Distinguished Professor Emeritus And Professorial Fellow, Rutgers University
- There is a lack of updated data to clearly define the scope of the human trafficking.
- One barrier to measuring trafficking is the lack of a clear definition.
- The data and terminology regarding human trafficking is vague and inconsistent
In the article, “Representations and Misrepresentations of Human Trafficking,” Finckenauer and his co-author examine the perceptions and representations of human trafficking among stakeholder groups. Stakeholders include victims, governmental and non-governmental organizations, policy-makers, businesses, and more. Human trafficking has become linked to politics and other divisive issues in recent history. One example is the exploitation of women in the sex industry, which links trafficking to prostitution. This moves the issue into a moral ground and makes it difficult to support victims. Other portrayals of trafficking come from governmental organizations (including intergovernmental organizations and NGOs), which produce a majority of the academic literature on trafficking. These groups aim to focus the image of trafficking to young girls in need of protection to support their agenda and promote anti-trafficking measures. As human trafficking is also an under-researched topic, there is a lack of updated data to help understand the scope of the issue. One barrier to measuring trafficking is the lack of a clear definition. The meaning can range from sex trafficking to some form of servitude between organizations. The researchers found that by changing the definition of what human trafficking is, there were different meanings invoked (from sex industry, migration or crime) but all definitions agreed that trafficking is a violation of human rights. In conclusion, the authors note that because the data and terminology regarding human trafficking is vague and inconsistent, it is easy for organizations to promote their agendas. They also note that to better support anti-trafficking researchers and policymakers, organizations need to ground the definitions and get accurate, updated data.