The "Deserving" undocumented? Government and community response to human trafficking as a labour phenomenon

Jill Hanley, Jacqueline Oxman-Martinez, Marie Lacroix, Sigalit Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Canadian government recently commissioned a study to document the community sector's services for human trafficking victims. What came out in the interviews was striking. Community workers and activists confirmed that the number of people fitting the exact definition of international human trafficking was small. Rather, these groups reported working with a whole range of "irregular" economic migrants who ended up in difficult, exploitative situations due to a combination of factors, including migrants' own assessment that they were better off "accepting" exploitative work in the short term in the hope of a better scenario in the future. These migrants were undocumented for many reasons or had proper status and their labour was being exploited anyway. In the absence of significant state support, community groups and activists have created a network of services in aid of victims of human trafficking as well as other irregular migrants. We will document the ways in which these grassroots actors contend with the tensions around the human trafficking definition, lending support to irregular migrants suffering labour exploitation. We will go beyond the stereotype of sex exploitation - without denying its importance - to include domestic work and other manual labour as areas of labour exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-103
Number of pages26
JournalLabour, