Thoughts

  • มีนาคม 29, 2018

It would be nearly impossible to compile a comprehensive bibliography of all the articles written about trafficking children, or humans more generally. Over the past two or three decades, there has been an explosion of literature delving into trafficking, from a variety of perspectives–though if I may say, only a handful or so represent major advances in understanding.

Assuming readers here are aware that a) trafficking exists and b) is a huge problem, I would like to share the articles that stand out most in my mind, and were most influential for me in understanding the nature of the problem, and what should be done about it. I hope they prove as useful to others as they have been for me.

The Nature of the Problem

In 2014, the Anesvad Foundation and IOM Development Fund published a survey of trafficking survivors in South East Asia. Health and human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion: findings from a survey of men, women, and children in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam is a comprehensive study of the survivors’ characteristics, recruitment, exploitation, and subsequent effects. Of most interest to me, working in prevention, were pages 27-28 of the report where they discuss awareness of trafficking before it happened, reasons for leaving home, and who the survivor holds most responsible for their trafficking.

Regular readers of our blog are probably aware of the problem statelessness poses to the fight against human trafficking. A report published in The Netherlands, with the help of a U.S. Department of State grant, helps elucidate the problem. The Nexus between Statelessness and Human Trafficking in Thailand is an excellent resource.

A Critique

Everyone who has heard about the problem of human trafficking has no doubt heard the statistics, which range widely in their estimates of how many people are trafficked in the world, in various regions, and how many are children. Sociology professor Ronald Weitzer has called into question the veracity of these claims, many of which seem to have no apparent verifiable source. He has written several articles of this type, and in New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking, he goes further to argue the importance of micro-level research to help us understand the problem more deeply, and provide some basis for assessing the veracity of research conducted on the macro-level. As we at The Freedom Story believe strongly in the importance of evidence-based solutions, Weitzer’s work has been valuable to us as well.

What Can Be Done

One of my favorite articles about how we should think about fixing this problem comes from law professor Jonathan Todres, in the article Moving Upstream: The Merits of a Public Health Law Approach to Human Trafficking. He argues that a criminal approach (ie. police catching the bad guys, arresting and prosecuting them) is not nearly enough–it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the instance of trafficking. However, by reframing trafficking as a public health concern, we can introduce campaigns to broaden awareness and concern about trafficking as a problem, rally other industries to help identify and rescue victims, and shine a bigger light on trafficking prevention, which is of course something we can all get behind. Since the publication of his article, we have indeed witnessed the U.S. government taking steps to do a lot of what he prescribes. It’s a lengthy and dense read, but worth at least a skim if you have the time and inclination.

Last, but definitely not least, there is a local Chiang Mai magazine that published an article, Taking Action to Protect Children From Trafficking, about the fantastic work our friends at The HUG Project/ACT Center are doing in conjunction with the FBI, Homeland Security, Royal Thai Police, and other law enforcement agencies. The article explains their involvement, and is a fantastic intro into really exciting and promising on-the-ground intervention through a victim-centered approach.

Happy reading!

Dr. Jade Keller is the Thailand Program Advisor and Editor for The Freedom Story (formerly The SOLD Project). After receiving a PhD in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara, she moved with her family to northern Thailand in 2010 to work in child trafficking prevention, education, and helping to raise awareness. She currently writes from Berlin.