The ‘Myth’ of Trafficking

Nathalie Rothschild in Sp!ked:

Laura María Agustín’s provocative new book, Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry, really does what it says on the back cover: ‘[It] explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims, and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest.’

Agustín warns that ‘what we say about any given subject is always constructed, and there are only partial truths’. But you can disregard the book’s many postmodern caveats: this is an honest, complex and certainly convincing read. Agustín knows what she’s talking about – she has researched and worked with people who sell sex for over 10 years, including in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is precisely the fact that Agustín has complicated the ‘discourse’ around trafficking, migration and sex work that seems to get the backs up of those who volunteer and are employed in what she terms the ‘rescue industry’.

‘I’m considered the devil by people in the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women’ (an international NGO), she tells me. ‘They have actually called me a pimp and have said that I associate with traffickers and that I’m in the pay of the sex industry, and any number of vile things.’