(Un)popular strangers and crises (un)bounded: Discourses of sex-trafficking, the European political community and the panicked state of the modern state

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Series Details Volume 9, Number 1, Pages 37-86
Publication Date March 2003
ISSN 1354-0661
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While the 'trafficking in persons' is a problem that has long plagued the international community, sensationalized media coverage and governmental anti-organized crime initiatives have produced a new set of discursive practices that conflate violent crime against women with complex forms of post-communist gendered migration. These discourses refer to many different forms of exploitation and migration as 'trafficking in women for purposes of sexual exploitation'. In other words, they portray all international, often illegal, migration and labour as acts of violated gender and raced innocence and of international organized crime.

In this frame, criminalization of all activities related to trafficking appears to be the most logical and effective means of redressing this problem. It simultaneously, however, subjects all East European migrant sex workers to categorizations that defuse what may function as the challenges presented by their sovereign and symbolic boundary transgressions. A focus on crime and violated borders (rather than on the conditions under which women migrate or are forced to work) extends barriers to migration and renders it more dangerous for women while not necessarily hindering movement or assisting the actual victims. Because it emphasizes the role of state-based institutions in fighting international organized crime, criminalization also serves as a means through which practices of `statecraft' work to reiterate the privileged place of the state in IR. As such, discourses of sex-trafficking provide a particularly incisive site at which to examine European integration, immigration, 'globalization' and their effects on IR in a gendered and race-cognizant frame.

Source Link https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066103009001157
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