Anti-Trafficking

Risks to Community-Based Responses and Anti-Trafficking Work

Anti-trafficking efforts without a common framework of definitions and laws face barriers in effecting any common activities; moreover, analysis by practitioners and academics has noted that anti-trafficking efforts can worsen conditions for victims as well as other migrants. In 2004, Busza, Castle, and Diarra looked at trafficking as a global public health issue as well as a violation of human rights. Due to “illegal or unsafe occupations, including agriculture, construction, domestic labor, and sex work,” trafficking is “associated with health risks such as psychological trauma, injuries from violence, sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, other adverse reproductive health outcomes, and substance misuse.”

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These factors are often exacerbated by lack of access to services in the country of destination and exploitation, a foreign country in which migrants and victims of exploitation both face “language barriers, [social and cultural] isolation, and exploitative working conditions.” Busza, et al., argue that anti-trafficking efforts can worsen the experience, especially for migrants who are not trafficked, as anti-trafficking efforts can leave many migrants further marginalized and therefore vulnerable to exploitation. This can be due to increased scrutiny in accessing services, restrictions on legal and illegal migration or smuggling, and other well-meaning attempts at regulation and control. Another example is criminalization of an activity in which victims are forced to engage, which can increase the negative repercussions for victims if they have to change to more dangerous activities, such as when street begging becomes illegal, or added risks if they continue, including risks of incarceration, fines, and a criminal record.