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Will the Real Sex Slave Please Stand up? Author(s): Julia O'Connell Davidson Reviewed work(s) :

Will the Real Sex Slave Please Stand up? Author(s): Julia O'Connell Davidson Reviewed work(s):

Source: Feminist Review, No. 83, Sexual Moralities (2006), pp. 4-22 Published by: Palgrave Macmillan Journals

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Julia O'ConnellDavidson


This paper critically explores the way in which 'trafficking' has been framed as a

problem involving organized criminals and 'sex slaves', noting that this approach obscures both the relationship between migration policy and 'trafficking', and that between prostitution policy and forced labour in the sex sector. Focusing on the UK,it

argues that far from representing a step forward in terms of securing rights and protections for those who are subject to exploitative employment relations and poor working conditions in the sex trade, the current policy emphasis on sex slaves and

'victims of trafficking' limits the state's obligations towards them.




sexual slavery; sex work; forced labour; irregular migration


(4-22) 0





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will the







Overthe past decade, a range of governmental and non-governmental actors have displayedgrowing awareness of, and concern about, the fact that the sex industry can be a site of various (and sometimes extreme) formsof exploitation and abuse. Within this, particular concernhas been focused upon phenomena

describedas 'sexual slavery' and as 'trafficking for sexual exploitation', and in dominant anti-trafficking discourse, two assertions have been so repeatedly made that they have acquired an almost mantra-likequality. Thefirst is that human trafficking is taking place on a massive scale everywhere.Trafficking is describedas 'a $7 billiona year business' involving tens of thousandsof women and children annually: 'No one now disputes that traffickingtoday has reached

alarming proportions, the

countriesof origin, transit and destination points' (Javate de Dios, 2002: 1). The

second is that trafficked persons are victims of modern slavery and should be treated as such, a statement that is now as likely to be made by government ministersas it is by spokespeople for Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs) that lobby on the issue.

magnitude of

which affects

many countries as

Giventhe undisputed and alarmingmagnitude of the phenomenon, and the fact that for at least the past five years, many international agencies and governments have given high priority and devoted extensive resources to combating the problem, it is puzzling to find that the numberof people whohave

been identified as 'victims

small. TheUKis a case in point. In 2000, a HomeOffice report estimated that every year, anywhere between 140 and 1400 women and girls were being trafficked into prostitution in Britain, and recommendedthat the police should pay particular attention to off-street prostitution wheretraffickedwomenand

girls were especiallylikely to be held (Kelly and Regan,2000). New legislation has subsequently been introducedto tackle this supposedlygrowingphenomenon, a special Home Office funded project (the PoppyProject) has been set up to supportVoTs, and various police forces haveworked closely withthe immigration

authorities to

However, if those involvedin designing and implementing these measureswere sincerein theirbelief that hundredsof womenwere annuallybeing traffickedinto Britainfor purposes of sexual exploitation and in theirdesireto assist them, they

must surely be disappointedby the results.

of trafficking'(VoTs) and assisted as such is


identify and rescue women trafficked into the sex industry.

In 2003, the London Metropolitan Police Clubsand Vice Unit and immigration serviceofficersfound 295 immigration offendersin the courseof regular routine visits to massage parlours and saunas in London, of whom only fouror five were

identifiedas VoTs and referredto the Poppyproject. Therest were deported(or 'administrativelyremoved',in UK immigrationservice-speak). Inthe same year, the Poppy project also received the grand total of 15 referralsfrom other

JuliaO'ConnellDavidson feminist





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agencies, and had in all 24 womenin theirfacilities. Raids on indoor prostitution establishmentsin other areas have yielded similarly low numbersof VoTs.Upon contact withthe authorities, the huge and growing numbersof trafficking victims

in need of

who must

sector, being identified as potentially vulnerableto abuse and exploitation

often appears to mean exposure to additional risksratherthan an to access rights and protections. Andmore generally it seems that

extensive attention

new international protocols and declarations, national laws, and

initiatives designed to combat such abuses, very little progress has been made

in terms of promoting or protecting the humanor labour rights of those who


This paperexplores the relationship betweenthis lack of progress and the current policyemphasis on sex slaves and trafficking victims. It drawson on-going ESRC- funded research' and focuses primarily on the UK,though the same basic

argument could be made in relation to policy and practice in countries.

