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Children Trafficked to the United States: Myths and Realities ELśBIETA M. GOŹDZIAK ElŜbieta M. Goździak is director of research at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University.

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uman trafficking continues to capture the imagination of the global public. Gutwrenching narratives about women kept as sexual slaves and children sold into domestic servitude appear on the front pages of major international newspapers, in academic journals, and in books sold in university and commercial bookstores. Public discourse emphasises the particular vulnerability of trafficked children, related to bio-physiological, social, behavioural, and cognitive phases of the maturation process, and underscores the necessity to act in the children’s best interest. Little systematic research has been done on this issue. There are a lot of writings about human trafficking, mainly for sexual exploitation, but there is significantly less literature based on empirical research. The dominant anti-trafficking discourse is not evidence-based but grounded in the construction of a particular mythology of trafficking. The body of academic literature on trafficked children is especially limited. Trafficked children are usually subsumed under the heading, “Trafficked Women and Children”. Interestingly, women and children are lumped together in anti-trafficking legislation and discourse when in many other instances, in labour laws, for example, great care is taken to separate the two. Many writers use the word “children” or “girls” but focus on young women; research on trafficked boys is virtually non-existent. Limited knowledge impedes identification of trafficked children, obstructs provision of culturally appropriate and effective services, limits prevention of repeat victimisation, and results in few prosecutions of perpetrators. This article is informed by empirical research, supported by the US National Institute of Justice, to examine the experiences of children, mainly girls, trafficked to the United States for labour and sexual exploitation and to analyse their prospects for reintegration into the wider society. The cohort of possible study participants was relatively small—approximately 140 children placed in foster care through the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors programme administered by two national voluntary agencies: the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. But the project’s goals were lofty—to expand the knowledge-base of the special service needs of trafficked children and set forth policy and programmatic recommendations aimed at preventing child trafficking, protecting trafficked children, and prosecuting their traffickers. The year-long research project (2007–8) included face-to-face ethnographic interviews with more than thirty survivors of child trafficking for labour and sexual exploitation; a series of telephone and in-person interviews with service providers working with the survivors at various

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junctures of their journey from captivity to reintegration into US society; as well as an in-depth analysis of the case files of all child survivors served by federally funded programmes at the time of the research. I have examined the difficulties and benefits of this study elsewhere.1 Here, I want to address some of the prevailing assumptions and myths “woven from solid data, conjecture, cultural assumptions, and organizational and political agendas”2 and juxtapose them with the realities, as expressed by the survivors of child trafficking and the discoveries made by the research team.

‘Tidal Waves’ of Trafficking? A recent unpublished report prepared by Senator Tom Coburn’s office, aptly entitled “Blind Faith: How Congress Is Failing Trafficking Victims” (2011), takes issue with flawed estimates of the scope of human trafficking and the exorbitant resources spent on anti-trafficking initiatives. These criticisms are not new. Several years ago, a front-page article in the Washington Post criticised the US government’s alarming statements, based on methodologically flawed estimates, about “tidal waves” of trafficked persons entering the country.3 The same criticism about worldwide estimates promulgated by the US State Department has been expressed by UNESCO, the US Department of Justice (2005), and by the Government Accountability Office, which in a 2006 report concluded that statistics provided by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons were problematic because of “methodological weaknesses, gaps in data, and numerical discrepancies”.4 The Washington Post article was also critical of the government’s inability to identify victims. Since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through to the end of February 2012, 2,899 trafficked adults (1,801 women and 1,098 men) and 441 children (299 girls and 142 boys) have been identified and certified as eligible for federally funded services. The small number of adults and children identified so far could be as much a result of the clandestine nature of the trafficking phenomenon as of the inadequate and misplaced strategies used to identify trafficked persons. Or standard estimates—approximately fifteen thousand people trafficked into the United States annually and anywhere from eight hundred thousand to two million worldwide—might far exceed the reality and gravity of the situation which, in the absence of reliable data, take on mythical proportions. Some experts suggest that the government should broaden its strategies to include an enhanced screening of children at US borders, particularly unaccompanied children. Each year, immigration officials apprehend approximately one hundred thousand unaccompanied children at US borders. Some return voluntarily, some are returned because of bilateral agreements. Little is known about the children who return to their countries of origin. Approximately eight thousand children remain annually in the custody of the US federal government. Some nine hundred children are in custody at any given time. Experts stress that there is a good possibility that both the larger population of children returned to their homelands as well as the smaller group of children in federal custody include trafficked children.5 To date, nobody has studied any of these children. It is therefore possible that these assertions are part of the many myths surrounding human trafficking.

