The movement of large numbers of people, including workers, both internally and across international borders is one of the defining characteristics of modern times. Migration and mobility, both managed and unmanaged, occurs for many purposes, including domestic, military, industrial and agricultural labour. Family reunion, conflict, environmental and geo-political changes, marriage and economic aspiration are among the many factors that drive mobility and provide the legal, illegal and quasi legal frameworks that determine many of the outcomes of mobility and migration.
Mobility linked to commercial sex has increasingly come to attention over the last decade and discussions around it are increasingly framed around the trafficking of unwilling women and young people for forced work in the sex industry. Feeding into wider debates about sex, immigration, labour rights and gender relations, female sex work itself is increasingly conflated with human trafficking while mobility of men as buyers or sellers of sex is largely excluded from the analysis.
PLRI research projects will seek to further understand and articulate the dynamics of economic migration, slavery, people smuggling, debt bondage, unregulated work in informal economies and other factors linked to mobility. We will conduct research into the roles of informal travel agents and people smugglers in processes outside formal contracts, visas and work permits that enable people to migrate, and live and work legally. By increasing accurate rather than emotive understandings of the various advantages, opportunities, risks and vulnerabilities of sex work related mobility the PLRI will elaborate and promote effective, rights-based approaches to reducing the abuses and violence associated with both human trafficking and poorly designed or executed attempts to stop it.