A UN report in 2000 stated that: “[it] is the non-consensual nature of trafficking that distinguishes it from other forms of migration.” In other words, each person is entitled to have a natural right to determine [for themselves] the direction of their lives without interference; individuals are not only entitled to the rewards produced by their decisions, but they are also responsible for any negative outcomes of their choices. As a result, individuals’ right to form and execute agreements without interference, supersedes any judgment of others who might disagree with the outcome of an actor’s voluntary conduct.
In contrast to the polarized opinions regarding consent as the legitimate basis for human trafficking analysis, there is almost no controversy in the case of individuals who are innocent of their own trafficking and are referred to as “deserving victims” in the sex-work realm.
As a result, these levels of consent will play a significant role when assessing each case of human trafficking.
I will use a comparative method on a range of real-life stories to demonstrate how a close reading of single events can yield a better understanding of the complex phenomenon of human trafficking.
When her husband died and left her with a small child to feed, she saw no other option but to try finding a better paying job abroad.
“A neighbor told me that there was an opportunity to work in Malaysia as a waitress,” she explained. Since she had worked in Singapore before, she thought this would be a similar, if not better, opportunity.
Contrary to the gendered approach, which underestimates the role of voluntary undertakings and characterizes consent as irrelevant, the liberal approach measures the individual’s moral culpability based on consent and his/her deliberate actions. This approach argues that the trafficking of autonomous individuals is rarely something thrust upon them by a coercive agent, but is instead a consequence of their deliberate conduct. Therefore, it creates, to some degree, moral symmetry between the consenting agents.
The consent or lack thereof, is subsequently significant as a basis for apportioning blame in the case of consent, and to weaken any claim to victim status.
Firstly, this essay will evaluate the relevance of consent and coercion on measures to distinguish trafficked victims from smuggled migrants.
The concept of agency helps to illustrate women’s capacity to make choices about their own lives.