Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Problems with the New Human Trafficking Intervention Courts

Aya Gruber (Colorado), Amy Cohen (Ohio State) & Kate Mogulescu (Legal Aid),  Penal Welfare and the New Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, Florida L.Rev. (forthcoming)

Abstract:     

In the fall of 2013, New York State’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, announced a “revolutionary” statewide initiative to create and implement Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs). The initiative occurred amidst a burgeoning consensus that prostitution is human trafficking and women who engage in prostitution are largely victims of exploitation and violence. Given the HTICs’ ambition to, in Lippman’s words, “eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking” and the convergent view of prostitution as trafficking, one might think that the HTICs are courts that prosecute traffickers, where victim-witnesses enjoy special protections. In fact, the HTICs are criminal diversion courts where mostly female defendants are prosecuted for prostitution offenses, but offered mandated services in lieu of criminal conviction and jail. The HTICs are thus a puzzle. Why have so many commentators heralded them as the model approach to prostitution/trafficking when they involve the arrest, prosecution, and even incarceration of prostitution defendants, who are presumed to be victims? A key piece of this puzzle is a phenomenon we call “penal welfare,” that is, a growing practice of using criminal courts to provision social services and benefits. In an era in which “mass incarceration” is a familiar term and tough-on-crime and broken windows ideologies are falling into disfavor, penal welfare enables entrenched institutions of criminal law to continue to function, despite a growing crisis in public confidence. Based on a qualitative empirical study of the HTICs, we argue that precisely because of their welfarist bent, the courts may sustain arrests and prosecutions of the presumptively victimized women they seek to protect, stunt the development of alternate forms of assistance and resources, and reinforce stigmatizing ideologies and discourses.

 

May 17, 2016 in Courts, Human trafficking | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New Books: Sex Crimes and Trafficking

Alissa Ackerman & Rich Furman, Sex Crimes: Transnational Problems and Global Perspectives (Columbia U. Press)

  • This book is the first to investigate all aspects of sexual crimes and the policy and management initiatives developed to address them from a transnational, global perspective. Introducing an array of tools for reducing the prevalence and consequences of sex crimes, this volume brings together leading scholars in criminology, criminal justice, social work, and law to discuss topics ranging from sex trafficking and sex tourism to pornography, cyberstalking, and sexual abuse in the military and the Catholic church. Case studies track the reporting of these crimes, the methods used to interview victims and perpetrators, and the policies enacted to punish those involved.                                                                                     
  • Listen to an interview with author Alissa Ackerman on the subject: http://www.againstthegrain.org/program/1191/mon-72715-sex-crimes-and-masculiniti

Alexandra Lutnick, Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (Columbia U. Press) 

  • “This book is a must for anyone interested in youth involved in the sex trades or sex-trafficking issues. The research and discussions offer a glimpse into the nuanced and complicated realities that facilitate youth involvement in sex trades. Lutnick's scholarship helps us to think beyond the victim/villain binary by exposing the various ways in which family, friends, policy, and the state are accountable to their circumstances. The book offers timely and useful strength-based strategies that also attend to issues of oppression and justice.”



February 18, 2016 in Human trafficking, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

UAE imprisoning rape victims under extramarital sex laws – investigation

From the Guardian UK: 

Hundreds of women, some of them pregnant or domestic servants who are victims of rape, are being imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates every year under laws that outlaw consensual sex outside marriage, according to a BBC Arabic investigation.

Secret footage obtained by BBC Arabic show pregnant women shackled in chains walking into a courtrooms where laws prohibiting “Zina” – or sex outside marriage – could mean sentences of months to years in prison and flogging.

“Because the UAE authorities have not clarified what they mean by indecency, the judges can use their culture and customs and Sharia ultimately to broaden out that definition and convict people for illicit sexual relations or even acts of public affection,” said Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch in London.

While both men and women could in theory be imprisoned for having sex outside marriage, the investigation – which will air at the opening of BBC Arabic festival on 31 October – found that in reality pregnancy is often used as proof of the “crime”, with domestic female migrant workers – numbering about 150,000 in the UAE – left most vulnerable.