protection have a habit of transmogrifying into 'illegal immigrants' be summarilydeported. For undocumented migrants in the sex


despite the

paid to rights violations in the sex industry and a raft of


many other






Todescribehuman trafficking as 'nothing less than modern day slavery', as UK SolicitorGeneralHarrietHarman recently did (AntiSlaveryInternational,2005), is

a powerfulpiece of rhetoric.Taken literally,however, it brings us onto difficult philosophical and politicalterrain, for scholarshave alwaysstruggled to cleanly demarcate autonomy and slavery, and free and unfree labour, as oppositional categories (Brace,2004). The problem is that evenwhenunderstoodas definedin the Slavery Conventionof the League of Nations (1926), whichstates that slavery is 'the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised',slaveryimplies a package of unfreedoms, not all of whichare unique to slavery. Someof the powersattaching to the right of ownership can be and often are also exercisedover groups that are not socially imagined as 'slaves', such as wives, children, employees, and professional athletes (Patterson, 1982; Brace,2004; O'Connell Davidson,2005). Certainly, if we are concernedwith slavery as a formof labour exploitation, there is no clear line between it and 'free' wage labour.Slavery has always stood at one pole of a continuumof exploitation, shading off into servitudeand other forms of exploitation, rather than existing as a wholly separate, isolated phenomenon(Lott, 1998).

The quest for a sharpline betweenslaveryand freedompersists in contemporary accounts of 'modernslavery',however.So, for example, in his bookDisposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, KevinBales begins by noting that

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1 The study focuses on the markets for migrant domestic and sex workers in the UK and Spain, and includes interview research

with those who or manage sector establish-

ments and indirectly













buy sex.

'New Slavery' is a phenomenonquite separate fromotherformsof oppression and labour exploitation:

Havingjust enoughmoney to get by,receivingwages that barelykeepyoualive, may be called wageslavery, butit is not slavery.Sharecroppershave a hard life, but they are notslaves.Childlabouris terrible, butit is not necessarilyslavery.

(Bales, 2000: 5)

New Slavery,according to Bales, also differs understood as slavery in a numberof senses. It

from what has traditionally been is not a conditionthat is linkedto

an excluded legal or political status, it does not necessarily entail natal alienation, it is not a permanentcondition, ethnicdifferencesare not relevantto

New Slavery is not a feature of a differentor separate surplus is extracted from the New Slave's labour in

'mode of production' -

the New Slavery, and


essentially the same way that it is extractedfromnon-Slaves.For Bales, the New

Slavery is part of a shadowy,unregulated economicrealmin which people can be

treated as 'completelydisposable tools for makingmoney'(2000: 4). It is the dark and lawless undersideof globalization. And because it is impossible to

distinguish NewSlavesfrom wage slaves either through referenceto their legal or social status, orto the way in which surplus is appropriatedbya dominant class,

Bales is left insisting that New Slavery differs from wage

about 'the total controlof one personby anotherfor the purpose of economic exploitation'(2000: 6, emphasisadded). No matter how hardthe life of wage slaves, they are not completely controlled by another person. The wage slave can, by implication, make choices.

Thisnotion of 'total control'is a fragile hook on whichto hang the concept of

slavery. In fact, using this definition,many 'OldSlaves'wouldnot count as 'New

Slaves' -not

instance, were completely controlled by their legal owners -

position to engage in a autonomous trading (including the trade of sexual services), and/or to engage in a range of different types of resistance (Beckles,

1989; Lott, 1998; Geary,2004). And setting up an opposition between 'total control'and 'choice' begs the question of howmuch choice, and choices between

what?Ifdebt- eitherrealorfictional- is used as the meansto controla worker,

is this complete controlordoes the debtorhave a choice aboutwhetheror not to

comply withthe demandsof the person s/he is indebtedto? Doesan opportunity to quit represent a 'choice'evenwhenit carrieswithit a riskof beingreported to

the immigration authoritiesand deported?

slavery because it is

all slaves in slave societies of the Caribbeanand America, for

some were in a

A similarset of philosophical and definitional problems surroundthe concept of

'trafficking', and boundarydisputes are all the more heated because different

agenciesand groupsidentifytraffickingas a problem for very differentreasonsand have verydifferent politicalagendas withregard to the issue. While governments' interestin trafficking is primarilygrounded in concernsabout irregularimmigration







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and transnational organizedcrime, human rightsNGOs' interestin the phenomenon is often based in broaderconcernsabout 'modern slavery' as defined above.

