Despite these widespread problems, some regions have been more active than others. Authorities in Far Eastern Khabarovsk have acknowledged the scale and severity of the problem since 2000, initiating antitrafficking measures such as closing down businesses that recruit women, and initiating a multi-agency working group to facilitate cooperation since 2000 (Erokhina 2005, 90—92). Other active regions include Yaroslavl (where there has been coordination between government and NGO to create a referral procedure), Karelia (with the longest EU border), and the Primorskii region (in the Far East). In the Tatar Republic, the Public Initiative Fund received support from the Tatar government, the Russian president’s administration and the chief of the Tatar Migration Inspection. In June 2004, after dozens of prosecutions using the preexisting laws, the first major prosecution under the new antitrafficking legislation took place in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok. On the whole, the most reform-oriented regions are in the Far East or northern regions, reflecting both the extent of the problem and international attention to the problem.
assessing the impact of state pressure in addition to global norms and assistance
In sum, of the three interventions, the state preemption of the trafficking issue achieved the most dramatic policy reform, but not without risking the long-term global feminist goals of transforming the sex/gender hierarchies that regulate people’s lives. As with sexual assault and domestic violence, there were global feminist norms, albeit in this case, with some serious contention between camps about the desired policy reform (i. e., whether to criminalize prostitution or not). As with domestic violence, a significant amount of funding went to activism and raising public awareness. More so than for other issues, there was significant foreign financial support for legislative reform. Distinct from intervention into the other forms of gender violence was the extent of state-on-state pressure, such as diplomatic pressure and U. S. threats of economic sanctions. According to Tiuriu – kanova, the leading Russian expert on trafficking, Russia passed an antitrafficking law “because of the support of the [U. S.] State Dept, other international organizations, the U. S. Embassy, and [the American legal advisor] Tom Firestone.”62
Together, all pressures were somewhat effective—more activism, more media coverage, new laws—but not in the ways that global feminists from either camp would have liked, as prosecution has been increased, but not protection and prevention. This omission reflects different thinking. Instead of seeing women’s rights as being violated, both Russian and American officials tend to see trafficked women as inherently vulnerable, disregarding the multiple layers of gender, globalization, and neoliberalism that have constituted the conditions that facilitate the trafficking in women. Instead of a comprehensive feminism in which critiques of the sex/gender system are institutionalized, the intervention resulted in pseudofeminism, in which, at best, there is a new responsiveness to the problems that some women face. Domestic violence policies, especially when directed as protecting mothers and families, can also be pseudofeminist, but in the new Russia, activists have managed to keep at least some of the more radical critique of sex/gender hierarchies.
This kind of intervention is not likely to meet global feminist goals in the long term. Because the interest from states was not about empowering women but about protecting borders and markets, state preemption legitimated more state coercion and reinscribed gender neotraditionalism, where men are responsible for violently protecting “their” women (even while, paradoxically, domestic violence rates remain high). Although the intervention initiated a new conversation about gender violence in Russia, feminist approaches and/or feminists are not likely to be included, not just as a result of Putin’s new politics of controlling NGOs and legal formal debate. At the March 2006 Second All-Russian NGO assembly on trafficking, there were fewer NGOs invited than at the previous one, and no real dialogue between the state officials and the NGOs. There were no new plans to expand the Russian approach, either to improve victim services, to consider reorienting the process with the victims’ needs as center, or to foster the coordination of the state with the NGOs. If anything, the women’s crisis centers were more excluded from the process, and the convener, when offered U. S. support for a second day just for the NGOs, declined.
The nationalistic reaction to the heavy-handed trafficking intervention in Russia has been expanded to other, related issues. Since 2005, the Russian government has effectively banned U. S. adoption of Russian children instead of directly addressing the concerns that had arisen about some dramatic and horrific stories of the abuse of Russian children in the United States by a few adoptive parents. (Rather than help some quarter of a million children in Russia who are potentially available for adoption, the Russian government would prefer to virtually halt any foreign adoptions.) In 2007, the Russian government decreed that only Russian citizens could sell in Russia’s 5,200 markets, where one-fifth of all trade takes place.63 Instead of addressing the corruption, crime, and coercion of these markets directly, the new policy is “farmers for the fatherland,” in which even legal immigrants cannot sell fruits and vegetables and illegal immigrants are being arrested and deported. While Russia appears to take some trafficking cases more seriously, “[w]hen French police briefly detained Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. . . on suspicion of ‘illegal trafficking of young girls,’ public officials in Moscow condemned the action as evidence of an ‘anti-Russian campaign.”^4
More so than for the other interventions, the antitrafficking intervention circumvented the domestic policy process. Instead of what Keck and Sikkink (1998) call the “boomerang pattern,” in which domestic movements frustrated by the state bypass the state by finding international allies who then bring pressure against the state, antitrafficking politics in Russia was shaped by a foreign strong state. Foreign ministries replaced human rights advocates as the international leverage; embassy staff, especially from the United States, replaced transnational feminists and human rights lawyers as the central policy entrepreneurs.
The intervention most closely resembled that of smart sanctions and suggests that smart sanctions can work in a limited way on a not-high-priority issue (for states), especially when there is a clearly articulated global norm for reform. But such sanctions work better at attaining stated policy reform than getting the reforms to penetrate deep into practice. For global feminists, this intervention is not the worst-case scenario—global feminist norms penetrated enough that the United States advocated the inclusion of local women’s groups who played an unusually prominent role in the drafting of legislation—but state preemption of issues is not likely to achieve feminist results until there are states that are truly feminist.