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junctures of their journey from captivity to reintegration into US society; as well as an in-depth analysis of the case files of all child survivors served by federally funded programmes at the time of the research. I have examined the difficulties and benefits of this study elsewhere.1 Here, I want to address some of the prevailing assumptions and myths “woven from solid data, conjecture, cultural assumptions, and organizational and political agendas”2 and juxtapose them with the realities, as expressed by the survivors of child trafficking and the discoveries made by the research team.

‘Tidal Waves’ of Trafficking? A recent unpublished report prepared by Senator Tom Coburn’s office, aptly entitled “Blind Faith: How Congress Is Failing Trafficking Victims” (2011), takes issue with flawed estimates of the scope of human trafficking and the exorbitant resources spent on anti-trafficking initiatives. These criticisms are not new. Several years ago, a front-page article in the Washington Post criticised the US government’s alarming statements, based on methodologically flawed estimates, about “tidal waves” of trafficked persons entering the country.3 The same criticism about worldwide estimates promulgated by the US State Department has been expressed by UNESCO, the US Department of Justice (2005), and by the Government Accountability Office, which in a 2006 report concluded that statistics provided by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons were problematic because of “methodological weaknesses, gaps in data, and numerical discrepancies”.4 The Washington Post article was also critical of the government’s inability to identify victims. Since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 through to the end of February 2012, 2,899 trafficked adults (1,801 women and 1,098 men) and 441 children (299 girls and 142 boys) have been identified and certified as eligible for federally funded services. The small number of adults and children identified so far could be as much a result of the clandestine nature of the trafficking phenomenon as of the inadequate and misplaced strategies used to identify trafficked persons. Or standard estimates—approximately fifteen thousand people trafficked into the United States annually and anywhere from eight hundred thousand to two million worldwide—might far exceed the reality and gravity of the situation which, in the absence of reliable data, take on mythical proportions. Some experts suggest that the government should broaden its strategies to include an enhanced screening of children at US borders, particularly unaccompanied children. Each year, immigration officials apprehend approximately one hundred thousand unaccompanied children at US borders. Some return voluntarily, some are returned because of bilateral agreements. Little is known about the children who return to their countries of origin. Approximately eight thousand children remain annually in the custody of the US federal government. Some nine hundred children are in custody at any given time. Experts stress that there is a good possibility that both the larger population of children returned to their homelands as well as the smaller group of children in federal custody include trafficked children.5 To date, nobody has studied any of these children. It is therefore possible that these assertions are part of the many myths surrounding human trafficking.

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The Diversity of Victims A comprehensive analysis of approximately 1,500 English-language publications on human trafficking indicates that most rely on overviews, commentaries, and anecdotal information, and are not grounded in empirical research with trafficked adults and children.6 Not surprisingly, trafficked persons, including children, are often depicted as a very homogenous group. Authors discuss trafficked “women and children” or “children” without any regard to age or gender differences. Sometimes even the country of origin is omitted. The trafficking narratives follow a sensationalist storyline and present readers with generalised portraits of child survivors of human trafficking without any specificity regarding the type of exploitation or the trafficking trajectory. The cohort of children we studied was fairly small—142 in all. The children hailed from several different countries. Mexico and Honduras accounted for the largest numbers of children (43 and 21, respectively). The Mexicans were almost evenly divided between unaccompanied (travelling without an adult guardian) and accompanied (travelling with an adult guardian) children. Most of the Honduran children were unaccompanied. In the group of unaccompanied children, Mexico and Honduras were followed by China, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Morocco with six, three, two and two children, respectively. Ghana, Cameroon, India, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua were sources of one trafficked child each, and Russia, Thailand, and Pakistan two children each. Fourteen of the accompanied children were from Peru and were freed as part of the same trafficking case. Three accompanied children were from Guatemala. There was one accompanied child from each of the following countries: Albania, China, Ecuador, El Salvador, Micronesia, India, and Pakistan. The children in our study ranged in age from two to seventeen years at the time of trafficking, with the vast majority (over 83 per cent) falling between fourteen and seventeen years of age when trafficked. Approximately two-thirds of all the children were sixteen to seventeen years old when trafficked. Not surprisingly, the unaccompanied children were older than those who were trafficked with family members. The mean age of the unaccompanied children was sixteen, while the mean age of the accompanied children was thirteen years. The accompanied children ranged in age from two to seventeen while the unaccompanied children ranged in age from thirteen to seventeen. Eleven of the fifteen trafficked children who were younger than thirteen years of age came from Peru. This concentration and an overall wide range of the accompanied children were largely the result of a single 2004 case that occurred in New York. The case, which involved a husband and wife’s operation to traffic Peruvians to the United States for labour, involved sixty-nine Peruvians, including fourteen children. The age difference between accompanied and unaccompanied children suggests that the risk of unaccompanied trafficking increases with age. Adolescents embark on migration journeys more frequently, but are not free from exploitation by unscrupulous traffickers: coyotes (smugglers), employers, and extended family members. Most of the children were girls (over 80 per cent), which may indicate a higher vulnerability of teenage girls to trafficking. However, this characteristic could also be an artificial result of both the victim-identification process and the service-eligibility determination.

