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Studying the anti-trafficking discourse: Complicating the “problem” of sex work


The objective of this paper is to provide a synthesis and critical evaluation of how the discourse on trafficking is mobilized in feminist debates on prostitution and sex work. I am using the method of discourse analysis introduced by Foucault and Nazzaro (1972) to challenge the truths constructed by the feminist theory around the problem of trafficking. This motive has been inspired by my interest in the critical study of language written within texts to determine the relation between anti-trafficking discourse and power in context to sex work. Beginning by introducing the conceptual and historical stances taken by the criminological theories which treat sex work as a form of deviance and then situating these theories with the development of feminist perspectives, neo abolitionists and non-abolitionists, the discussion of limitations in these theoretical frameworks is conducted along with a brief case study of British colonial impact in relation to sex work and prostitution in India. Further, the directions towards the future research in the field of trafficking and sex work have been discussed.

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