Roadblocks to counter-trafficking: A comparative analysis of Vietnam, Ghana and Ukraine

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Publication Type:
Women Past and Present: Biographic and Interdisciplinary Studies, 2014, pp. 266 - 282
Issue Date:
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The exploitation of migrant women abroad through trafficking and trafficking-like conditions is a global phenomenon. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight similarities and differences in the main barriers that exist to counter the traffic of women through a comparative study of Vietnam, Ghana and Ukraine. This chapter is based on fieldwork carried out in the three countries from July 2009 to November 2010, including 52 interviews with key informants and first-hand data collected from 109 returned victims of trafficking. This research identifies the political, legal, socio-cultural and economic road-blocks that continue to hinder efforts to counter trafficking using a human rights and migration-centred framework in all three research countries. Governments, NGOs and other stakeholders have been engaging in counter-trafficking activities for years, particularly since the enactment in 2000 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol). The Protocol specifically calls for a “comprehensive international approach” to “prevent and combat trafficking in persons” (Preamble). Nonetheless, an array of barriers to combating trafficking exists, ranging from shortcomings with national trafficking laws and access to justice for victims, to the reality that some governments fail to play an active and positive role in the countering of trafficking. In other instances, negative perceptions held about individual victims or their own unwillingness to self-identify as a trafficked person, present obstacles. An on-going emphasis on a criminal justice rather than human-rights centred approach is an overarching challenge. In this chapter, I focus on three key issues: (a) The impact of criminalisation of sex work and stigma associated with both sex work and trafficking; (b) Stereotypes concerning who constitutes a victim of trafficking; and (c) The role of cultural attitudes and myths concerning the “successful migrant” abroad. Overall, the findings of my fieldwork provide the basis for recommendations for political reform, legal amendments and socio-cultural change in order to ensure more effective counter-trafficking efforts.
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