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All of the accompanied Peruvian children were trafficked to the United States for labour exploitation. Together with their families, they were recruited to work in construction. The unaccompanied children were trafficked for labour, sexual exploitation, and domestic servitude or a combination thereof. Trafficking for sexual exploitation was the most prevalent form of abuse among the unaccompanied girls. More than 70 per cent of all the unaccompanied minors were trafficked for sexual exploitation or a combination of sexual and labour exploitation. A smaller percentage of children, 24 per cent, were trafficked solely for labour, including domestic servitude. The diversity of the children was the most striking characteristic. They hailed from four continents, represented several different ethnic and linguistic groups, and had a wide range of family backgrounds. Some were abducted by strangers, but many were brought to the United States by family members and friends. Some endured several years in the hands of their traffickers. Six of the unaccompanied girls were rescued from their trafficking situation before the exploitation actually occurred. We were hard-pressed to find two children that were very similar and would conform to the poster image of the trafficked victim. Even girls who were part of the same trafficking case appeared to be very different. Interestingly, the traffickers treated them differently as well. In one case we examined, four girls were trafficked together to work in the same bar. The girls with kinship ties to their “employers” were treated very differently from those who could not claim a blood relationship: the former could keep money they earned and send remittances home and were given prettier clothing. The diversity of this group was so great that we questioned whether it was possible to generalise or identify any recurring patterns.

Mafia or Mom-and-Pop Operations? Another myth surrounds the traffickers: trafficking in persons is often portrayed as the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise, with profits that rival the arms and illegal drugs trades. Reports repeatedly quote the figure of seven billion dollars in profit to indicate the magnitude of the phenomenon.7 Reports also talk about networks of international organised crime which are attracted to the trade in human beings because of the low risk and light criminal penalties in most countries. Different Trafficking in Persons reports produced by the US State Department reiterate this assertion, describing how traffickers face virtually no risk of prosecution because they use sophisticated modes of transportation and communication, and avoid punishment by operating in places where there is little rule of law, a lack specifically of anti-trafficking legislation, poor enforcement of such legislation, and widespread corruption. Media and international organisations also claim that trafficking in persons offers international organised crime syndicates a low-risk opportunity to make billions of dollars in profits by taking advantage of unlimited supply and unending demand for trafficked persons. Given the lack of research and statistical data, it is difficult to assess accurately the scope of organised crime’s involvement in human trafficking. The distinction between trafficking and smuggling is not always easy to make. Although many reports indicate the involvement of large criminal networks in human trafficking, family involvement should not be underestimated. These smaller operations based on kinship or friendship ties may, of course, be part of larger criminal networks. However, in our study we did not find any direct evidence of such wider connections. Most of the children we studied were trafficked to the United States by family members or

