1st Edition

Sex Trafficking in South Asia
Telling Maya's Story

ISBN 9780415500074
Published March 12, 2012 by Routledge
208 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

USD $62.95

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Book Description

This book is a critical feminist analysis of sex trafficking. Arguing that trafficking in girls and women is a product of the social construction of gender and other dimensions of power and status within a particular culture and at a particular historical moment, this book offers the necessary locally grounded analysis.

Focusing on the case of Nepal, from where 5,000 to 7,000 thousands of Nepali girls and women are trafficked each year primarily to India, Mary Crawford assesses how the social construction of trafficking - the concept and its representation in discourse - are influenced by the dynamics of gender, caste, and the development establishment. The defining figure is an innocent, naïve young girl being lured or duped into leaving the safety of her village. The trafficking victim is portrayed as "backward"; however, she is "backward" in specific ways that resonate with Nepal’s struggle to resist and yet encompass Western influence. This view may lead to paradoxical effects in which efforts to protect girls and women instead restrict their human rights. Rather than seeing women as universalized victims, Crawford assesses how the social construction of trafficking in a particular society affects girls and women who live in that society.

In this book, the author’s voice as a woman, a feminist, and a social scientist immersed in a "foreign" way of life, illuminates aspects of this process and highlights the subjectivity of urban women. It makes the connection between Nepali subjectivities and a problem of international significance, the trafficking of girls and women. The book provides a model for other locally grounded accounts of sex trafficking to counter the universalizing rhetoric of the mass media and some anti-trafficking activists, filling a niche in South Asian Studies and Women’s Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Sex Trafficking: The Global and the Local  2. Shangri-La Revisited  3. Nine to Five  4. Nepali Perspectives on Sex Trafficking: The View from Within  5. Telling Maya’s Story: Shaping the Discourse of Sex Trafficking  6. Interventions  7. Strategies for Change 

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Mary Crawford is Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of more than 50 research articles and ten books including Talking Difference, Innovative Methods for Feminist Psychological Research, and Transformations: Women, Gender, and Psychology.


"I found Crawford's study impressive. She does a beautiful job of acknowledging sex trafficking as a global issue but noting that the ways in which it functions and the factors which enable it are situated in local contexts [...] One of the things I find most remarkable about this book is the careful and nuanced way Crawford outlines the multiple contexts/factors that impact sex trafficking in Nepal [...] This book is valuable for multiple audiences; it will be useful for researchers, would be effective in a classroom setting, and is written in a way that makes it relevant and accessible for the general public." - Donna Bickford, The Carolina Women's Center Blog, September 2010