Sex work vs migrating to work in the sex industry under whatever conditions possible vs coercion/ rape
I see a lot of people say this and I’ve been guilty of it too: that sex trafficking is not sex work, it is rape. In the current legal climate, and more importantly, in the current global conversation about sex trafficking, where definitions of “trafficked” have changed from “illegally move across borders” to “anyone who sells sex” it’s hard to talk about this stuff accurately, even harder when there’re groups of people waiting to use anything negative you say against you in their endless and endlessly tedious quest to put you out of existence, BUT! let’s try.
A lot of sex workers who are described as “sex trafficked” are still actually sex workers. They were sex workers prior to migration, they were aware that they would be doing sex work after migration, and they agreed to do sex work after migration. Coercion may or may not be an element here: some people engaged in moving laborers across borders do use coercion at the destination and some don’t. This gets even more confusing when you remember that a woman was arrested for “trafficking” herself when she exchanged sex for a tattoo This case is an example: http://zeenews.india.com/news/north-east/thai-woman-among-eight-held-in-siliguri-sex-racket_1499750.html
They’re using the language of trafficking here, but it must be the old definition, as the women obviously have freedom of movement.
On the other hand, the man who kidnapped 12 women and kept them locked in his house and raped and abused them? That’s definitely rape. If he was transporting them all to hotels and accepting money in exchange for sex with them, that fits all definitions of trafficking and is rape. Are they sex workers? Was Jaycee Dugard a sex worker? We didn’t use this language as much when she was found, and I doubt it would have been used: too stigmatising of the already traumatised pretty white girl. Was Elizabeth Smart sex trafficked, or raped and abused?
Many people who are trafficked for nonsexual labour (domestic or agricultural) are kept imprisoned and unarguably coerced and abused, but there’s no salaciousness to that narrative, nothing titillating. I mean they’re poor and brown, right? who cares.