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Nicholas D. Kristof rescues yet another wide-eyed child

June 4, 2011

Nicholas D. Kristof has been doing this for a long time.

The Kolkata police agreed to raid the brothel to free the girl, casually asking us to lead the way since we knew what Chutki looked like and where she was kept. So along with a carload of police, we drove up to the brothel and rushed inside to avoid giving the pimps time to hide Chutki or to escape. We hurtled up the stairs, brushed past the pimp and found Chutki and the three other girls in the same room. Two social workers from IJM began comforting Chutki, who police said was about 15. Then another of the girls asked if she could be rescued — but a few days later. (Source)

He has been writing for years about undercover operations, raiding various brothels in India, Nepal, snatching girls from the money-dirty, grubby hands of pimps and brothel-owners. And yet, he has nothing new to add to the conversation around anti-trafficking or even around the work that activists have been doing for decades. It is patently obnoxious that almost uniformly his work highlights international rescue teams, with little or no attention to local activists. There is also a general disregard for global discourses and debates around sex work and trafficking that is not centered around paternalistic rescuing.

He doesn’t, for instance, ever feel the need to mention that many of these “rescued” women and girls, eventually go back. Or that increased police presence makes life more dangerous for trafficked victims — and for sex workers. Yet he continues to advocate for more of these raids, for increased police pressure.

You want to know more about trafficking and sex workers movements in India and elsewhere? Read someone else.

Here’s a start.

Ain’t I a Woman?: A Global Dialogue between the Sex Worker’s Rights Movement and the Stop Violence Against Women Movement (pdf file)

Choice in the Labour Market: Sex Work as Work. There you can find a link to the first pan-india survey of sex workers, conducted very recently.

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