Collateral Damage: Sex Workers and the Anti-Trafficking Campaigns

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Anti-trafficking is a sacred cow, but behind this humanitarian concern is a century-old movement that historically reflects xenophobia, discrimination and prostitution abolitionism.

The extensive library project offers a historical view of U.S. 19th century anti-trafficking campaigns and a survey of contemporary trafficking portrayals in the media. The library database contains a variety of segments including 1 minute videos that students can review for classroom interaction and discussion.

The 20 minute preview offers an introduction to a longer work featuring an historical review of a 19th century anti-trafficking campaigns and demonstrates the way the historic “White Slavery” moral panic and current anti-trafficking campaigns have been largely responsible for prostitution prohibitionism, racial discrimination, and xenophobic immigration legislation.  Additional segments comprise the feature length work and library which includes portrayal of contemporary facets of the impact of anti-trafficking on sex workers, highlighting United States colonialism and domestic discrimination.

The trailer introduces a basic discussion of human rights in the context of anti-trafficking.

Short discussion videos are available now. Subscriber videos are password protected. Contact:Collateral Damage Resources and Support at (415) 857-5425 for passwords and information.

Director’s Statement:

“When I first heard about the resurgence of the white slavery/trafficking framework, I knew that I had to show how this moral panic has historically resulted in discriminatory immigration policies, increased criminalization of people of color and sex workers, and little recourse for individuals who are victims of forced labor.”

“This work is dedicated in Loving Memory to Andrew Hunter, who held my (virtual) hand through this process, encouraged me and provided an abundance of information and material.”

Project Information

Written and Directed by Carol Leigh; Narated by Cosi Fabian; Illustrations by Willem Weijters

Featuring: Dr. Laura Agustin, Mariko Passion, Dr. Nandita Sharma, Dr. Kamala Kempadoo, Marjan Wijers, Esq., Dr. Grace Chang, Lin Chew, Dr. Molly Merryman, Noy Thrupkaew, Catherine Healy, Elene Lam, Kara Gillies and more. Based on work from Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Empower Foundation, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, AIM for Human Rights, HumanRightsImpact.org, Women’s Network for Unity, Police Prostitution and Politics, Licadho, International Human Rights Law Group, Center for Health and Gender Equity, and Open Society Foundation.

Additional material from: Asian Pacific Network of $ex Workers,  Women’s Network for Unity, Melissa Ditmore, Network of Sex Work Projects, Global Survival Network, David A. Feingold (DER Productions), PJ Starr, SWOP-NYC, VICE,  and more.