A feminist perspective about the feminist perspective

Month: May, 2013

My, what a large frontal cortex you have!

Okay, I hate the “Love your body” campaign.

I understand the original purpose: to show that all women are beautiful no matter how they look.  But much like this:


It still objectifies the fuck out of women by making it about their bodies, completely ignoring the women as human beings.  We haven’t changed the conversation of objectification, we’ve simply diverted to making it some sort of celebration.

There are a plethora of facebook pages “celebrating” curvy girls while bashing skinny girls, and more often than not it’s just a bunch of body bashing or sexual comments.


And even in feminist circles it becomes about the body and not the mind.  Women with “non-traditional” bodies are being praised for bravely showing off their bodies in sexual ways.  But we don’t know a damn thing about that woman in her bra and panties.  Except for that she’s brave for being in a bra and panties. 

It isn’t changing the way we think about women.  The conversation is still focused on their bodies and the way they feel about their bodies.  Or the way men feel about their bodies.  Or what kind of laugh we can get from making fun of advertising that’s still happening.

Why isn’t their a better campaign?  The “Don’t objectify yourself or others” campaign, or the “Be yourself” campaign, or even the “My body shape and size isn’t your fucking business” campaign.

I’ll start.  Don’t objectify yourself or others!  You are not your body. 



The Saturday cat is so privileged that he totally disrespects the Sunday cat’s space

Don’t appropriate your appropriation on me, appropriators! That word just lost all meaning. Good.

Feminist Philosophers

If you’re anything like me, you get annoyed by the way the phrase “check your privilege” – while it can sometimes be used to make a really important point – is so often employed to shut down disagreement, carve lines of moral superiority, and do all sorts of other similar and similarly conversationally shitty things. But do you know what? You need to check your getting-annoyed-at-blogosphere-trope privilege. And do you know who else needs to check their privilege? These fucking cats.


19 Cats Who Need to Check Their Privilege


This cat who doesn't realize there are kitties with no paws because he's ableist:

“This cat doesn’t realize there are kitties with no paws, because he is ableist.”

View original post

I’m telling the whole world.  The paperwork went

I’m telling the whole world.  The paperwork went through and I got my second major, so I am officially a graduate with majors in both Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics.  Hellz yeah!

Yeah, this isn’t feminist stuff.  Except for women can rock.  Like I do today.  And I’m not ashamed to brag about it. 

Breaking out music

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, so I’m going to start out nice and easy.


I freaking love music, especially the kind that lets me jump around like a maniac while I’m singing along.  It’s rather disappointing when a song is reserved, keeping to the mainstream.  It doesn’t mean I don’t find it appealing; that’s why its mainstream.  But the songs that really stick with me are the ones that break all the rules.

The “Fuck you, I’m going to get my point across whether you like it or not” music.

The blatantly sexual songs

Or songs that are both

There needs to be songs that break the boundaries of our comfort zones.  It’s imperative for the silence to be shattered about topics so that people can start normalizing themselves to the ideas and embrace more equality.  Topics can only be taboo for so long before they become part of culture.

Like a multi-ethnic kiss in the 80s, or the loving kiss of two gay men in the 2000s

So get out there with your favorite song and break those boundaries!

Human Trafficking Part 7


            This paper has outlined the various struggles that come with studying human trafficking, particularly in the United States.  The problem is diverse and widespread, with very little methodological grasp on the situation.  While the government and some organizations are helping to limit the crime and rescue victims, it is still a widely underreported phenomenon that needs to be addressed more thoroughly by researchers.

            The first step to stopping human trafficking is through education and awareness, a step that this paper and many others hope to accomplish.  While this paper was being written, Stephanie Hepburn, who wrote “Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in the United States”, completed the book that was based on the article I have drawn on several times in my own research.  Kevin Bales, who works with Freetheslaves.net, has written numerous books about modern day slavery and works to come up with positive solutions.  CNN continues to report on human trafficking with its freedom project, creating awareness through popular media.  The Polaris Project continues to tell stories of survivors in order to show the severity of human trafficking.  Many blogs are dedicated to reporting about human trafficking.  Facebook pages against human trafficking continue to crop up and bring in followers.