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friends. Moreover, the trafficked children did not speak of criminal networks, but rather focused on the close relationships between themselves and those who helped them cross the US border. Some were quite upset when law-enforcement personnel or service providers referred to their family members as traffickers; even the children who felt wronged by their loved ones had difficulty conceptualising their actions as criminal. Most children did not vilify their relatives. Instead, they thought the parents were helping them to get education or access to employment that would improve the family financial situation. This perception of relatives as “helpers” was often an obstacle both for prosecutors and for service providers. The children’s perception of their relatives as facilitators of a better life in the United States and the resulting conceptualisation of their trafficking experiences as “work” sometimes interfered with the gathering of information by the prosecution team. Children were reluctant to provide the police with details about their journey to the United States and to identify their relatives as perpetrators of crimes. The notion that the traffickers were “helpers” and the trafficking experience was “work” made the children’s initial adjustment to the rehabilitation services difficult as well. Several girls, particularly the older ones, thought that attending school and pursuing high-school diplomas deprived them of the ability to make money—the main reason they wanted to be in the United States. They were also reluctant to see themselves as victims. Some girls who clearly understood that their parents had wronged them were nevertheless ready to forgive and be reconciled with their families. Eva, originally from Cameroon, told us that she would very much like to go and visit her parents to tell them that she had forgiven them for sending her away. She was particularly keen “to hug” her father, who she said had not wanted her to go to the United States because he thought she was too young to be living with strangers in a different country. When asked whether she called her parents often, she admitted that it was hard to have a close relationship with people whom she barely remembered; Eva spent almost a decade in domestic servitude in the United States.

Idealising Childhood US law treats all persons trafficked prior to turning eighteen years of age as children. In reality, the concepts of “child” and “childhood” vary according to one’s personal circumstances. There are tremendous differences between a four-year-old and a seventeen-year-old. There are also often considerable differences between two seventeen-year-olds, particularly individuals coming from different cultural, social, and economic backgrounds. Gender differences need to be taken into account as well. Many of the sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds in our study considered themselves adults and had difficulty adjusting to programmes which treated them as “children” and assisted them in “reclaiming their lost childhood”. They did not want to follow rules incommensurate with their own self-image. They not only baulked at things like curfews and chores, but also often valued work more than education. In fact, some of the adolescent boys trafficked for labour exploitation wanted to continue working for the same employer. They enjoyed construction work and liked being able to send remittances home. All they hoped for was remuneration commensurate with the work they did and better working conditions: eight-hour workdays with breaks for lunch.

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Their self-image stood in sharp contrast to childhood ideals championed by the programmes serving them. They saw themselves as labour migrants, while the programmes considered them victims of trafficking. Several girls had children of their own; some were reunited with children they left at home and some gave birth while in the United States. Not all of these babies were products of rape. A couple of girls were married before they migrated. They identified themselves as mothers and wives with associated roles and responsibilities, while the social workers referred to them as “children having children”. Angie, who was smuggled by a coyote from Honduras to Texas, was pregnant with a son by a boyfriend she met while working in a bar. She spoke at length about the tensions between her and her social worker, whom she described as always “irritated and angry” and not having any understanding of Angie’s competing demands as a mother when it came to doing chores in a group home where she lived. Another Honduran girl, Elisa, was nineteen years old when we interviewed her, but entered the foster-care programme when she was fifteen. Elisa complained bitterly that her CubanAmerican foster mother treated her as if she were an eight-year-old. Elisa described her foster mother as “very old-fashioned”. Elisa added, “She thinks I am a prostitute. I am not a prostitute! I worked in a cantina and danced for men, but I am not a prostitute.” The foster mother’s perceptions of Elisa affected the way she treated her. From the beginning, the foster mother had little faith in Elisa’s ability to make good choices. She tried to prevent Elisa from making bad decisions by limiting her freedoms: not letting her go out with friends, not allowing her to watch television. When we asked Elisa’s caseworker what she thought about the foster mother’s parenting, we were told that because Elisa was trafficked when she was very young (thirteen years old), she was “not parented properly” and had to “learn limits”. “It is in her best interest to have boundaries,” said the caseworker. Elisa rebelled by skipping school frequently, missing as many as three days a week. Interestingly, phrases such as “young lady” or “young woman” were reserved for girls who “behaved” and conformed to the social workers’ image of “good children who were victimised by traffickers”. In the United States, the system of care for trafficked children and youth has been developed within a framework based on middle-class, Western ideals about childhood as a time of dependency and innocence during which children are socialised by adults and become competent social actors. Adults generally mediate economic responsibilities so that children can grow up free from the pressures of work and childcare duties. Children who are not raised in this way are considered “victims” who have had their childhoods stolen from them. This framework views concern for children as transcending political and social divides, assumes a universally applicable model of childhood development, presupposes consensus on what policies should be in place to realise the best interests of the child, presumes that trafficked children have universal needs (such as for rehabilitation), and promotes a therapeutic model of service provision. The realities experienced by the children in this study, even before their trafficking ordeals, differed from these ideals. Extreme poverty, at times compounded by family illness, drove them to migrate. Family members who facilitated their migration often presented it as an opportunity to help the child “pay back” or support parents. Although many of these children worked in their countries of origin—took care of siblings, did housework, worked on family farms, and sold