Meanwhile, feminist abolitionist groups such

Women (CATW) view trafficking as central to,

globalization of female sexual exploitation(Raymond,2001). Feministabolitionists hold that it is impossible for womento consent to prostitute, since prostitution dehumanizes and objectifies women.Prostitutionis therefore a formof slavery, and since nobody can elect to be a slave, all prostitutes have beentraffickedinto

their condition (Barry,1995;Jeffreys,1997).

Until recently, there was no international agreement as to the properlegal definitionof trafficking.Following muchdebate betweenthose with a political stake in the issue, in November 2000, the UNConvention AgainstTransnational Organized Crimewas adopted by the UNGeneral Assembly, and with it two new

protocols, one on smuggling of migrants and one on trafficking in persons - the Protocolto Prevent,Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,EspeciallyWomen and Children.Inthe latter, trafficking is defined as:

as Coalition AgainstTrafficking in and emblematic of, the increasing

The recruitment,transportation,transfer,harbouring or receipt of persons,by meansof the threatoruse of forceorotherformsof coercion, of abduction, of

fraud, of deception, of the abuseof power orof a position of vulnerability orof

the giving or receiving of payments orbenefitsto

having controloveranother person, forthe purpose of exploitation.Exploitation

shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of othersorother

achievethe consentof a person

formsof sexual exploitation, forcedlabouror services,slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitudeorthe removalof organs.

TheProtocolis heldto have redefinedthe internationalstandardof trafficking in the sense that it allows for the possibility that people may be trafficked for purposes other than exploitation in prostitution, and it is further said to

'establish new standards with respect to protecting the rights of trafficked persons' (Pearson, 2002: 16). The Trafficking Protocol entered into force in December2003. By2004, it had been signedby 117 countries,many countrieshad made efforts to bring their nationallaws in line with it, and all governments are being urged to do so not only by supranationalpolitical bodies such as the Councilof Europe, but also by both feministabolitionistand human rightsNGOs involvedin anti-traffickingcampaigns.

Atthe same time, however, the Trafficking Protocolhas been subject to extensive critique. The Protocoldefinition of the term 'trafficking' does not describe a single, unitary act leading to one specific outcome, but ratherrefersto a process (recruitment,transportationand control) that can be organizedin a varietyof ways and involvea range of different actions and outcomes. Trafficking,like traditional understandingsof slavery,comes as a package,and there is roomfor dispute as to which particularactions and outcomes, and in what particular

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combination, shouldbe includedunderits umbrella.This problem is

by the fact that many of the constituent elements identified in the Protocol

definition of trafficking themselves present definitional problems(there is, for


example, no

exploitation', or indeed of 'exploitation'), and by the fact that the abuses

that come underthe umbrellaof 'trafficking' can vary in severity,generating a continuumof experience ratherthan a simple either/or dichotomy(Anderson and



international consensus regarding the

definition of

Of particular relevancefor this paper, the fact that the Protocolis framedwithin

the Conventionon Transnational OrganizedCrime, and packaged with a Protocol

on smuggling, reflects a preoccupation with 'illegal immigration' as part and

parcel of a opposed to

2000; Andersonand O'Connell Davidson,2002; Kapur,2005). Taken together, the

trafficking and smugglingprotocols assume a neat line of demarcationbetween

oppositional categories of

involuntary and non-consensual migration - an assumption that researchshows

to vastly oversimplify the systems and processes that facilitate irregular

migration in the real world, and fails to recognize the

social relations between irregularmigrants and those who benefit directly or indirectly from their exploitation (see, for instance, Parrenas,2001; Agustin, 2002; King,2002; Andrijasevic,2003; Lutz,2004). And crucially, the Trafficking Protocolis problematic froma humanand migrants'rightsperspective because it attaches special significance to situations in which abuses at the point of destination are linked to the use of force or deception within the migration process. State Partiesare not being required to meet newand higher standards with respect to protecting the rights of any migrantperson who is subject to deception, force and exploitation withintheir borders, but only with respect to those who have also been cheated and exploited withinthe migratoryprocess.