            This is only the beginning of the research that could be done about human trafficking.  There have been numerous attempts to quantify and understand the crime, but, “Today, there is only a glimmer of an organized response to our need to study and understand the lives of slaves and slaveholders in America.  We have no journal, no institute, no accepted body of knowledge, only the first few college courses and a loose handful of experts who are learning on the job and piecing things together as best they can” (Bales: 2009).  We’ve only studied the surface of this crime, and until we can find a way to search deeper, we have little hope in eliminating the problem.

ABC Primetime

     2006 Teen Girls’ Stories of Sex Trafficking in the U.S. ABC, February 9.

Aunger, Robert

     1995 On Ethnography: Storytelling or Science? Current Anthropology 36 (1): 97-130

Bales, Kevin and Ron Soodalter

     2009 The Slave Next Door. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Breuil, Benda

     2008 ‘Precious Children in a Heartless World’? The Complexities of Child Trafficking in Marseille. Children and Society 22: 223-234.

Breaking the Chains of Generational Curses

     N.d. Require Identification and Documentation for Children to board planes. https://www.change.org/petitions/require-identification-and-documentation-for-children-to-board-planes?utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition, accessed April 22, 2013.

Chicago Tribune

     2012 Chicago police taught to be more alter to signs of human trafficking. February 23.

Donovan, Brian and Tori Barnes-Brus

      2011 Narratives of the Sexual Consent and Coercion: Forced Prostitution Trials in Progressive-Era New York City. Law & Social Inquiry 36(3): 597-619.

Enslin, Elizabeth

     1994 Beyond Writing: Feminist Practice and the Limitations of Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 9 (4): 537-568.

Feyerick, Deborah and Sheila Steffen

     2012 U.S Midwest in crosshairs of child sex trafficking fight. CNN,  June 20.

Freeman, David

     2011 Organ theft? Guilty plea spotlights illegal organ trade. CBS News, October 28.

Global Business Coalition against Human Trafficking

     N.d Focus Areas. Global Business Coalition against Human Trafficking. http://www.gbcat.org/?page_id=38, accessed April 22, 2013

Gozdziak, Elzbieta M

     2008 On Challenges, Dilemmas and Opportunities in Studying Trafficked Children. Anthropological Quarterly 81 (4): 903-923.

Hepburn, Stephanie and Rita J. Simon

     2010 Hidden in Plain Sight: Human Trafficking in the United States. Gender Issues 27: 1-26.

Hopper, Elizabeth K.

     2004 Underidentification of Human Trafficking Victims in the United States. Journal of Social Work Research and Evaluation 5(2): 125-136.

Interlandi, Jeneen

     2009 Not Just Urban Legend. The Daily Beast, January 9.

Kavilanz, Parija

     2011 How much ‘forced labor’ fuels your lifestyle? CNN Money, September 22.

Lassiter, Luke Eric

     2005 Collaborative Ethnography and Public Anthropology. Current Anthropology 46 (1): 83-106.

Lyons, Andrew P. and Harriet D. Lyons

     2006 The New Anthropology of Sexuality. Anthropologica 48: 153-157.

Marcus, George

     1995 Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 95-117.

Molland, Sverre

     2011 ‘I am helping them’: Traffickers’, ‘anti-traffickers’ and economies of bad faith. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 22: 236-254.

Office of the Press Secretary

     2013 The Obama Administration’s Record on Human Trafficking Issues. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/09/obama-administration-s-record-human-trafficking-issues, accessed April 22, 2013


Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

     2013 Trafficking in Persons Report 2012: Country Narratives: T-Z and Special Case.

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

     2013 Trafficking in Persons Report 2012: Victims’ Stories.


Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

     2013 Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Minimum Standards for the Elimination of Trafficking in Persons.

Pijl, Yvon van der with Brenda Breuil and Dina Siegel

     2011 Is there such thing as ‘global sex trafficking’? A patchwork tale on useful (mis)understandings. Crime Law Social Change 56: 567-582.

Siskin, Alison and Liana Sun Wyler

     2011 Trafficking in persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress. Trends in Organized Crime 14: 267-271.

Skibola, Nicole

     2012 Technology, Business, and Anti-Human Trafficking Innovation. Forbes, January 4.

Sutter, John

     2013 In Praise of ‘Slactivism’. CNN, April 12.

Thomas, Nicholas

     1991 Against Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 6 (3): 306-322

Tyldum, Guri and Anette Brunovskis

     2005 Describing the Unobserved: Methodological Challenges in Empirical Studies on Human Trafficking. International Migration 43 (1/2).

