From Prosecution to Empowerment: Fighting Trafficking and Promoting the Rights of Migrants


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Human trafficking is a dire problem that thus far has generated shortsighted and lopsided solutions. Not only is there limited research about trafficking- as noted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the information advanced by the U.S. government and media is not usually based on rigorous research- the movement against it has also not developed collaborative relationships with other related struggles in order to deepen and broaden our understanding of this complex problem. Moreover, often government resources and humanitarian aid that go into the war on trafficking are not a directed towards the vital empowerment of labor migrants and the reduction of their vulnerability to trafficking.

From Prosecution to Empowerment aims to contribute to connecting the fight on human trafficking with broader movements to empower migrant laborers. Its aims are to address how the war on trafficking can be a vehicle for promoting the human and worker rights of migrants, how to reduce their vulnerability to abuse, and how to empower them in the process of labor migration. Mindful that trafficking affects a wide range of workers- including agricultural workers, domestic workers, and garment workers- the scope of the conference extends beyond sex work. Instead, the conference brings attention to a vast array of migrants who are susceptible to trafficking not because of the nature of their occupation but rather because of their limited rights as migrants and workers. They include migrant workers who labor under conditions of indenture, guest workers who are denied full citizenship rights, and undocumented workers who face the threat of criminal prosecution.


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