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wood or foodstuffs in the street—they seldom earned wages for their labour. Thus, a chance to work for wages was seen as an opportunity not to be missed. Middle-class Eurocentric ideals often assume that, apart from exceptional cases, children live in nuclear families, experience childhood with siblings, and have access to resources provided by both biological parents. Research contradicts this myth and documents a wide range of living arrangements experienced by children in poor countries. Indeed, most of the children in our study lived with friends or extended family prior to being trafficked or were sent to live with friends or family in the United States. Many children were raised by their grandparents; some never saw their mothers and fathers.

Agency and Vulnerability Much of the literature on women trafficked for sexual exploitation portrays them as lacking agency. As Ronald Weitzer points out, “the denial of agency” is evident in the very framing of the problem as one involving “prostituted women”, “trafficking”, and “sexual slavery”.8 Many authors deem the notion of consent irrelevant when it comes to sex trafficking. Ironically, persons trafficked for other forms of labour exploitation are regarded as smuggled on the basis that they consented to being taken across international borders; that they did not consent to severe abuse and exploitation is ignored. The issue of agency is also dismissed in relation to trafficked children. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 uses the definition of a child promulgated by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which considers every human being below the age of eighteen to be a child. The convention and the act do not distinguish between four-year-olds and seventeen–yearolds. They do, however, make a clear distinction—ideological, strategic, and operational— between children and adults: This distinction is based on the principle that the development of children as human beings is a process and is not complete as long as they are minors. Children are deemed “innocent” and in need of special protection and assistance in making decisions. It is believed that minors cannot be expected to act in their own best interest as their ability to exercise full agency is not yet entirely developed.9

Accordingly: All persons under the age of 18 constitute a homogenous category—children, devoid equally of sexual identity and sexual activity, bereft equally of the ability to exercise agency and hence in need of identical protective measures.10

The children in our study were adamant that they wanted to migrate to the United States. However, at the time of making the decision to migrate they had no idea about the abuse and exploitation they would face once they crossed the border. For the researcher, the challenge is where “to draw a line between coercion and consent for young people under the age of 18 and how best to promote their rights and agency while still protecting them”.11 Do we treat them as vulnerable victims—as does the US law that stipulates who is a victim and thus who is eligible for services? Or as survivors with a great deal of resilience on which to build the youth’s integration into the wider society?

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Understanding the children’s perception of their identity as victims plays an important role in post-trafficking adjustment. None of the children in our study was overtly happy but some did not see themselves as having been mistreated. Girls who co-operated with the perpetrators or enjoyed aspects of their experience (such as pretty clothes, freedom, boyfriends, drugs, or alcohol) were often less susceptible to trauma and more resistant to therapy. Thus, their selfidentity, understanding of their situation and subsequent goals often conflicted with the goals of service providers and law-enforcement officers. Clear identification of someone as a perpetrator correlated with more traumatic aftermaths. In situations where the perpetrator was a boyfriend or a family friend, there sometimes appeared to be a feeling of greater betrayal, resulting in a higher likelihood of a traumatic response. The situation was even more complex in cases where the traffickers were close family members. The survivors were hesitant to speak openly of the situation for fear of implicating their relatives or of reprisals against family members left behind in the country of origin. The children’s lack of identity as victims was closely related to their expectations about coming to the United States. Almost all of the children were highly motivated to migrate to the United States in the hope of earning money. Many had compelling reasons to send money home and had to repay smuggling fees. Typically, the children’s desire to earn money did not change once they were rescued. Obviously, the specialised programmes serving trafficked children reflect US laws requiring children to attend school, defining the age of employment and number of hours a minor is allowed to work, and requiring a work permit. These restrictions often ran counter to many children’s goals and led to a struggle as they were adjusting to their new lives. These issues have had long-term consequences for the children’s commitment to education and affected their desire to remain in care.