October 28, 2015 in Courts, Human trafficking, International, Work/life, Workplace | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Punishing Young Girls for Prostitution to Protect Them

Cynthia Goode (Brooklyn), Punishment as Protection, Houston Law Review, forthcoming

Abstract:     

Each year, thousands of girls are prosecuted, and often incarcerated, for prostitution. Indeed, prostitution is the only crime for which girls are the majority of juveniles arrested. Why are girls below the age of consent victims of statutory rape when they have sex, yet become offenders if they are paid?
 
This differential treatment cannot be justified on retributive or consequential grounds, as prostituted girls inflict only self-harm, usually deemed illegitimate grounds for criminal sanctions, and punishment does not deter their conduct. Criminal sanctions are not only unjustified, but counter-productive. They result in great harms to the individual girls and have not decreased the scope of juvenile prostitution. In short, the cure is worse than the ill.
 
This Article examines the persistence of this criminalization model and argues that the protectionist rationale offered is pretextual, cover for moralism. Entering ‘the life’ at an average age of thirteen, most of these girls have experienced abuse or family trauma. They are also victims under trafficking and statutory rape laws. Nonetheless, studies report that police see only one in five as a victim. The men who purchase girls for sex are rarely prosecuted. Using a historical lens, this Article argues that this punitive paternalism is the current incarnation of a long trajectory of regulating adolescent female sexuality via criminalization.
 
This story of regulation as punishment also offers broader insights into the dynamics and dysfunctions of the criminal law. The high costs of punishment render criminal sanctions an untenable instrument for addressing self-harm or enforcing sexual norms. By punishing the victims and failing to pursue the real offenders, this institutional approach ignores, even normalizes, the commercial sexual exploitation of children. This Article concludes by considering three alternative frameworks for addressing this widespread social problem.
 

October 3, 2015 in Human trafficking | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Amnesty International Votes to Decriminalize Prostitution

Slate, Amnesty International Will Call for Decriminalizing All Prostitution

Amnesty International will support the decriminalization of all elements of prostitution—including paying for sex and facilitating sex-for-money transactions—after a vote of some 400 delegates at a meeting in Dublin, the New York Times reports:
 
The proposal about prostitution provoked an aggressive lobbying campaign by international groups opposed to sparing buyers and pimps from penalties. Competing petitions were organized by women’s groups and celebrities— including former President Jimmy Carter, who issued a letter on Monday — appealing to the group to maintain penalties for buyers and to “stay true to its mission.”

Countries including Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand already have the kind of highly tolerant policies Amnesty will now advocate for, the BBC says, while the Times notes that Sweden's and Norway's laws fall somewhere between prohibition and decriminalization; in those Scandinavian countries, prostitution itself is legal but paying for sex can be punished with "heavy fines and prison terms."

The proposed language of the new Amnesty policy cautions that sex-work practices "that involve coercion, deception, threats, or violence" should continue to be considered unacceptable before asserting that "the available evidence indicates that the criminalisation of sex work is more likely than not to reinforce discrimination against those who engage in these activities, to increase the likelihood that they will be subjected to harassment and violence, including ill-treatment at the hands of police, and to lead to the denial of due process and the exclusion from public benefits such as health services, housing, education, and immigration status."

August 13, 2015 in Human trafficking, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

$3200 for a Bride

vietnambride

 

Chinese men in rural villages are paying $3200 to families (parents, usually) to sell their daughters in rural Vietnam for marriage. 

Their marriages were arranged for cash, but some of the Vietnamese women who have found unlikely Prince Charmings in remote Chinese villages say they are living happily ever after.

 "Economically, life is better here in China," said Nguyen Thi Hang, one of around two dozen women from Vietnam who have married men in Linqi.

On the other hand, some women, finding themselves in terrible marriages, have a tough time leaving.  

August 21, 2014 in Family, Human trafficking, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Prostitution Laws: 7 voices

From the CBC (Canada)..... Among the voices, one worker with victims of human trafficking said: 

"I can't walk into a group home in Canada where [there aren't] children, and these are 14-, 15-, 16-year-old children, whom are being recruited out of there by low-level, small organized gangs and things like this. And in fact these girls are now going in using friending tactics. To go in and get their friends to help them know, 'oh, you can just make a little bit of extra money, you can do this, do that, it's not so bad,'" she said.

"I'm seeing younger and younger persons entering the sex trade."

 

July 17, 2014 in Human trafficking, Violence Against Women | Permalink | Comments (0)