Beyond "Criminal" Traffic: Charting a path towards a reckoning in the international human trafficking regime
Lasharie, Neiha S.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
The neat transition of the colonial-era “white slave traffic” regime into the trafficking in human beings (THB) regime has gone under-interrogated in international law scholarship. In seeking to correct for that gap, this paper makes three overarching arguments. ... read moreFirst, multi-lateral instruments countering THB emerged out of colonial-era gender- and race-relations. Second, ambiguity was designed into the regime such that it entrenched systemic and epistemic violence towards sex trafficking “victims,” sex workers, and migrants. Third, a more nuanced approach to countering THB is needed in order to decolonize the “white slavery”/THB regime. This paper analyzes the genealogy of the “white slavery”/THB regime to conclude that for the regime to be effective while centering human dignity, 1) a radical reimagining of international law is required that identifies when the absence of law is most useful; 2) in the interim, a harm-reductionist, sex worker-led THB framework must be championed on the international stage; and, 3) international law must actively dismantle the imperial and colonial roots of many of its regimes in order to truly foment progressive global governance.read less