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Journal of Human Trafficking


Numerous heated debates about human trafficking pervade mainstream media as well as the scholarly literature. The United States’ law and order approach to human trafficking, which prioritizes criminal prosecution of traffickers, is supported by many anti-trafficking advocates. But others have articulated powerful critiques of this approach. The first part of this article provides an introduction to some of these debates, focusing on five areas: definitions of human trafficking, the scope of the problem, causes and solutions of human trafficking, the effectiveness and impact of anti-trafficking laws, and anti-trafficking dis courses. This section will discuss the role of research on trafficking in the development of law and policy. The article’s second part will provide a more in-depth examination of how these debates play out among feminists, who have been deeply divided historically and still today on issues related to sexuality. Women of color, in particular, have opposed the law and order approach to violence against women in the United States and have questioned criminal justice approaches to trafficking that do not address structural economic an d social factors that make people vulnerable to trafficking. This paper will conclude with recommendations for some guiding principles for future public policy and research.





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Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.



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