supposedsecurity threat posed by transnational organized crimeas a concernwiththe human rights of migrants(see Beare, 1999;AMC,

migration -

voluntary and consensual versus

complexity and variety of


Trafficking in Human Beings convened by the European Unionin 2003, which actually notes that forced labour is the crucial element of the Protocol, and states that 'policy interventionsshouldfocus on the forced labour and services, including forced sexual services, slavery and slavery-like outcomesof trafficking - no matter how people arrivein these conditions - ratherthan (or in addition

to) the mechanismsof trafficking itself' (EuropeanCommission, 2004: 53).

Welcome as this statement is,


mentioned above. The concept of 'forced labour' itself presents definitional

problems(see Andersonand Rogaly,2005).

Office (2005: 8) recent report on forced labour in the global economy acknowledges,'the line dividing forcedlabourinthe strict legal sense of the term

from extremely poor working conditions can at times be very difficult to

problem was implicitlyrecognized in the report of an ExpertsGroup on

it does not entirely resolve the

Indeed, as the InternationalLabour

Julia O'Connell Davidson






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distinguish'. And even if such definitional problems could be resolved, the Trafficking Protocolwould remaina highly selective instrumentwith whichto address the general problem of forced labour because, framedas it is within a Conventionon transnationalorganizedcrime, the interventionsthat flowfromthe Protocolare necessarilyonlytriggeredby immigration offences and/or organized

criminal activity. As argued below, extremely limitedand narrow part of

this means they inevitably focus on an the problem.



a victim?

I was recently asked to speak at a conferenceon trafficking. Inthe e-mail

invitation, the ConferenceProducertold me that he was 'very keen to have


once they have been caught by the authorities'. Doubtlessthe wordswere not

intentionallychosen, but nevertheless, Ifelt this mixtureof language, the idea of

catching victims, spoke volumes about the

trafficking discoursefroma human rightsperspective. Framedas a crimecontrol

and prevention issue,

orchestrated by ruthless,transnationalorganized criminalnetworks.Thisnot only makesit possible for governments to present measuresto preventirregular forms

of migration as thoughthey were simultaneouslyanti-traffickingmeasures, but also means that the authorities charged with a responsibility to contain illegal

migration and combat organized crimeare simultaneously deemedto be

actors as regardsrescuing VoTs. It is implicitly, sometimes explicitly, assumed that bycasting a net to catch immigration offendersand individualsinvolvedin a specific set of criminalactivities suchas those associated with prostitution,drug

running, and peoplesmuggling/trafficking, the authoritieswillalso catch victims.

Leavingaside, for the moment, the problems and conflictsof intereststhat may arise when police and immigration officials are expected to catch offendersand victims, it is important to notethat the watersfished by these actorsare extremely limited. The package of violations covered by the UN Protocol definition of 'trafficking'(violence,confinement,coercion,deception and exploitation) can and do occur within legally regulated as well as irregularsystems of migration and employment, and within legal as well as illegal systems of migration into private households. (For some extremelydisturbingexamples of forced labourinvolving migrant workerswho entered the UK throughperfectlylegal channelsand were legally employed in the formal economy, including in the public sector, see Andersonand Rogaly,2005). And yet migrants whohavebeen subject to abuseand exploitation within legal systems of migration are not likely to be caughtby police or immigration officials. Indeed, for migrant workersin most sectors in the UK, there is no authorityvested withthe duty and power to checkthat they are not beingexploited, and if they are, to discoverwhethertheirexploitation is linkedto the use of force, debt or deception withinthe migrationprocess.



