Tourism and sexual violence and exploitation in Jamaica: contesting the ‘trafficking and modern slavery’ frame
The US TIP Report frames Jamaica as having a problem with ‘human trafficking’ and ‘child sex tourism’. This paper presents preliminary findings from our mixed methods research on Jamaicans’ experience of working in the sex trade and in the formal and informal tourism economy. In brief, though our sex worker research participants routinely face violence in the course of their work, they were not driven into sex work and are not prevented from exiting it by ‘human traffickers’, but rather by economic need and, in the case of male and trans sex workers, by anti-gay prejudice. Our participants view the criminalisation of sex work and of homosexuality as far more urgent and significant threats to their safety and well-being than ‘human trafficking’. Criminalisation and marginalisation were also pressing concerns for our non-sex-worker interviewees, and the paper uses these data to critically interrogate the lines that are drawn between work, slavery, and freedom in this dominant, Global North discourse.
We are indebted to the British Academy for funding the project on which this article is based (‘Revisiting child sex tourism, rethinking business responses’, Award Ref: TS170020), and to our research partners, the Sex Work Alliance of Jamaica. We would also like to thank Cecily Jones for jointly conducting six interviews, and transcribing two of them. Julia O’Connell Davidson is also grateful to participants at the ESRC GCRF funded workshop ‘Migration, Exploitation, Gender, Race, and Violence: Beyond Anti-Trafficking in the Americas’in Mexico City 2018 (Award Ref: ES/P006906/1), who helped her think through the relationship between violence and harassment in mainstream workplace and sex work
CitationJournal of the British Academy Volume 7 supplementary issue 1 (Tackling Modern Slavery: Problems and Possibilities). 26 (pp. 191-216)
- VoR (Version of Record)