Westwood, Joanne Louise
A critical analysis of child trafficking literature.
This paper discusses child trafficking policy and research in the UK emphasising social constructionist perspectives which challenge practitioners and policy makers to engage with issues related to children’s rights to migrate. Humanitarian agencies and activists in the child trafficking sector frequently claim that child trafficking is a growing concern, and yet there is an overwhelming lack of research based evidence to substantiate these claims.
Significantly, child trafficking research is also often included in wider studies related to commercial sexual exploitation and immigration. There are very few primary studies with children who may have been trafficked and studies of unaccompanied and other groups of children travelling and migrating have identified very small numbers who have been trafficked. Social constructionist theory sheds some much needed light on this aspect and exposes some of the myth making in current child trafficking research. Ethnographic approaches lend insight into the complexities of children’s migrations and alert us to the contested and ambiguous nature of childhood and the context within which children make migratory decisions. Research which includes the voices of children who have migrated has the potential to inform and shape culturally attuned and child-centered policy and practice responses to cases of suspected child trafficking.
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