Across the globe each year there exist an astonishing number of humans who are forced into labor in one way or another. The numbers range from hundreds of thousands to millions upon millions, and yet each year we fail to understand the true process and implications of human trafficking. SUP authors Pardis Mahdavi and Rhacel Salazar Parreñas take us one step further toward understanding this grave phenomenon in their books, which highlight the behind-the-scenes aspect of human trafficking.
Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo by Rhacel Parreñas has yet to be published and will hit the shelves in September of this year. In the book, Parrenas attempts to unveil the true nature of trafficking in Japan by documenting her experience while working alongside Filipina migrant workers--who accounted for more that 10 percent of the total estimated trafficking victims in 2004. She addresses both the unknown and the misconceived in the world of trafficking and attempts to uncover the true motives and experiences of the workers themselves.
Like Parreñas’ forthcoming book, Pardis Mahdavi’s recent Gridlock: Labor, Migration and Human Trafficking in Dubai also addresses the misunderstandings of forced human labor and how they can lead to more harm than good for the workers involved. Gridlock illustrates the true reality and atrocity of the migrant worker’s life in Dubai with an abundance of personal narratives from the workers themselves.
Mahdavi supplements the workers' stories with exhaustive research into the Western policies for tracking and limiting human trafficking. The US creates a Trafficking in Persons Report each year, categorizing countries into 3 tiers of trafficking conditions. While some believe that the TIP Report is a political tactic for the US, masked in the rosy language of human rights, Mahdavi believes that though the Western policies may be more harmful than helpful in some cases, the TIP is a respectable and viable step to identifying and reducing human trafficking instances around the globe. You can view the TIP Report as well as the designated 3-Tier chart here.
In a recent review in Jadaliyya, the relationship between Mahdavi’s research and the TIP Report is examined and excerpts of the compelling worker narratives are explored. Through these excerpts is a glimpse into how Mahdavi highlights the fact that people enter into forced labor for any number of reasons – force, economic conditions, escape – while still focusing on the fact that Western anti-trafficking policies may serve to make circumstances worse for the trafficked persons and delving into aspects of Western trafficking policy that many may be unfamiliar with.
To learn more about SUP’s author’s insights into human trafficking, visit the Stanford University Press website for more on Pardis Mahdavi’s Gridlock here and the upcoming Illicit Flirtations by Rhacel Parreñas here.