northern Colorado human trafficking symposium website

“Sex Work” and “Sex Trafficking”: The Significance of Framing in Anti-Trafficking Teaching, Research, and Advocacy

Scholars and professionals working in the anti-trafficking arena know that human trafficking has a precise legal definition that includes force, fraud, coercion, or commercial sexual exploitation of a minor. In advocacy and academic work, however, there is a lack of consensus regarding how terms like “sex trafficking” and “sex work” should be used. Some advocacy groups contend that all sex work is inherently exploitative and thus refer to nearly all types of commercial sex as “sex trafficking.” Conversely, many academics suggest that “sex work is work,” and refer to many types of commercial sex as “sex work” in an effort to convey value on the individuals implicated. The terminology that stakeholders employ has implications for teaching, research, and public policy. In this session, Professor Anderson will examine anti-trafficking framing from a rhetorical perspective, considering the implications of employing particular terms in classroom, research, and public policy contexts.