Imaginary counter-trafficking penalties: A comparative analysis of Greece and the United Kingdom

P. S. Bouklis, Georgios Chatzopoulos


The wars on sex trafficking have traditionally focused on the proliferation of criminal sanctions, the militarization of border controls, and the criminalization and marginalization of the sex industry. In recent years, however, the human rights approach has emerged as a key component of a new reframed, holistic anti-trafficking discourse. According to this approach, human rights are shown to have significant importance for bringing together prevention, prosecution, protection of victims and partnerships to deliver gendered victim services. While valuable, our analysis draws on a comparative examination of the wars on sex trafficking to highlight the significant limitations of dominant contemporary anti-trafficking discourses and technologies. Using Greece and the United Kingdom as case studies, the present article examines the criminalization and human rights anti-trafficking components in the context of the initial “war on trafficking” and investigates the diverse articulations and crucial limitations that have created the differences of these two anti-trafficking models. We conclude by suggesting that in recent years the “war on trafficking” framework is gradually fading away. In its place the new anti-trafficking inferential schemes take the form of evidence-based, market driven products.


human trafficking; criminalization; victims; Greece; UK; war discourse

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