one presentation on the issue of what happens to the victimsof trafficking

limitations of dominant anti-

'trafficking' has been presented as




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Although the UNProtocol is often praised for having broadened the international definition of trafficking such that people moved for purposes other than

the sex

sector still remains the primary focus of most countries' 'anti-trafficking' efforts. However, identifying VoTs in the sex sector requires the authorities to distinguish

between forced labour and extremely poor workingconditions, and this is no easy


this distinction, I will briefly illustrate the extent of the problem with examples employment relations and working conditions in just one form of prostitution one city, London.



in the UK imagine

exploitation in prostitution can now be recognized as VoTs, in practice,

Before looking at how police and immigration officials




In November 2005, Gavril Dulghieru, a Moldovan living in London, was convicted

for conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration, misuse of stolen credit cards, forgery, money laundering and conspiracy to traffic for prostitution and sexual exploitation. The women he trafficked worked 20-hour shifts in brothels in Park Lane, Mayfair and Soho, were fed only one meal a day, and charged for the use of



of working




in 'working



They wereforcedto havesex with up to

pay off ?20,000 debts each - the price for which they were 'bought'.They were

chargedrent, and subjected to fines if they refused anal or unprotected sex or a

client was not attracted to them

to live locked in a sharedbasementand her captors threatened

pay ?300 perday


to Britain by promises of a respectable,well-paidjob in a hotel or restaurantbut ended up in a brothel:'I believed they would kill my family,' she told the court.

'I thought I hadn'ta way out of this situation. I didn'tthinkI had a life

me. Iwantedto escape

I was told I need to go with clients and I needed to do sex with them. I felt very bad. Thefirst time I wasn't able to talk afterwards'.

40 mena day for as little as ?10 a time to

One 23-year-old described how she had to

kill her family.

Like manytraffickingvictims, the computergraduate was lured

infront of

but everything was locked.Wewerelocked up all the time.


The 23-year-old

images of a VoT.She was tricked into travelling to the UKwith the promise of 'respectable' work, she was locked into a building and forced (both through the

quoted above conforms closely to popular understandings and

use of death threats against her family and through demands to repay a debt) to provide sexual services, and she was psychologically devastated by the experience.

JuliaO'Connell Davidson






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Asecond example of working conditionsand employment relationscomesfroman interviewwith a woman, 'Pat', a formersex workerwho runsthree 'walk up'

brothelsorflats in Soho, indirectlyemploying ninesex workers,only one of whom is a Britishnational. Pat does not actively recruitworkerseither in the UKor

abroad, and so has no involvementin facilitating or arranging the

the sex workersshe

not be acting under duress from third parties who arranged their migration) telephone or knockon the doorand ask to be taken onto herbooks.Theflats are open for business24 hours per day, everyday of the year except Christmas Day

and New year's Day, and the sex workerswork12-hourshifts on a roster system.

Only one womanat a time

average, every workeron Pat's books takes

week, and so worksfor somewherebetween 48 and 60 hours per week. As it is

illegal to directlyemploya sex worker, Pat's workersdo not receive a set wage

per shift.

sumwhichin theorypays for the rentalof workspaceplus otherservices supplied

by Pat (advertising the brothel,employing a maidto take phone calls and clean the flat, provision of food, tea and coffee, also items necessary to theirworksuch as tissues, clean sheets, uniforms, and finallysafety precautions such as CCTV).

However, whilethe relationship betweenPat and the sex worker is, in this sense, constructedas a contractbetweentwo independententrepreneurs ratherthan an employmentrelation, it is Pat whosets the rates for servicesand lays downrules concerningworkingpractices, and so, in effect, exerts close control over their workrate. Walk up brothels in Soho cater primarily to the demandfor cheap, quick sexual services. Pat's pricingsystem, which is based on extremely short time units, reflects this. The cheapest service available at ?20 is either penetrative sex in the missionaryposition or oral sex for 10 minutes.Ifthe client

wants both penetrative and oralsex in his 10-minute slot, it willcost him ?25; if he wants oral sex plus penetrative sex in a position otherthan missionary, it will

cost him?30. Thenexttime unit is

20 minutes, then 30 minutes,

and then to the highest possible unit, 1 hour, whichcosts ?120 for oral and penetrative sex. Analsex costs an additional ?100, and the prices for oral sex without a condom, and for ejaculating overthe worker'sbreastsor body are also

much higher(?140) regardless of the unit of time.

