Migration and Mobility

Migration and Mobility

The movement of large numbers of people, including workers, both internally and across international borders is one of the defining characteristics of modern times. Migration and mobility, both managed and unmanaged, occurs for many purposes, including domestic, military, industrial and agricultural labour. Family reunion, conflict, environmental and geo-political changes, marriage and economic aspiration are among the many factors that drive mobility and provide the legal, illegal and quasi legal frameworks that determine many of the outcomes of mobility and migration.

Mobility linked to commercial sex has increasingly come to attention over the last decade and discussions around it are increasingly framed around the trafficking of unwilling women and young people for forced work in the sex industry. Feeding into wider debates about sex, immigration, labour rights and gender relations, female sex work itself is increasingly conflated with human trafficking while mobility of men as buyers or sellers of sex is largely excluded from the analysis.

PLRI research projects will seek to further understand and articulate the dynamics of economic migration, slavery, people smuggling, debt bondage, unregulated work in informal economies and other factors linked to mobility. We will conduct research into the roles of informal travel agents and people smugglers in processes outside formal contracts, visas and work permits that enable people to migrate, and live and work legally. By increasing accurate rather than emotive understandings of the various advantages, opportunities, risks and vulnerabilities of sex work related mobility the PLRI will elaborate and promote effective, rights-based approaches to reducing the abuses and violence associated with both human trafficking and poorly designed or executed attempts to stop it.


  • Trafficking in human beings - 2011

    Chapter in Laura J. Shepherd (Ed.), Gender Matters in Global Politics: A feminist introduction to international relations (pp. 89-101) Abingdon, Oxen, U.K.: Routledge.

  • Verbal Abuse: Anti-Trafficking Rhetoric and Violence Against Women - 2011

    Sherief Gaber offers a fascinating and thorough analysis of anti-trafficking rhetoric and the ideology and actions it drives.


  • When "Help" is the Problem - 2011

    Current policies and conversations about human trafficking are having a detrimental effect on those they are designed to help. This is because there is a sharp disconnect between stereotypes and images of the typical "trafficked victim" and the reality of forced labor and migration globally. The result: a series of policies that actually operate to the detriment of migrant workers in the Middle East and worldwide.

  • “Maybe it will be better once this World Cup has passed” Research findings regarding the impact of the 2010 Soccer World Cup on Sex Work in South Africa - 2011

    International sporting events are increasing in frequency and magnitude. It is estimated that the FIFA World Cup brought close to 400 000 visitors to South Africa in 2010. Little research has been conducted into the demand and supply of paid sex during big sporting events and where the topic has been explored, the focus tends to fall on speculation around human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, rather than on adult, consensual sex work.

  • A right to be: A film about sex work in the Caribbean - 2010

    A film from the Caribbean Treatment Action Group and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition about the problems faced by sex workers in the Caribbean. There is a focus on migrant workers, HIV, abuse from the state, stigma and discrimination from the community and efforts to overcome them.

  • Assessment of the Human Rights Impact of Anti-Trafficking Policies - 2010

    This is a report of a meeting to discuss a research tool specifically designed to  assess this issue by measuring the impact of Human Rights & Trafficking  programmes and policies.

    Over the last few years the need for a human rights approach to trafficking in human beings has been increasingly recognised. Underlying this need are two concerns:

    1.The lack of protection and assistance that current policies offer to trafficked persons, despite the fact that trafficking is generally recognised as a serious violation of human rights

  • Consultation on HIV/AIDS and the 2010 World Cup - 2010

    A report by a South African NGO  that shows how wrong the predications about commercial sex in South Africa during the world Cup were. The question is will it prevent disinformation and hysteria surrounding sporting events in future.

  • Deportation and HIV Vulnerability among Clients of Female Sex Workers in Tijuana - 2010

    In many settings migrants are at disproportionately high risk of HIV. The Tijuana-San Diego border is the world’s busiest international land crossing. Deportations in San Diego County have increased by 48% since 2002; many deportees are delivered to deportation stations in Tijuana, Mexico, where associations between HIV vulnerability and deportation have been documented. Female sex workers (FSWs) and their clients are among the populations at highest risk of HIV in Tijuana.

  • Institutional Responses to Sex Trafficking in Armenia, Bosnia, and India - 2010

    In Hollow Bodies, Susan Dewey travels to Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and India to follow the trade in women’s bodies and efforts to stop it. What she finds is a counter-trafficking system at the mercy of funds from misguided international organizations and foreign governments. From counterproductive restrictions placed on NGOs by donors, to jaded employees and bribes given to prosecutors, Dewey highlights the structural flaws in place that allow, and sometimes even help, sex trafficking to continue.

  • Migration & Mobility in the Context of HIV and Sex Work - 2010

    This is a discussion paper prepared for the 1st Asia and the Pacific Regional Consultation on HIV and Sex Work, 12 – 15 October 2010 in Pattaya, Thailand. Among its recommendations are: 

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