chapter  4
17 Pages

Sin, salvation, or starvation? The problematic role of religious morality in U.S. anti-sex trafficking policy


In recent years, the United States government has promoted the view that prostitution and other forms of sex work must be eliminated as “inherently harmful and dehumanizing” (US Department of State 2007: 28). This “abolitionist” agenda is incorporated in several federal laws and policies which are imposed on other nations, especially through policies and practices regarding human trafficking and HIV/AIDS. In particular, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) conflates prostitution with sex trafficking (defined in international law as requiring fraud, coercion, deceit, kidnapping, etc.),2 and so prohibits US funding to foreign organizations which have not stated in their grant applications that they do “not promote, support or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution” (US Congress 2003: Sec. 7 (2)). The Global AIDS Act also conflates prostitution with sex trafficking and contains similar “loyalty oath” or “prostitution pledge” provisions.3