If all the clients that arrived duringa shift wereto ask for the cheapest service, then in orderto pay Pat the shift fee of ?350, a workerwouldneed to service 18 clients before even beginning to earn for herself. And if she continued on to servicea further17 clients, she would - like Gavril Dulghieru's forced prostitutes - in effect be havingsex witha largenumberof menfor as little as ?10 a time. In practice, many clients do ask for more expensive services, and/or can be persuadedto spend more on extras, and sex workers rely in particularupon regular customers who tend to spend longer with them and request more

migration of

employs.Instead, women looking for work (whomay or may

worksin each

of the flats, which means that on on betweenfour and five shifts per

Instead,they are required to pay Pat ?350 for every shift they work- a

15 minutes, then





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stand up?

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expensive services. Indeed, regularlygross ?700, so that

clearly the case that her workers could, on bad days, experience a strong

financial pressure to engage in acts that they might otherwise refuse, and that

potentially carry serious health risks, such as anal sex, or condom.

As we only interviewed Pat, and not any of her workers, it is

whether any of the incurred during the

working in the sex industry suggests that it is likely that some are (see Andrijasevic,2003; Agustin,2005, for example). The need to repay such debt, especially if combinedwith the pressure to pay for accommodationin London, and to supportdependants back home, couldthus operate as strongpressure to continue to workfor Pat, also to accept a volume of clients and to provide servicesthat the workerwouldnot otherwise agree to.

'Ava', anotherformersex worker of London, and offers indirect

A third example comes from an interviewwith

who runs a 'working flat' in the East End

employment to 11 sex workers, six of whomare Britishnationals.Theflat is open

between11 am and 10 pm, and each day, two sex workersworkthe 11-hourshift together. Avadoes not, therefore, offer full time employment to the womenwho workfor her (thoughthey may end up working as many hours per week as Pat's

workers, since some of them are also indirectlyemployed in other working flats or

massage parlours). Like Pat, Ava does not actively recruitworkers-

approach her for work - but as noted in relationto Pat,

non-Britishnationals she employs are working to pay off debts to third parties who arranged their migration. However, if this were the case, the women concernedwouldnot be exposed to the same degree of exploitation as those who workfor Pat. Ava provides all the servicesthat Pat provides her workers, but does not charge them a session fee for so doing. Instead, each worker's takings are split equally between Ava and the worker.This means that the workeris not forcedto shoulderthe cost whentrade is slow, and it is not possible for a worker

to end up owing money to the house at the end of a session, as it is in establishmentsthat operate the session fee system. Ava sets the prices for

services, and they are set at a similar level to those in Pat's Soho walk up.

However, unlikeat Pat's, there is no 10-minutefee

employment relationis not designed to encourage a highthroughput of low price trade.

Ava's 'house rules' are also distinctive, leading to different workingpractices. Ava does not permit her workersto provide any services without condoms, indeed, this rule is important to the way in whichshe marketsher flat in her internetadvertising as a clean, safe place to buy sexual services. Furthermore, she activelyencourages those whoworkfor herto refuseto provide servicesthat

Pat claims that during a 12-hour shift, workers they usually take home?350 perday. And yet it is

oral sex without a

not possible to say

migrants she indirectlyemploys are working to pay off debts process of migration, but other researchwith migrant women


it is possible that the

and the price structureand







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workers that

agree to anything and everything clients request, saying:


not feel



providing. She explained that



it is wrong to assume that they will lose business if they do not

can be.

There'sthe safety aspect of it, and also the fact that then the guys can look at

you and think, 'Well, what she does offer, she must like, because she feels free not to offer what she doesn't like'.

If anything, it's the other way around, the less you offer, the busier you


Avadoes not have a high turnoverof staff. In fact, several of the womenwho workfor herhave been withherfor a numberof years, something that doubtless

testifies to the fact that the working conditionsand earningsopportunities she

provides are good relativeto

other similarestablishments.