Trauma and Treatment Most programmes used the Western concept of “trauma”, both as the basis to imagine the trafficked children’s experiences and to promote a therapeutic model of rehabilitation services. A relatively small number of children in our study met the criteria of post-traumatic stress disorder. Some children presented no psychological disturbance, while others exhibited symptoms of depression. Indeed, depression was the most common diagnosis. To mitigate the psychological consequences of trafficking, children were offered a wide range of mental-health services: individual or group therapy, counselling by a torture treatment specialist, and art therapy. Initially, most of the children refused to avail themselves of psychological services but programme staff were persistent. Two girls, with suspected sexual victimisation, were referred to a bilingual counsellor; they participated in five counselling sessions, but refused to continue. Several survivors were concerned that going to therapy would stigmatise them further and label them as “crazy”. Caseworkers often commented that the “girls went into therapy kicking and screaming”, but mental-health services were considered to be in the children’s best interests. Many programmes clearly wanted all children to participate in therapy and were convinced of the efficacy of this treatment. Some followed their agency’s protocol as to the appropriate use of therapy and the children’s interest and willingness to attend sessions, but the pressure was on the children to participate in counselling. Eventually, most children were in treatment.

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With one exception, programmes did not consider indigenous healing strategies, social justice, or human rights approaches; for most programmes, cultural competence was limited to finding a Western-trained therapist who could communicate with the survivor in her native language. A group of Peruvian boys and their families who insisted on seeing a Catholic priest were the only exception; the local Hispanic congregation embraced them and provided necessary support. The push for mental-health services was consistent with strategies employed to deal with other victimised populations. The number of programmes established to provide psychological help to refugees, victims of wartime violence and, more recently, trafficked victims has grown exponentially.12 The expansion of such programmes indicates the prominence of mental-health concepts in the forced migration field. Particularly prominent is the discourse of “trauma��� as a major articulator of human suffering.13 This prominence is based on the premiss that trafficking, ethnic cleansing, war, and civil strife constitute mental-health emergencies and result in posttraumatic stress, which has in turn led to the use of treatment modalities based on the Western biomedical model. At the same time, other models, building on the survivor’s own resilience, indigenous coping strategies, and spirituality, are not being explored as much as they could be. The expansion of trauma programmes is directly related to what Arthur Kleinman and others call the “medicalization of human suffering”.14 Undeniably, most of the children in our study had suffered incredible ordeals and, without safe environments in which to recover, would have been at risk of retrafficking. Indeed, there were a couple of instances where traffickers, posing as relatives, contacted the children. Vigilance of the foster programmes’ staff protected the girls from being revictimised. The programmes’ unprecedented dedication to the protection of the children in their care was admirable. At the same time, by focusing so much on the children’s vulnerability, the programmes often lost sight of the children’s resiliency. Preoccupied with Western standards of child welfare, service providers did not have adequate resources to tap into culturally relevant healing strategies.

Concluding Thoughts When will the myths be replaced by reality? In brief, when the public discourse about child trafficking—as well as other types of trafficking—shifts away from moral debates grounded in an empirical vacuum. Research fulfils a number of roles, one of which is to offer an independent and critical assessment of current policy and practice. The list of issues that need to be explored in future studies is long, but the most important area needing urgent exploration in the United States is how the knowledge underpinning the public debate about human trafficking is generated. The US government prides itself on leading the international anti-trafficking movement and on providing policy and programmatic guidance to other governments. The data and the knowledge the government uses must therefore be systematic, reliable, and based on theoretically creative and methodologically sound empirical research. Studies of children and childhoods increasingly see children as “at once developing beings, in possession of agency, and to varying degrees vulnerable”. Developments in the field of childhood studies parallel developments in women’s studies which consider women as social

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actors and place them in theories of behaviour, culture, and society.15 Unfortunately, the discourse on child trafficking focuses mainly on the vulnerability and victimisation of trafficked children; yet, recognition of the coexistence of agency and vulnerability is particularly important in the child-trafficking field. This recognition influences the way we conduct research with trafficked children and affects our ethical responsibilities to the studied children. It is important because it affects—or should affect—institutional responses to survivors of trafficking. While there is no denying that trafficked children have often been severely abused and exploited, one must also consider issues of agency and resilience in analysing this phenomenon, designing services for trafficked minors, and creating policy responses aimed at preventing child trafficking, providing assistance to survivors, and prosecuting perpetrators.

