Between the Structure and the Agent:
Abstract: A contentious debate has been under way for decades over whether prostitution is inherently harmful to women, or a job that can be freely chosen. This debate has become particularly heated around one subject: human trafficking for sexual purposes. In recent decades human trafficking has manifested in many forms and affected countless victims. There has also been a rise in films and other media devoted to human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, some of which have been the subject of academic analysis. This study seeks to shed light on this debate and the related discourses, and contribute to this growing field of scholarship. Two documentaries about women who have either been smuggled voluntarily or trafficked from Nigeria to different parts of Europe are analyzed. A narrative analysis is applied to gain insights into how these women perceive and integrate the, sometimes traumatic, experiences they have had. The study concludes that structure seems to dominate or negate agency in these cases, and that the distinctions of voluntary and forced prostitution can obscure a complex reality, which can further marginalize victims of exploitation.
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