Trafficking? Exploring the relevance of the notion of human trafficking to describe the lived experience of sex workers in Cape Town, South Africa

This article reports on the findings of a study of the sex work industry in Cape Town that was undertaken by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) between 2006 and 2008. The study employed qualitative and quantitative methods to gather data about inter alia, the size of the sex work industry in Cape Town, working conditions in the industry, recruitment practices, factors that resulted in women working in the industry, and the extent of human trafficking in the industry. This article reports on the methods used and the findings. It concludes by arguing that the concept of trafficking is not useful as it does not reflect the lived experience of the majority of sex workers, and does not take the state or society any closer to dealing with exploitation and abuse that occurs in the industry.

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Chandre Gould