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Reflections from Victims of Human Trafficking: A Multidisciplinary Problematization of a Category

Dr. Ayesha Ahmad

20th June 2017

A recent multi-disciplinary conference held at UCL on ‘Victims of Human Trafficking: A Multidisciplinary Problematization of a Category’ showed the value of critical discussion and engagement of a topic that is continuously generating new phenomena.

From a gender analysis, it is interesting that out of four panels, the only time a gender was identified was the panel on ‘As Women and Sex Workers’. The other panels were ‘As Patients and Recipients’, ‘As Slaves’, and ‘As Migrants’, respectively.

Trafficking has traditionally been reduced into an aspect of society that involves the transferring of women across border — and boundaries of human rights for purposes of exploitation and violence.

However, the conference did indeed address the significant nuances in both the operation of and experience of trafficking.

The elusiveness of solidifying a victim permitted a critical lens for understanding the gender dynamics involved in trafficking. Furthermore, disengaging with the dichotomy of perpetrator and victim helped to understand the context of the movement of individuals that reinforced unequal gender norms and social processes that created vulnerabilities towards violence.

The talk that I provided on ‘Gender-based Violence: Vulnerability in Migrant Journeys’ aimed to show the continuation of harms and violations of various forms of gender-based violence. In terms, the gendered nature of the violence impacts on help-seeking behaviour, stigma, mental health and health and illness.

Overall, the discussion provided a strong foundation for further collaborations and discourses in which to situate complex understandings of the notion of a victim and of trafficking and the need for a framework of gender to understand health vulnerabilities.

‘Victims of Human Trafficking: A Multidisciplinary Problematization of a Category’ took place on 7th June, hosted by the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies. See here for further information on the event.