Situated Voices 24
Between Dreams and Deceits: Trafficking as a Form of Slavery in the 21st Century
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the forced migration of millions of people, particularly women and girls, has once again become a pressing issue that reignites the debate around human trafficking and the situations that cause it. In many cases, migration and exile lead to many people, particularly young people and minors, being kidnapped or disappearing involuntarily as they try to flee situations of violence and extreme poverty. Their life stories cross over in trafficking networks which take advantage of a lack of rights and protection in countries of the Global North to abuse and exploit them through this form of slavery in the 21st century.
The 2020 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, drafted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), exposes how sexual exploitation remains the main target of global traffickers (in 50% of identified cases), with women and girls representing 65% of victims and the greatest risk factors traffickers exploit related to financial needs, irregular migratory conditions, family conflicts (particularly in the case of teenagers) and emotional dependency with the trafficker as a support mechanism.
This edition of Situated Voices looks to reflect on the different problems people being trafficked face, exploring the causes and consequences and stressing the urgent need to create public policies to support and protect them.
Inmaculada Antolínez is an anthropologist and professor in the Department of Employment Law and Social Security at the University of Cádiz. An expert in issues related to human trafficking, she has participated in different research and international cooperation projects on the migration of women from Sub-Saharan Africa. This research has led her to carry out creative work with Esperanza Jorge Barbujano, for instance the ethnographic documentary Irioweniasi. El hilo de la luna (2018), the touring group exhibition Mujeres que caminan mundo en los márgenes de la vida (2021) and the illustrated book Decálogo de Huellas (2021), working as co-authors with Akhere Monday.
Margarita Escamilla has been a professor of Criminal Law since 2008 and teaches Criminal Law and Criminology at the Complutense University of Madrid. Her main line of research centres on the criminalisation of migrants and refugees, and the use of criminal and sanction law in managing human mobility. Today, she is head researcher on the project Exclusión social y sistema penal y penitenciario. Análisis y propuestas sobre tres realidades: migración y refugio, enfermedad mental y prisión, and has published numerous scientific works, technical reports and informative articles.
Patricia Fernández Vicens is a human rights advocate specialised in children, migratory issues and asylum. She works as a lawyer for the Neighbourhood Coordinator from the San Carlos Borromeo parish and La Merced Migraciones Foundation in Madrid. Furthermore, she is part of Red Solidaria de Acogida to support the rights of refugee and migrant people.
Tania García Sedano holds a PhD from Carlos III University in Madrid and is a writer, researcher and national and international advisor. A criminal law and human rights expert, she works as an alternate magistrate at Madrid’s Provincial Court and is an associate professor of Criminal Law at Carlos III University. She has also been an advisor to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on contemporary forms of slavery. She is the author of three monographs and over thirty articles related to penal issues and fundamental rights.
Helena Maleno is a human rights activist, journalist, researcher, documentary-maker and writer from Spain. A specialist in migrations and human trafficking, she founded the Caminando Fronteras collective. She has lived in Morocco since 2011, from where she denounces the human rights violations on Spain’s southern border and works to support and empower Sub-Saharan migrant communities in the migration process.