Changing the system from within

The role of NGOs in the flawed anti-trafficking framework

Authored by: Marieke van Doorninck

Routledge Handbook of Human Trafficking

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138892064
eBook ISBN: 9781315709352
Adobe ISBN:


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Anti-trafficking policies are often (mis)used by governments as a palliative, in order not to tackle the root causes of exploitation and abuse. States use human rights and anti-trafficking rhetoric but, in reality, anti-migration measures prevail over the obligation to uphold rights; and the neo-liberal pressure to deregulate the labour markets is leaving more and more workers without protection. 1 People are being deprived of the tools to protect themselves from exploitation, such as legal labour migration (and job) opportunities and strong labour protection mechanisms. When workers are subsequently severely exploited, they are entitled to support, legal aid and possibly a temporary residence permit. But only if they come forward or are ‘found’; if they are officially identified as victims 2 by the authorities; if their exploitative situation fits the legal definition of THB; if they behave like a victim; and if they are willing to co-operate with the authorities. Only if all these boxes are ticked are States willing to allow trafficked persons to participate in a State-developed victim protection scheme. General rights protections are being reduced and replaced by exclusive rights for a limited group, justified by anti-trafficking rhetoric, and even by human rights language.

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