Human Trafficking Part 6

Read Part one here: https://wildfeministappears.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/human-trafficking-part-1/


How Useful is Current Methodology?

Much of the methodology used to study human trafficking has been criticized by researchers, who believe it has the same problems as any global problem: It’s difficult to quantify, especially when trying to come to numbers in regions.  Some anthropologists believe that there can be no true collaboration of an entire area.  Police, health officials, the government, victims, and others much work together to create a clear picture, and this is an impossibility in many arenas, despite how globalization has brought communities together (Pijl: 2011).

Anna Tsing has started an innovative type of ethnography called “patchwork ethnography”, in which the ethnographies are connected together through fragments.  She believes that some connections are stronger than others and can help make sense of the global phenomenon, and how some of the situations are uniquely similar for everyone in the world (Pijl: 2011).  Unfortunately, some people may have agendas when giving away information and hiding certain other facts from researchers.  Many publications are influenced by political debates rather than keeping to systematic research (Tyldum: 2005).

Victims are also lumped together due to the lack of accurate numbers.  Women and children are often clumped together, and men are sometimes ignored altogether, especially young boys who are forced into the same types of situations.  When children are brought out of trafficking, it is exceedingly difficult to gain information on them because of their service providers, who protect them as a vulnerable population.  There is a necessity in making close connections to the practitioners, which makes the research sometimes seem biased to what the service providers want, considered “self-serving” (Gozdziak: 2008).

The information needs to be systematically examined based on current definitions of who is being trafficked, who has been trafficked, and who is at risk of being trafficked.  This kind of information is based on UN protocols of who is and who isn’t a victim of trafficking.  It is also important to gather information on all types of trafficking, like organ trafficking, bridal contracts, and child soldiers (the latter two are unlikely in the United States).  Most of the research done now is based on stories from survivors and those involved in the investigations, leading to an underestimation of the problem (Tyldum: 2005).

            Due to a lack of information, very few methodologies exist to ascertain the kind of situation that the United States is dealing with.  Field work would be an unwarranted risk to the anthropologists as well as the victims, and statistical numbers are impossible to come by.  Therefore, ethnographies have become a staple in understanding human trafficking.  However, even ethnographical research has its pros and cons within the situation, many of which are being debated for other types of subjects.

            Ethnographies within anthropology are typically used to study other cultures, but can also be used to study phenomenon in the world by writing about the experiences of those within the situation.  However, this kind of writing tends to separate “us” and “them”, which gives the idea that human trafficking can only happen to certain types of people, a theory that Americans already have.  It also presupposes that there will be no mutual ground between the researcher and the interviewee (Thomas: 1991).

            There is also the issue of applied versus academic anthropology, in which this sort of research, from an academic setting, does not do much to help resolve the trafficking situation or the people who are being interviewed.  There can be very little engagement in the research, as that would form a bias, but there needs to be a way to represent other “realities” that makes them accessible to the general public.  Also, if the writing is not accessible to even those who are being interviewed, because they can’t read the material or understand the concepts, then the writing has little practical use (Enslin: 1994).  This paper, along with many others like it, can quantify the human trafficking problem, but will most likely stay within the academic community, giving little purpose to others who may be involved in the crime.  Pramila Parajuli, a woman from Nepal, said, “After all, what is writing: You looked, you saw, you wrote a book.  But that book won’t do anything if not companied by work, by practice” (Enslin: 1994).

            Anthropologists continue to struggle with their multifaceted relationship with public and activist research.  Collaborative ethnographies are an essential part of bring the interviewed person into the process so that it is well known what the person believes is important and what needs to be done.  This helps with understanding the original point of view of the situation, as without it there may be misrepresentation that ruins the research that may be useful in learning about human trafficking (Lassiter: 2005).  This is especially important when it comes to a sense of agency for the victims, as they may have different feelings about trafficking than the researcher does.