Feministabolitionist groups like CATWhave lobbied very effectively in and international policy-making circlesto get 'sex trafficking' onto the

agenda as a huge and growingproblem, and one that involvesthe enslavement

and torture of 'prostituted' womenand girls. The campaigning materials they produce reflect their vision of 'the prostitute' as object, victim and slave. They


like sex

who have been violently beaten and rapedby

clients, lists of physical illnessesand psychological conditionssuffered by women

in prostitution,images of trafficked womenas puppet-likeobjects or slabs of meat, or even as decapitated heads packaged as sex toys. These images of 'bodies in pain:pierced,bleeding and defenceless' have been reproduced in anti- trafficking materials created by more mainstream organizations, such as the International Organization for Migration and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and in government informationand awareness campaigns on trafficking(Aradau, 2004: 264).

However, wheremembersof CATWand otherfeministabolitionistsconsiderthat it

is impossible for a womanto consentto sell sexual services, and that all migrant

womenin prostitution(indeed, all female prostitutes, whether migrant or not)

are thereforeVoTs deserving of protection and assistance, politicians and policy- makerstend to be rathermoreselective in their view of who is and is not a sex slave. Inmost countries, to stand any chance of being identifiedand assisted as

a VoT by the authorities, a migrant womanor girlworking in the sex trade needs to demonstratefirst that she did not choose or consent to workin prostitution,

and second that she has undergonegreat physical suffering. In the US, for example, the Trafficking VictimsProtectionAct of 2000 makes variousformsof protection available to victims of 'severe forms of trafficking', but access to



graphicdepictions of the violence and harmassociated with 'the rape- acts of prostitution'(Hughes 2000: 3) - testimony fromwomenand girls

pimps, and/or tortured by sadistic





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real sex slave please stand up?

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these protections is restricted, and 'relies heavily on the distinction between 'innocent victims' of forced prostitution and 'guilty sex workers'who had

foreknowledge of the fact they wouldbe performing sexuallabor' (Pearson,2002; see also Chapkis, 2005: 57-58).

This distinction has much wider currency(Doezema, 1999, 2002; Harrington,

2005). Andeven wherethe law does could have agreed to migrate into

exploited and unableto escape her situation, the status of VoTis by no means automaticallygiven to those who have been subject to the abuses listed as constitutive of 'trafficking' in the UNProtocol. Instead, to be recognized as a

VoT,they will need to demonstratethat they have been subject to veryspecific types of abuse, in particular to rape and/or other forms of extreme physical force. TheUKis a case in point. The Asylum and Immigration Bill2004states that

a person whofacilitates travelto orwithinthe UKis guilty of the criminaloffence of trafficking if an individualso facilitated: 'is the victim of behaviourthat contravenes Article 4 of the Human Rights Convention (slavery and forced

labour)', or 'is subjected to force, threats or deceptiondesigned to inducehim-

(i) to provide servicesof any kind;(ii) to provide another person withbenefits of

any kind, or; (iii) to enable another person to acquire benefits of any kind'.

However, since the legislation, like the UN TraffickingProtocol, fails to provide clear guidelines on the degree of deceit, the type and degree of force, orthe type of threats that must be present in orderfor a person to qualify as a VoT,police and immigration officersmustuse their judgement to decide whetherwomenand girls pickedup during routinevisits and raids are or are not VoTs.


rule out the possibility that a woman


work but subsequently found herself

Our preliminary interviewswith police and immigration officers in the UK suggest that upon contact withthe authorities, womenneed to immediatelyreport a very particular set of experiences to qualify as a VoT.For instance, asked how she could tell if someone pickedup during a raid on a massage parlour was or was


not a VoT, an immigration officer answeredthat during their initial (which is usuallyvery brief and held in an interviewroom in a police

womenare questioned about their routing on the way to the UK, whether they knewwhat kindof work they wouldbe undertaking, whether they had workedin the sex trade back home, and whetheran agent was involvedin their migration into sex workin UK.And:


If theysay that they were brought here against their will, or they weresoldfrom prostitution in one country on to prostitution in another, or that they're not allowed to leavethe building orthat they aren't givenfood, that would obviously tell yo<