disparities, globalism, and unreasonable restrictions on migration to an international criminal enterprise comparable to smuggling of drugs and weapons.

And as the U.S. fell deeper into the nightmarish “War on Terror” in the aftermath of 9/11, along with its continued failure in “War on Drugs,” the new “War on Trafficking” gained intensity while copying the simplistic “just say no” attitude of the War on Drugs and “either you are with us, or with the terrorist” mentality of the War on Terror. The anti-trafficking movement today does not resemble what I had supported in the early 2000s anymore.

The battle we as sex workers, feminists and human rights activists are facing is not a simple rehash of the “feminist sex wars” of the 1980s between radical feminists and sex radicals. With its increasingly sensationalistic focus on domestic minor sex trafficking, the anti-trafficking movement we see today in the U.S. is primarily a Christian fundamentalist movement with police, prison, immigration enforcement, counter-terrorism, and other “law and order” interests piggybacking on it. Radical feminists, with whom I have many disagreements over such issues as prostitution, transgender issues, and BDSM, are just as frustrated as we are that the current anti-trafficking movement measures the success of its own activities by the number of criminal convictions rather than the long-term health and well-being of women and children.

But many people do not realize this, either because they do not know enough about the forces behind the anti-trafficking movement or the dubious nature of many of its basic claims–which distorts our conversations about this important topic and misleads public policy. Others may not agree with everything that is happening in the name of ending human trafficking, but do not see any alternatives.

This booklet is a product of two years of research into the state of the anti-trafficking movement in the United States. I went to dozens of events, lectures, and conferences, and spoke with many wonderful but misguided people who take part in this movement. I have also had opportunities to hear many stories of surviving forced labor and prostitution, some of which were not so dissimilar to my own experiences in the sex trade in one point or another. I do not wish to negate their authority to speak about their own experiences and how they wished things were different, but I am deeply troubled by the cherry-picking of survivor stories and experiences that support the anti-trafficking trope equating all prostitution with trafficking and all trafficking with slavery, while all other voices are dismissed as “exceptions” (or “the top 2% elite,” as one anti-prostitution researcher said).

What I aim for in this booklet is to examine various questionable “facts” presented by the anti-trafficking movement, and address ways in which they distort our perceptions of sex trafficking and prostitution and mislead the public to support policies that are ineffectual or counter-productive. I will also show links between the War on Trafficking and the War on Terror, and how problematic aspects of the War on Terror permeates the War on Trafficking as well.

Chapter 1 of this booklet exposes the big three “factoids” that anti-prostitution groups use in order to influence people emotionally and to get their way with media, corporations, and the government, but are false. Chapter 2 continues on this direction, but focusing on other misinformation that influence public opinions. Chapter 3 scrutinizes “economic” arguments, including the “end demand” approach to end sex trafficking and the theory of “economic coercion.” In Chapter 4, I will use the movie Taken as a starting point to talk about the links between the War on Terror and the War on Trafficking. And finally in the conclusions, I will contrast anti-trafficking versus social and economic justice approaches, demonstrating how anti-trafficking movement is harming women and other vulnerable people.

I hope that this booklet contributes to building a more comprehensive and reality-based movement that challenges many facets of social and economic injustices. I hope that readers find the booklet informative, challenging, or affirming of their deep suspicion they have about the anti-trafficking movement. Thanks for reading, and I welcome reader feedbacks at emi@eminism.org.

War on Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement is available for preview as a PDF file and for purchase at my zine store.

11 Comments »

  1. [...] Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement, a powerful new zine that examines and challenges the current US domestic anti-trafficking movement.  Here’s an [...]

    Pingback by War on Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking Movement « INCITE! Blog — June 1, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

  2. [...] and I think more thorough, examination of the same issue I would HIGHLY recommend checking out Emi Koyama’s zine : War on Terror and War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activists Confronts the…. You can read it online, but please support this amazing work and buy a copy [...]

    Pingback by Village Voice vs. Ashton Kutcher « Dedicated to ending violence & stigma against sex workers — July 1, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  3. [...] have “never been contested,” they’ve been decried and disproved by many sex workers, advocates, allies, and even the occasional mainstream journalist for years. (In England, too. And [...]

    Pingback by If You Can’t Accept Facts, You Can’t Be An Ally | Tits and Sass — July 5, 2011 @ 7:01 am

  4. [...] quoted statistics have “never been contested,” they’ve been decried and disproved by many sex workers, advocates, allies, and even the occasional mainstream journalist for years. (In England, too. And [...]

    Pingback by If You Can’t Accept Facts, You Can’t Be An Ally — July 7, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  5. [...] Ok, you might say, so they’re using a false statistic. So what? Isn’t sex trafficking still an issue? I don’t think anyone can debate that the trafficking of youth into the sex industry is a very worthy cause. Yet it can be very difficult to combat a problem as complex as trafficking if you do not understand how it functions. Emi Koyama of Eminism.org explains how the specifics matter in combating trafficking in the commentary of her zine “War on Terror & War on Trafficking: A Sex Worker Activist Confronts the Anti-Trafficking …: [...]

    Pingback by The Fight Between the Village Voice, Ashton Kutcher and Some Faulty Stats: What Really Matters Here | My Sex Professor: Sexuality Education — July 7, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

  6. [...] page 33 of my zine, “War on Terror & War on Trafficking, I made a pretty bad typo. Under “Social and Economic Justice Model” on that page, I [...]

    Pingback by Eminism.org » Oops. Serious typo in “War on Terror & War on Trafficking” zine — July 12, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

  7. [...] Last night I went to a Portland screening of the feature-length documentary, “Sex+Moey: A National Search for Human Worth.” It was a brilliantly produced and well-structured film, but unfortunately it did not go beyond what I had expected from seeing the trailer which repeated the myth of extremely low the “Average Age of Entry” into prostitution. It also quoted people claiming that there are 100,000 to 300,000 trafficked children in the U.S., which is demonstrably false. [...]

    Pingback by Eminism.org » Film “Sex+Money”: Evidence #7290 that the Mainstream Anti-Trafficking Movement is a Conservative Christian Movement — October 8, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  8. [...] most notably in Village Voice (06/29/2011). I have also analyzed this claim in my zine, “War on Terror & War on Trafficking,” criticizing the methodological problems in the original study, as well as misinterpretation [...]

    Pingback by Eminism.org » Youth in the sex industry: how recognizing “push” and “pull” factors can better inform public policy — October 19, 2011 @ 12:32 am

  9. [...] my zine, “War on Terror & War on Trafficking,” I pointed out that the term “human trafficking” came into popular usage since [...]

    Pingback by Eminism.org » I Heart Google Ngram Viewer. — December 14, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

  10. […] to sex trade activist and opponent of Bill C-36 Emi Koyama, in War on Terror & War on […]

    Pingback by The world’s oldest “profession”? | vote4vision — August 15, 2014 @ 9:20 am

  11. […] to sex trade activist and opponent of Bill C-36 Emi Koyama, in War on Terror & War on […]

    Pingback by The world’s oldest “profession”? | Your social constructs are showing — August 19, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

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