            Also, ethnographies are not based on scientific research, but on inferences based on individual stories.  Those who are speaking to anthropologists are aware of their interview and what they would like to say, and form their answers around their own bias, controlling what is observed by the researcher (Aunger: 1995).  Oftentimes, survivors are shy about saying anything about their situation, for fear or for other reasons.  It is important for the researcher to understand variability within the ethnography and how to isolate aspects that may influence observations, making certain that there are no methodological biases on the part of the researcher or the person being researched. (Aunger: 1995).

            In a scientific sense, each scenario has no chance in being replicated, but it is the job of the anthropologist to analyze the information and find connections between the stories, themes that might be repeated, such as how traffickers handled the slaves, or how they were brought into the trafficking ring (Aunger: 1995).  Multi-sited ethnographies, those that collect information from multiple sites, are good for this kind of research, because they follow connections, and relationships that occur in cases (Marcus: 1995).  It does take skill to understand the nuances between cultures when it comes to doing multi-cited ethnographies, but it helps to understand the global connections of the phenomenon.  It has been suggested that each story be connected to processes within the world system to better comprehend the whole of the problem, such as when traffickers prey on those who have little in the world or unstable family lives (Marcus: 1995).

Human Trafficking Part 5

Read part one here: https://wildfeministappears.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/human-trafficking-part-1/


What is being done to help?

            Organizations, activist groups, and the government are coming together to help fight against human trafficking in the United States, by creating awareness, identifying victims, and providing services to help people back on their feet.  Many organizations and activist groups that fight human trafficking now have Facebook pages that are readily sharable and available for people to understand the situation in front of them.  Some of these pages are from Break the Chains, the Blue Heart Campaign, Stop the Traffick, Free the Slaves, and other organizations that do not primarily focus on human trafficking, but wish to address the issue.

            Some organizations work to identify victims, such as one in Washington D.C., which developed an alert system so that they could look through media and personal connections to find those who are involved in trafficking (Hopper: 2004).  Polaris Project is a non-governmental organization tells true stories about those who were in trafficking, and provides services to those who need them.  This gives others a chance to identify victims and be aware of who to contact in case there is a situation.  Google and Microsoft both started initiatives to help with anti-trafficking.  Microsoft created research to understand the role of technology in trafficking, and Google gave out grants to those who wanted to fight trafficking (Skibola: 2012).

Still other organizations, such as The Emancipation Network and Free the Slaves, work with survivors, giving them fair pay on products that they make and selling them on the internet (Bales: 2009).  Programs and social workers help children with psychological problems come to terms with what has happened, through many types of counseling (Gozdziak: 2008).  People outside of organizations work alone, writing to companies and keeping a watch out for people being exploited.  One woman in Florida started helping by asking those who make feminine hygiene products to put emergency hotline numbers on their packaging so that victims could find a place to call (Bales: 2009).

Companies have also banded together to make sure that human trafficking is limited, within and outside of their companies, by holding training sessions to identify those in the trafficking situation, as well as watch the practices of their businesses so that they don’t exploit workers.  This is called the Global Business Coalition against Human Trafficking, and involves companies such as the Coca-Cola Company, Ford, Microsoft, and the Hilton hotels.  Their approach is “Providing a resource for orientation and operational guidance to companies who desire to understand human trafficking and how it affects business, championing and disseminating best practices in business to end human trafficking, including all forms of forced labor and sex trafficking, and driving connections between businesses and governments, international organizations, non-profits and civil society for the purpose of knowledge- and idea-sharing on solutions to address human trafficking” (Gbcat focus areas: 2013).

Awareness is becoming a critical issue, and people are making strides to make it easy for others to understand the situation.  Slaveryfootprint.org, for example, is a comprehensive quiz that allows people to see how many slaves are involved in the labor of the things they use every day.  It started in 2011, and asked 11 lifestyle questions, such as where the person lives, what food they eat, and what products they buy (not by brand name).  It would then tell them how many slaves it takes to gain all of those products (Kavilanz: 2011).  The DNA foundation started the “Real men don’t buy girls” campaign, which involves many high profile men who speak about not trafficking girls and women.  Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake, along with NFL football stars, are just a few of the men who joined the campaign (Skibola: 2012).

Change.org is also making it possible for people to help in the trafficking situation by allowing them to sign petitions that involve trafficking, as it does with many other issues.  One such petition is for a requirement in which children must have documentation in order to get on a plane, so that it is more difficult for traffickers to get them across the country (Breaking the Chains of Generational Curses: 2013).  These sorts of petitions can get the message to companies about what people care about when it comes to protecting themselves and others from trafficking.