ENDNOTES

1. ElŜbieta M. Goździak, “On Challenges, Dilemmas, and Opportunities in Studying Trafficked Children”, Anthropology Quarterly 81, no. 4 (autumn 2008), pp. 903–23; and “In the Best Interest of the Child: Perceptions, Responses, and Challenges in Providing Assistance to Trafficked Children in the United States”, in Migrant Children: At the Crossroads of Vulnerability and Resiliency, ed. Marisa O. Ensor and ElŜbieta M. Goździak (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010), pp.166–86. 2. John Frederick, “The Myth of Nepal-to-India Sex Trafficking: Its Creation, Its Maintenance, and Its Influence on Anti-Trafficking Interventions”, in Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work and Human Rights, ed. Kamala Kempadoo, Jyoti Sanghera, and Bandana Pattanaik (Boulder, Colo.: Paradigm Publishers, 2005), pp. 127–8. 3. Jerry Markon, “Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence: US Estimates Thousands of Victims, but Efforts to Find Them Fall Short”, Washington Post, 23 September 2007. 4. United States Government Accountability Office, “Human Trafficking: Better Data, Strategy, and Reporting Needed to Enhance US Anti-Trafficking Efforts Abroad”, Washington, D.C., July 2006, p. 2. 5. See Micah N. Bump and Julianne Duncan, “Conference on Identifying and Serving Child Victims of Trafficking”, International Migration 41, no. 5 (2003), pp. 201–18. 6. ElŜbieta M. Goździak and Micah N. Bump, “Data and Research on Human Trafficking: Bibliography of Research-based Literature”, report to the National Institute of Justice, Washington, D.C., 2008. 7. See, for example, Tatiana A. Denisova, “Trafficking in Women and Children for Purposes of Sexual Exploitation: The Criminological Aspect”, Trends in Organized Crime 6, no. 3/4 (2001), pp. 30–6; Jini L. Roby, “Women and Children in the Global Sex Trade: Toward More

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Effective Policy”, International Social Work 48, no. 2 (2005), pp. 136–47; Silvia Scarpa, “Child Trafficking: International Instruments to Protect the Most Vulnerable Victims”, Family Court Review 44, no. 3 (2006), pp. 429–47. 8. Ronald Weitzer, “The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking: Ideology and Institutionalization of a Moral Crusade”, Politics and Society 35, no. 3 (2007), p. 452. 9. Jyoti Sanghera, “Globalization, Labor Migration, and Human Rights: Unpacking the Trafficking Discourse”, in Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered, ed. Kempadoo, Sanghera, and Pattanaik, p. 13. 10. Ibid., p. 6. 11. Kamala Kempadoo, “Abolitionism, Criminal Justice, and Transnational Feminism: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives on Human Trafficking”, in Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered, ed. Kempadoo, Sanghera, and Pattanaik, p. xxv. 12. See Patrick Bracken, Joan E. Geller, and Derek Summerfield, “Rethinking Mental Health Work with Survivors of Wartime Violence and Refugees”, Journal of Refugee Studies 10, no. 4 (1997), pp. 431–42. 13. Derek Summerfield, “Childhood, War, Refugeedom and ‘Trauma’: Three Core Questions for Mental Health Professionals”, Transcultural Psychiatry 37, no. 3 (September 2000), pp. 417– 33. 14. Arthur Kleinman, Veena Das, and Margaret Lock, eds., Social Suffering (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997). 15. Myra Bluebond-Langner and Jill E. Korbin, “Challenges and Opportunities in the Anthropology of Childhoods: An Introduction to ‘Children, Childhoods, and Childhood Studies’”, American Anthropologist 109, no. 2 (June 2007), pp. 241–6.

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Children Trafficked to the United States: Myths and Realities