Conflating Prostitution with Human Trafficking

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CONFLATING PROSTITUTION WITH HUMAN TRAFFICKING Abigail Hmingthanpari Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1956 (hereinafter the Act) defines Prostitution as “the sexual exploitation or abuse of persons for commercial purposes or for consideration in money or in any other kind”. The Palermo Protocol in Article 3 defines Trafficking in persons as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”. The SAARC Convention in Article 1 defines “Trafficking as the moving, selling or buying of women and children for prostitution within and outside a country, for monetary or other considerations, with or without the consent of the person subjected to trafficking”. Often prostitution or sex work is alternately described as being the same as trafficking in persons or the cause of trafficking into sex work. Conflating prostitution and trafficking erases the voices of prostitutes thereby, worsening their conditions. The tendency to treat trafficking and prostitution as if they were the same thing has a long and problematic history. The conflation of prostitution with notions of trafficking relatively begins with the industrial revolution in Europe. During the era of ‘white slavery’, the social activists made distinction between two separate classes of sex workers – ‘innocent’ who were forced into selling
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