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Victims or Criminals; Female Traffickers

Updated: Mar 9

#humantrafficking #modernslavery #femaletraffickers #endhumantrafficking #sextrafficking #savethechildren

Today, I would like to continue the topic of the victim/offender dichotomy about female traffickers. The last time I pointed out the lack of sensitivity of the criminal justice system to this dichotomy. Also, I gave the example of double victimisation. Thus, let us continue and dwell deeper into the issue.

Villacampa & Torres (2014) similarly to Broad address the issue of double victimisation. However, they approach more aspects of the trafficking. Still, Villacampa, Torres and Broad emphasise the lack of criminal justice awareness of victim/offender dichotomy and the need to approach the problem of THB from the 'old' and 'new' penology perspectives. The lack of questioning about the personal background and situation of arrested women, ignoring their narratives about their deception by traffickers, is rooted in the attitude that a crime is a crime and should be punished. The criminal justice system is strictly crime-focused and does not recognise the victim/offender dichotomy. The result is the confinement of victims of trafficking along with the deprivation of exercising their rights as victims, which is institutional victimisation. This victim/offender ambiguity results in double victimisation. The reason for this is a lack of training that enables investigators to consider and ask about the personal situation of suspects. Specialists should be assigned to provide training to the criminal justice system that will help to identify and protect victims of human trafficking. The standards of practice must be at the same level all over the globe. Some illegal activities that result from previous victimisation should be recognised and addressed appropriately.

Sex trafficking

The other significant factor is that this double victimisation is nothing new. For instance, during the 1970s in America, New York, Time Square was a cradle of every possible type of sex industry, such as peepshows, theatres and more. Girls as young as 12 years old were trafficked. The average life span of a victim of trafficking is seven years. Imagine a 12-year-old girl, a child that is forced to work as a prostitute on the street. Awful.

Moreover, the business was run by an organised crime, by men, porn producers, pimps, and the clients were men, but who was arrested? Of course, women were arrested. Thus this example shows double victimisation or even triple victimisation. Firstly, women were abused by pimps etc., then by their clients and then by authorities. They were marginalised and disregarded by everybody, including the law and police services. Traffickers and many men see women as a commodity. Still, there are exceptions, and of course, there are women who are the minds of organised crimes. Therefore, distinguishing between a real victim and an actual offender is essential. Still, the role of the power relation between female victims and male co-defendants in sexual exploitation is firmly rooted in gender stereotyping, and this should be acknowledged. Women are seen as passive, domestic, and maternal (Heidenshon & Silversti, 2012), and this is consistent with seeing women as innocent, naïve, and vulnerable victims in the context of trafficking offences. Yet, double victimisation still exists, and the actual criminals avoid punishment.

Hegemonic Musculinities

Moreover, hegemonic masculinities come to my mind when we talk about men. Hegemonic masculinities refer to features such as toughness, power, authority, and competition. Heidenshon & Silverstein (2012) features them, also with patriarchy, domination, oppression, and exploitation by which men gain the upper hand over females. Factually, these gender characteristics are consistent with the schema of THB, and these characteristics should be considered while dealing with the victim/offender dichotomy. Still, there is a lack of comprehension about vile and violent female traffickers, but women can adopt masculinity, which is not exclusively assigned to men and males' bodies. (Heidenshon & Silversti, 2012). Although still submissive to male traffickers, they can exercise their power over other women, at least to some extent. When you look at THB and consider the circumstances, such as economic and global inequality, along with the process of victimisation, you can get some insight into the psychological processes that shape the behaviours of victims/offenders.

Although significant progress has been made in making victims' centred policies at the international dimension, there is still a gap between the written law and executing the law in practice. THB is a cruel, evil, complex, and well-organised crime at the global level. Victims of trafficking are, in fact, contemporary enslaved people. The criminal justice system often fails to identify who is the victim and who is the offender; there are complex and sometimes dubious situations regarding offenders who previously were victimised. Still, to avoid double victimisation, those in charge must administer the law appropriately. Agents for the criminal justice system must receive adequate training to recognise suspects' situations and motivations to deal with victim/offender dichotomy accurately and effectively. Thus, sound policies, training and practices that protect susceptible individuals from exploitation and misconduct must be applied.

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