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Rescuing Trafficking from Ideological Capture: Prostitution Reform and Anti-Trafficking Law and Policy by Janie Chuang

In the decade since it became a priority on the United States’ national agenda, the issue of human trafficking has spawned enduring controversy. New legal definitions of “trafficking” were codified in international and U.S. law in 2000, but what conduct qualifies as “trafficking” remains hotly contested. Despite shared moral outrage over the plight of trafficked persons, debates over whether trafficking encompasses voluntary prostitution continue to rend the anti-trafficking advocacy community—and are as intractable as debates over abortion and other similarly contentious social issues. Attempts to equate trafficking with slavery invite both disdain and favor: they are often rejected for their insensitive and legally inaccurate conflation with transatlantic slavery yet simultaneously embraced for capturing the moral urgency of addressing this human rights problem. The antitrafficking movement itself has been attacked by those who believe it is built on specious statistics concerning the problem’s magnitude and by others who think it undermines human rights goals by drawing attention away from migrants’ rights and efforts to combat slavery in all its contemporary forms.

Rescuing Trafficking from Ideological Capture 

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