The End It Movement, which happened April 9th, 2013, was a huge part of awareness.  People all over the world put red X’s on their hands to signify that they were aware of human trafficking and the need to stop it.  While the act alone did not move toward ending the crime, it did bring education to those who did not know about the situation, because they were curious enough to ask what was going on.  This activism might have also called to new activists and their potential for action (Sutter: 2013).

As for the government, the Obama administration has made huge strides since the beginning of its second term to make combatting human trafficking more of a reality.  Beyond protection, prevention, and prosecution that go along with the TVPA, the administration has added partnering without organizations into the mix, allowing its influence to be used by others.  It also started a five year plan to create more aid for victims of trafficking, the first of its kind (The Obama Administration’s Record on Human Trafficking Issues: 2013).

The newest reauthorization of the TVPA, now called the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, also has some additions to help with human trafficking on a larger scale.  New wording has included reckless disregard to the crime of sex trafficking, meaning that the trafficker no longer had to have previously known that they were going to engage in force, coercion or fraud previous to the act.  The new act also provides extra-territorial jurisdiction to trafficking crimes committed outside the states if the offender is a national of the United States (Bales: 2011).

Human Trafficking Part 4

Read part 1 here: https://wildfeministappears.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/human-trafficking-part-1/


Governmental laws against trafficking

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of the United States has a three part plan to stop human trafficking: through prevention, prosecution, and protection.  It was the first law to address trafficking within the United States.   However, this kind of work has just started, as human trafficking was not even monitored until 1994.  The TVPA has prosecuted for victims that have come from all over the world, but it has its limitations as victims must be fully willing to assist with every part of the investigation, and may have trouble keeping their stories straight due to constant questioning (Hopper: 2004).

The TVPA, by its own wording, only intends to prevent and prosecute severe forms of trafficking (Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Minimum Standards for the Elimination of Trafficking in Persons: 2013).  It does, however, reach the minimum requirements for dealing with human trafficking, but each state was in charge of its own anti-trafficking statute, and Wyoming just created its own laws in 2013, far behind the other states.  In 2011, the Department of Justice, along with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor launched 40 anti-trafficking task force teams, but by the end that was reduced to 29 teams due to funding (TIP report: 2012).

            The Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section of the Department of Justice is primarily in charge of the trafficking situation in the United States, and since the TVPA was initiated the DOJ “has doubled the number of trafficking prosecutions and tripled the number of defendants.” However, many of these cases are mislabeled as worker exploitation rather than actual trafficking, given the traffickers leeway in the justice system (Hopper: 2004).

            Victims also have to help to the fullest extent that they can in order to get any help, but language barriers as well as mental struggles can cause problems for them, and they may not get the prosecution of their trafficker or aid that they need (Hopper: 2004).  Also, many of these “severe” cases are based on whether or not sex was involved, as the TVPA warrants information for if the government has made serious efforts to reduce the demand for those in the sex trafficking industry, and not for the labor trafficking industry, leaving those in the labor part of the system lacking help, and leaving loopholes for little elimination of the issue (Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Minimum Standards for the Elimination of Trafficking in Persons: 2013).

            Prosecution differs between sex trafficking and other types of trafficking.  Sex trafficking prosecutions have a minimum of ten years imprisonment attached to punishment, and can be extended to a life sentence.  Other types of trafficking, however, have a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years attached.  These conditions are considered stringent, and during the year of 2011, several sex traffickers were given life sentencing, with the average trafficker getting around 11 years of imprisonment (TIP report: 2013).  Traffickers, when prosecuted, are automatically made to pay restitution to their victims.  In 2008, they had to pay more than 4.2 million dollars to the victims. (Hepburn: 2010).

            Protection of the victims includes their necessary involvement with the legal process.  Those who are considered minors are not required to help with the investigation, nor are those with psychological trauma.  No victim is required to testify in court during the trial.  Those who are eligible for services are given visas if they are immigrants, and the United States has a program for all victims that readjusts them to society and back to their families.  In 2011, the DOJ had grants with 42 victim service organizations, although funding for some services fell short during the year (TIP report: 2013).

