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date: 13 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay examines the challenges and dilemmas involved in conducting empirical research on human trafficking, particularly studies involving survivors of human trafficking. The discussion concentrates on cross-border trafficking of adults and children for labor and sexual exploitation. Issues of sex and gender, agency and vulnerability, and criminal justice responses are explored; historical antecedents of contemporary legal frameworks related to trafficking and smuggling as well as the relationships between smuggling and trafficking are highlighted; and the gendered dimension of the anti-trafficking discourse is emphasized. The essay concludes with a call for future research that goes beyond advocacy-focused studies that discuss women trafficked for sexual exploitation to include a broader array of issues and populations and an emphasis on empirical data and research.

Keywords: cross-border trafficking, agency, gender and age, vulnerability, survivorship, victimhood

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