The Limits of Reform
The success of passing antitrafficking legislation, the only major national legislative reform on gender violence since Soviet collapse, was marred by the fact that so much of what global feminists regarded as good practices was not included in the final legislation. There were no national commitments to prevention or social services for deported victims, not even a mandate for federally funded safe houses. Even the victim/witness protection law, which includes some services, such as relocation, housing, and employment assistance, includes no specialized services for trafficking victims who may require additional support (Duban 2006, 47). There was no national plan of action. The question of consent, as laid out in the U. N. protocol, was also not sufficiently addressed, allowing the victim’s consent to any part of the process of recruitment, border crossing, or work to become grounds for refusal to initiate a case (Tiuriukanova 2006, 19). The antiprostitution feminist wish for those who frequent prostitutes to be criminalized was also not included. Finally, there are also procedural problems, such as inappropriate use of civil law terminology, the requirement of specific intent, and the vagueness in the concept of exploitation (Tiuriukanova 2006). The director of the Moscow crisis center Syostri warned that the situation was actually worse than before because of the punitive nature of the law, leaving trafficked women even more likely to be arrested and prosecuted.39
The blame for these limitations must rest mostly on the shoulders of Putin and his supporters who refused the model legislation proposed by the working group, but the type of U. S. intervention may have exacerbated the problem, perhaps unintentionally pushing the legislation toward prosecution over prevention of trafficking and protection of deported women. Although those involved with the U. S. intervention advocated the inclusion in the Russian legislation of social services for deported victims of trafficking, it was their framing of trafficking as part of organized crime and international terrorism that resonated with the Russian administration. The U. S. pseudofeminist preemption of the issue, rather than including feminists in the intervention, meant that the key entrepreneurs were not feminists.40 Clearly concerned about the impact of trafficking on women, they did not have transformative global feminist goals, nor did they think in terms of creating structures to respect women’s agency. With the U. S. preempting the issue, even if human rights advocates had decided to monitor, blame, and shame, their normative power would have been dwarfed by the United States’ efforts.
raising some awareness, but of what?
Did all this attention from foreign actors, Russian civil society, and Russian policymakers change the public awareness of trafficking in women? More so than for sexual assault and domestic violence, there is a second-level question: did foreign intervention contribute to feminist awareness, or did the multiple, foreign- influenced viewpoints on trafficking in women lead to shifts, but not necessarily in ways intended by (either of) the global feminist camps? Did the heavy foreign involvement promote nationalistic backlash?