            Prevention involves stringent investigations into the work habits of those in the labor force in the United States.  In 2012, the United States Agency for International Development, along with the DOL, created a new set of rules for trafficking, leading to the dishonorable discharge of one member from the Department of Defense, as well as an updated list of 130 items from 71 countries that were believed to be made through forced labor.  As for awareness, the DHS and the DOS created online awareness training for the public, and the HHS funded 11 projects to promote awareness.  The HHS also started an NGO trafficking outline, which received over 16,000 calls in 2011 (TIP report: 2013).

            Chicago recently held a seminar for its police force, focusing on being aware of human trafficking.  It was attended by about 300 law officials, but the seminar talked about sex trafficking and ignored other types of trafficking that they should be aware of (Chicago Tribune: 2012).  In New York, the anti-trafficking law against sex trafficking is significantly more stringent than the labor trafficking laws, due to the effort of lobbyists (Hepburn: 2010). The Department of Labor found nearly 5,000 minors that were illegally employed in labor trafficking during 2008 in the United States, forced to work in hazardous conditions with machinery that they were prohibited to use (Hepburn: 2010).

Non-citizens of the United States are more likely to be forced in labor trafficking than domestic persons, making non-citizens more invisible (Siskin: 2010).  Workers can lose their visas when they leave their trafficking situation, which can also lead to them being arrested and deported, despite the fact that they left their work due to dismal conditions (Hepburn: 2010).  In fact, in one situation, a victim was forced by a United States law enforcer to stay with the trafficker until he repaid his inflated debt (Hepburn: 2010).

Also, males are generally not considered victims in trafficking situations, even though out of 286 adults certified as victims by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, nearly half were male (Hepburn: 2010).  This signifies that nearly half of those being trafficked are not only in a hidden population, but also being ignored within that population and lacking the aid that others barely get as it is.

Human Trafficking Part 3

Read part 1 here: https://wildfeministappears.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/human-trafficking-part-1/



            Maria Elena was smuggled into the United States from Mexico under the premise of being able to make money waiting tables.  Instead, she was prostituted and forced into sex with up to 30 men a day.  12 year old Ashley got into a fight with her mother, stayed with a friend’s brother for the night, and was prostituted the next day (Victim’s Stories: 2013).  Chicago, Illinois is considered a main area for human trafficking in the United States because of its tourism and conventions, with about 4,400 prostitutes active every week (Chicago Tribune: 2012).  The number of minors involved in sex trafficking is over 5,000 in Nevada, where it is easy to slip through the cracks of a busy city (Siskin: 2010).

            These cases were purely sex trafficking issues, whereas trafficking of all types happens in the United States.  In fact, human trafficking for the purpose of labor may be just as prevalent, if not more (Hepburn: 2010).  Bennu, a 10 year old Egyptian girl, was forced to do labor in California for two years, and was physically and emotionally abused by the family keeping her (Hepburn: 2010).  A woman in Texas worked a young girl to the point of exhaustion in her home, and when the girl would doze off from exhaustion, the girl would be blasted with pepper spray so she would stay awake.  Another slave was forced to write letters to the master’s dogs, and was put into a portrait photo with the animals, as part of one of the pets of the house, stripping her of her humanity entirely (Bales: 2009).

            Organ trafficking is also a possibility within the United States.  In 2011, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum admitted in Federal Court to trafficking three kidneys in the New York area.  He retrieved these organs from Israel to give to United States citizens.  This is called the first confirmed case of organ trafficking in the United States, but it is very unlikely it is the first case altogether (Freeman: 2011).  With the current waiting time for an organ being an average of 10 years, it is not impossible that some desperate people would barter with the black market for life saving body parts.  Nancy Scheper-Hughes has spent many years tracking down stories of organ trafficking, and has proved that it is no myth to have an organ taken away from an unsuspecting victim (Interlandi: 2009).

The FBI estimates of 100,000 women and children are trafficked in the United States as of 2006 (ABC Primetime: 2006).  The gender division is stark for sex trafficking, where 98% are women and children.  In labor trafficking, however, the numbers are far more even, with 44% being men and boys.  40 to 50% of those forced into labor trafficking are children (Hepburn: 2010).  Federal and state investigations are raised for sex trafficking far more than labor trafficking, possibly adding to the lack of information or stories about those in other types of trafficking (TIP report: 2012).

