Stigma, stereotypes and Brazilian soap operas: road-blocks to ending human trafficking in Vietnam, Ghana and Ukraine

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Journal Article
Gender, Place and Culture, 2013, 20 (8), pp. 1015 - 1032
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During the last 15 years, we have witnessed a significant and increasing focus on human trafficking in the work and research of international organisations, local and international non-governmental organisations, governments, researchers and academics from a range of disciplines. However, the focus remains on presumed structural causes of trafficking, including assumptions regarding victims' levels of education and sex. Other socio-cultural factors are frequently ignored in trafficking discourse. Based on fieldwork carried out in Vietnam, Ghana and Ukraine from July 2009 to November 2010, including 50 interviews with key informants, this article directs attention to some of these oft-ignored factors that continue to act as a barrier to ending human trafficking. Attention is paid to three socio-cultural factors that act as road-blocks to efforts to counter trafficking in all three countries: first, the stigmatisation of both sex work and trafficking; second, a narrow understanding of who constitutes a victim of trafficking and third, lack of attention by researchers and activists to the role of images of successful migration abroad as an influential pull factor. These research findings indicate the importance of understanding the intersections between race, culture, gender, sexuality and class to relation to women's and men's involvement in unsafe and/or exploitative migration abroad. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
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