chapter  4
42 Pages

Sexual Restraints: The Construction of Female Sexual Subjectivities in Anti-traffi cking Discourse

In this chapter I elaborate on a concern briefl y touched upon in Chapter 3, about the ways in which female migration is overwhelmingly addressed in and through the international and national legal discourses of ‘prostitution’ and traffi cking. This discussion is written at a time when reaffi rming sexual purity, cultural cohesion, and national security are sweeping through public discourse and entering the courts and the legislative arena. The battle over the labelling of certain desires, pleasures, sexed bodies, and sexual acts as either illicit or licit has always been contentious. But it has been particularly contentious in the current moment, when sexual transgressions are being coupled with cultural othering and rendering the female

migrant subject as a threat to the very constitution of the nationstate and normative sexuality. Intersecting with emerging discourses of the religious and conservative right, as well as the focus of some feminists on issues of sexual violence rather than on sexual rights, female migrants are becoming a favourite target for majoritarian surveillance and discipline sanctioned by law. Paradoxically, the legal interventions focussed on criminality, surveillance, and border controls are producing clandestine migrant mobility regimes that facilitate the movements of sexual subjects rather than stopping traffi cking.