Feminist Review 67 (1):16-38 (2001)

Jo Doezema
University of Sussex
Trafficking in women’ has, in recent years, been the subject of intense feminist debate. This article analyses the position of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and the writings of its founder, Kathleen Barry. It suggests that CATW's construction of ‘third world prostitutes’ is part of a wider western feminist impulse to construct a damaged ‘other’ as justification for its own interventionist impulses. The central argument of this article is that the ‘injured body’ of the ‘third world trafficking victim’ in international feminist debates around trafficking in women serves as a powerful metaphor for advancing certain feminist interests, which cannot be assumed to be those of third world sex workers themselves. This argument is advanced through a comparison of Victorian feminist campaigns against prostitution in India with contemporary feminist campaigns against trafficking. The term ‘injured identity’ is drawn from Wendy Brown's States of Injury, Power and Freedom in Late Modernity. Brown argues that certain groups have configured their claims to inclusion in the liberal state in terms of ‘historical ‘injuries’. Antoinette Burton extends Brown's analysis to look at Victorian feminists’ relationship to Empire, arguing that the ‘injured identities’ of colonial ‘others’ were central to feminist efforts to mark out their own role in Empire. This paper builds on Burton's analysis, asking what role the ‘injured identities’ of third world sex workers play in the construction of certain contemporary feminist identities. The notion of ‘injured identities’ offers a provocative way to begin to examine how CATW feminists position the ‘trafficking victim’ in their discourse. If ‘injured identity’ is a constituent element of late modern subject formation, this may help explain why CATW and Barry rely so heavily on the ‘suffering’ of ‘third world trafficking victims’ in their discourses of women's subjugation. It also raises questions about the possible repressive consequences of CATW's efforts to combat ‘trafficking in women’ through ‘protective’ legislation.
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DOI 10.1080/01417780150514484
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References found in this work BETA

Toward a Feminist Theory of the State.Catharine A. Mackinnon - 1991 - Law and Philosophy 10 (4):447-452.

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Citations of this work BETA

Constructing the Subject of Prostitution: A Butlerian Reading of the Regulation of Sex Work.Anna Carline - 2011 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 24 (1):61-78.
The Semiotic Fractures of Vulnerable Bodies: Resistance to the Gendering of Legal Subjects.Nayeli Urquiza-Haas - 2017 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 30 (4):543-562.

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