Exploring Vulnerability And Consent To Trafficking Related Migration: A Study Of South Asian Bar Dancers
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Lack of resources in South Asian countries compel many people to migrate to other countries, some legally, others illegally. In 2005, Over 100,000 bar dancers in Mumbai became unemployed overnight when the state government banned bar dancing under international pressure. Some of these bar dancers were forced to become prostitutes; some others migrated to other countries, including U.S., for work (Chadha, 2007). While dancing in U.S., these girls are kept under heavy security, they are not allowed to talk to the patrons, nor are they allowed to go out of their designated apartment on their own. They are sent from one city to another city, and are generally unaware of their next destination. Even though these girls have migrated with their own will, their prison like situation suggests that they can be defined as victims of human trafficking. Even though the girls actually consented, they are subject to debt-bondage, earn very little income and are denied basic liberties. This 'consensual trafficking' has not been studied by the academic community or by the policy makers. This research studies bar dancers in U.S. and explores the factors which create vulnerability in bar dancers to consent to trafficking related migration. The main research question is (1) What are the reasons that create vulnerability among certain groups of people who either get trafficked or smuggled? This research explores a pioneering field of research which is a recent phenomenon. This qualitative research is based on grounded theory involving in-depth data collection from the informants and the researcher. The data collection was based on auto-ethnographic principles, where the researcher observes and interacts with participants and creates a detailed field note that includes researchers own perceptions about participant interactions. Findings indicate that the vulnerability to trafficking within south Asia is characterized by poverty, gender bias, caste or religion by birth, lack of education and lack of awareness. Single women are more prone to trafficking as they do not have any support systems and are required to feed themselves and their children. Lack of employable skill makes it difficult for them to find employment in South Asian competitive markets. Another significant finding is that positive social networks and family support reduced the risk of trafficking among South Asian women from rural areas to urban areas in South Asia. However, lack of family support got translated in lack of community networks for some victims who then chose to use unknown migration networks. Traffickers employed migration agents at rural areas who deceived many of South Asia women and lured them as well as their families by creating false dream jobs in foreign destinations. Some women got trapped in debt trap of these agents who paid the migration cost for the victims and enslaved them after reaching the destination. This finding relates to theory of social support, social exchange and migration theory of network. Lack of employment, increasing age, debts and acculturation in Mumbai bars were the primary contributors to South Asian bar dancers' vulnerability to international trafficking. Older women and Muslim women were more prone to be trafficked to gulf countries where as Hindu girls and younger girls were trafficked to western countries. After the ban on dance bars in Mumbai the vulnerability of former bar dancers increased significantly due to reduced employment opportunities.