            The following sections are broken down by different themes.  The first section speaks to the prevalence of human trafficking in the United States.  The second section covers governmental and state laws that affect those in human trafficking, and those studying the crime.  The third section talks about what is being done by the United States activists, government, and others to help those being trafficked.  The final section speaks about current methodology in research to quantify and understand the crime.


Where in the United States is trafficking happening?

            As of 2010, the United States was one of the top 10 places that people were trafficked into for forced labor and sex.  Reports of trafficking have come from over 90 US cities, and while this may not seem like a lot of cities, it is also difficult to ascertain how many people are actually being trafficked (Hepburn: 2010).  Estimations range greatly, from 17,000 children being trafficked into the United States to 17,000 people in general being trafficked.  This is due to different methods of quantification, which will be discussed more thoroughly in the methods section of the analysis.  Since the beginning of the TVPA in 2000 until 2006, only 102 children were identified as eligible victims (Gozdziak: 2008).

            Ohio has made strides to come up with strong numbers for their trafficking problem, but have limited themselves to children rather than the whole of the problem.  According to their numbers, 1,078 domestic children are trafficked annually.  783 foreign born individuals are guessed to be in a trafficking situation within the state.  However, the report blatantly states that the numbers are impossible to verify with perfect certainty (Siskin: 2011).

            This limitation is due to the difficulty in studying hidden populations, those for which there is no known size or boundaries, and oftentimes the people within the population are involved in illegal activity, making it difficult to speak to them (Tyldum: 2005).  The U.S. makes estimations every year, and has been increasingly conservative with its numbers.  In 2000, the estimates were 45,000-50,000 victims, and the number jumped to between 50,000 and 100,000 the next year.  The estimations decreased from there.  Most recent estimates are based on foreign born trafficking victims, ignoring the domestic numbers entirely (Hopper: 2004).

            Trafficking is not only in the streets and homes of those in the U.S.; it is also in the fields and businesses.  The Coalition of Immokalee workers has been investigating since the early 1990’s to find out what kind of modern day slavery is happening in agriculture.  Laborers are being abused and killed to keep prices low, and the numbers continue to the big corporations in the food industry (Bales: 2009).  Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver, Pizza Hut, and A&W, was boycotted by CIW until it paid a penny more per pound for the vegetables that it was bringing in so that trafficking and slavery would be cut significantly in the fields.  Other companies, such as Subway and McDonalds, quickly followed suit.  Wal-Mart has yet to join in on helping against slave labor, and considering its large pull in the United States, labor trafficking continues at a strong pace (Bales: 2009).

Human Trafficking Part 2

Read part 1 here: https://wildfeministappears.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/human-trafficking-part-1/



My argument is that trafficking, in all its forms, is not only a global issue, but an issue that is prevalent and detrimental to the United States.  Slavery, despite being abolished, is still rampant in the nation.  “’These are human beings who are owned by someone else, who lack the ability to walk away, who lack the ability to make a decision in their own self-interest to do something else,’ said [Ernie] Allen. ‘If that’s not slavery, I don’t know what is.’” (ABC Primetime: 2006)

Throughout the paper I will provide evidence that human trafficking could happen in any state, that there are people actively working to solve the problem, and in fact there are many stories that are not being widely told that could bring awareness to the problem.  It is important to understand that this issue is not just in third world countries, nor is it contained to a specific part of the world.  Not only are people trafficked into the United States to be used as slaves, domestic populations are also being forced into slavery in large numbers.

I also argue that without awareness, there is no possibility of this problem being resolved, and that the community has to work together and be prepared to make sacrifices in order to help those in slavery.  I will give examples of who has already helped to bring about awareness and made sacrifices in my analysis, as well as what can continue to be done to resolve the issue, although most likely not in my lifetime.

Human trafficking is detrimental for many reasons, such as physical, emotional, and psychological suffering, as well as financial burdens that cripple the victim’s ability to make a new life for themselves.  In New Orleans, slaves were forced to eat pigeons and drink dirty water during the time after Katrina, where they had no escape from their situation (Hepburn: 2010).  In Minnesota a woman was pimped around fifty times a night, and she created a serious drug problem in order to stop the pain (Feyerick: 2012).  Those who have been trafficked are particularly vulnerable to psychological issues such as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), so much so that they are unable to help with the investigations against their attackers (Hopper: 2004).  These stories from the United States are clear indicators of the problem at hand, and currently the solutions to the problems are limited, as I will explain throughout the paper.



My method of research was based on previous literature from people within the anthropological field, and a few other closely related fields discussing the topic.  My search terms mentioned human trafficking in general, and then more specific terms involving the United States and hidden populations.  While this information is useful, much of it is focused on sex trafficking and other places in the world.  Library research was limited, so most of my searching was done through search engines, such as Anthrosource, Ebscohost, Jstor, and the like.

Other parts of my research came from government documents, such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Minimum Standards for the Elimination of Trafficking in Persons, and the Trafficking in Persons report.  Many of the interviews from survivors were found through Facebook pages that were dedicated to eliminating the problem of human trafficking, and the newspaper articles were found through various open search engines, such as Bing and Google.  My research was then broken down into several sections that will be expounded upon throughout the rest of the paper.

Many anthropologists are calling for better methodology during research when it comes to hidden populations such as those being trafficked (Pijl: 2011, Gozdziak: 2008, Tyldum: 2005).  Scholars are discouraged by the challenges of estimating the problem, and the research that has been done has been more systematic rather than focused on human involvement.  Literature and academic research is particularly limited when it comes to children, who are often shoved into the “women and children” category, making the information less specific (Gozdziak: 2008).  In some areas, children are not considered trafficked unless they have been recruited against their own will, which leads to the question of how much agency a child can have and what the culture considers childhood (Breuil: 2008).

Oftentimes, inferences are made about the information that is available, making estimation of the problem more difficult.  Most of the studies come from taking police information about trafficked individuals, immigrants who are taken advantage of, and standard information about migrants.  This is a problem because the information is not inclusive of all trafficking victims, nor does it give any indication of numbers (Tyldum: 2005).  Methodology is tricky for this kind of information, and the reasons why will be extrapolated throughout the paper.

Those who don’t understand trafficking might also have a skewed idea of what trafficking is and who it affects based on modern culture, such as when white slavery stories were created and affected the early 1900 trials against prostitutes in New York, and in fact drew off of true events and made them more novelized (Donovan: 2011).  This is an issue because it might draw awareness to certain groups and not to others, as well as press the idea that it is important to rescue certain people.  The media oftentimes sticks to stories of missing people who are white, and although there are many ethnically diverse people disappearing into trafficking rings, it is not noticed by the general public.



            Due to different methodology being used for research, information within the anthropological community about human trafficking is sometimes at odds with each other.  The information can therefore be skewed and cause disproportionate numbers.  “’Victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ are stereotypically imagined whereas their experiences are diverse and their roles more complex and criminal networks are imagined as being omnipotent, spanning the globe and operating swiftly and fluidly” (Piji: 2011).  Non-profit organizations, the government, and the media tend to speak of victims and perpetrators in similarly simple terms (Molland: 2011).  This leads to only “severe” stories of trafficking being reported or noticed, something that will be further analyzed in the law section of my analysis.

            Also, stories about the condition of trafficking vary greatly, considering the issue is globalized and culture affects perception (Pijl: 2011).  Each country has their own norms and environmental factors that affect their views, such as with India and the caste system, or the United States and its trouble with immigration laws (Hepburn: 2010).  Illegal immigrants, for example, may not feel that they have an option in their situation to gain help, or they may still consider the work to be useful in order to get money to their families.  In fact, those who are trafficked for debts may continue to be in the trafficking business simply because it provides money for them and their family, and sometimes become traffickers themselves in order to gain more money.  This brings them from the victim to the perpetrator role, and makes the discussion more tricky (Lyons: 2006).

My research is based off of literature that mostly comes from anthropologists.  This information comes from all over the world, and the writers are different in their opinions about agency, statistics, and methodology.  A few of the articles are stories from survivors of trafficking; others are newspaper articles discussing the problem in the local area.  Much of the information about governmental laws comes from governmental documents, as well as some personal stories from survivors.  However, most are peer reviewed articles discussing technical aspects of human trafficking, flaws in the governmental and local laws, stories of survivors and activists, and what impact human trafficking has on the United States and those who are brought into the United States.

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