While many Western governments had concerned themselves with the issue of trafficking, including initiatives in Eastern Europe and Eurasia by the European Union and Nordic Council of Ministers, the United States took the boldest stand with the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act and its reauthorizations in 2003 and 2005. As with the U. N. protocol, the legislation reflects a compromise between the two global feminist approaches to trafficking as well as nonfeminist concerns. The particular U. S. flavor was interest from evangelical Christians, for whom “[t]he archetypal case—a young girl, tricked into leaving her impover­ished homeland by the promise of a respectable job, then brutally held captive, raped, and forced into prostitution—strikes deep moral chords.”6 Following the election of George Bush in 2000, these antiprostitution interests were promoted while other feminist voices were banned by the 2003 State Department memo— the antiprostitution pledge discussed in chapter 3—prohibiting working with or­ganizations promoting the legalization of prostitution.7

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, antitrafficking efforts also became part of the “war on terrorism”; for the neoconservatives in the Bush administration, combating terrorism required combating international crime, under which trafficking in persons was subsumed. The “evangelical-feminist alli­ance” that created the law was usurped by the new U. S. administration’s concern with insecurity. Without any feminists included in constructing the intervention, the U. S. evangelical viewpoint added, more explicitly than the intergovernmental approaches, the requirement that the trafficked women be a good victim, “inno­cent” and “deserving,” that is, fitting into the mold of acceptable female behav­ior and acceptable female sexuality. There is no one to demand that the United States consider a more “woman-centered” approach, perhaps modeled on success­ful feminist anti-woman battery and anti-rape initiatives (see Goodey 2004, 42). This has led to an intervention that is, at best, a pseudofeminist policy, that is, a concerted response to problems women tend to face couched in language that appears feminist, but with no opposition to the sex/gender hierarchy. “[I]nter – national attention [even] on sex trafficking has. . . become distanced from the underlying global problem of violence against women” (35).

The most distinct element of the U. S. legislation was that it came with en­forcement mechanisms against other countries. A special task force, what be­came the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Per­sons (G/TIP), was established to produce annual reports on trafficking. These Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports were then used to place various countries in tiers based on their responsiveness to trafficking. Those countries not meeting minimum standards, nor making any significant efforts, would then be subject to the termination of non-humanitarian and non-trade-related foreign assistance, not just from the United States, but from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the leading international lending institutions, upon which the United States has great impact. The president could even freeze assets located in the United States under the International Economic Powers Act (Mertus 2004, 174). For the first time on behalf of women, the United States explicitly legislated itself as the global policeman, threatening economic sanctions for noncompliance with U. S. legislation. This new kind of state power was combined with positive incentives, more than $300 million for antitrafficking efforts, including funding for NGOs, training for journalists, and U. S. embassy-led efforts to reform other countries’ legislation.8

The first set of annual rankings began the process with some considerable methodological flaws, such as concentrating almost solely on sex trafficking, in­cluding no statistical data, and taking a country’s promises of victims’ services and legislation as good without considering their content, implementation, or ef­fectiveness (Mertus 2004, 174). Not surprisingly, the United States also appeared to bias its assessments to reflect national interests, such as promoting to a higher tier those countries that became allies in the war on terror (e. g., Pakistan in 2002). In response to these problems, U. S. human rights organizations, especially the Women’s Rights Project of Human Rights Watch, took the State Department to task in 2002, and in the 2004 report many of these methodological problems had been improved. A new tier was created (the Tier 2 Watch List) that put some of these allies on notice for their lack of antitrafficking practices. For Julie Mer­tus (2004), critical of many of the U. S. human rights standards used abroad, the U. S. TIP reports proved a place where human rights advocates had been remark­ably successful. On the 2007 report, countries such as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria, which the Bush administration classifies as enemies, were placed in the lowest tier. However, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were also on that list.

Overall, intervention on the issue of trafficking combined the assistance plus blame and shame politics elaborated in chapter 5 with the more coercive inter­ventionist politics of state threats of economic sanctions. There are global norms available for feminist and nonfeminist entrepreneurs, transnational feminist net­works, and local activists, who may use them to localize activism and to blame and shame governments. Donors, including states directly (not just through their development agencies), may bring assistance that can foster increased public awareness through funding of public awareness campaigns and reform of policy and practice through training. Finally, because there are so many other interests and approaches to the issue of trafficking, the United States can choose to exer­cise its new sanctioning option against other countries, or activists may try to re­cruit the U. S. into their own struggles. Together, this suggests the following in­tervention model:

TABLE 6.1. State Pressure (in Addition to Global Norms and Assistance)



foreign agents

global norms






feminist and nonfeminist (NGO and state) entrepreneurs, transnational feminist networks

global norms as modeling and certifying activism, activists appropriating and translating

financial support for activism and awareness campaigns

only anti­prostitution initiatives get U. S. funding





foreign ministers, especially U. S. embassy staff, law enforcement



law enforcement training, lobbying parliamentarians

U. S. threats of economic sanctions



As with the other interventions, threats of economic sanctions are not a guar­anteed slam dunk. The use of sanctions—which can vary from boycotting events such as the Olympics to withholding diplomatic recognition or limiting diplo­matic visits to imposing bans on trade or aid—to compel another state is a rela­tively recent, but increasingly common, strategy. Often justified as a more hu­mane approach than military intervention, since Soviet collapse they also have become seen as a strategy to corral human rights violators and more often are used unilaterally by the United States (Colonomos 2004). Yet, analyses of the ef­fectiveness of sanctions or the threats of sanctions suggest that they fail more of­ten than they succeed, most likely by a large margin (e. g., Pape 1997). They can have the effect of rallying people in the target country against the coercer, a na­tionalist backlash that leaves people and their government willing to endure con­siderable pressure (107). In other cases, such as the 1990s sanctions against Iraq, elites can also protect themselves from the consequences of the sanctions, shifting the burden onto the less politically powerful and/or more economically disadvan­taged. This reality, in turn, raises humanitarian concerns about sanctions as the population can be seen as indirectly suffering as a result of sanctions (Colonomos 2004). More so than with the other interventions, sanctions can be seen as unfair (or imperialistic) because they are imposed by more powerful countries against the weaker (Davis and Engerman 2003). These critiques have led to “smart sanc­tions,” attempts to constrain the costs to the population, such as the U. S. threats to end only non-humanitarian assistance for countries not adopting the mini­mum antitrafficking initiatives. This chapter assesses whether smart sanctions— or even just the threat of sanctions—can achieve global feminist goals on this is­sue of not particularly high importance to Russia.

appropriating divisive norms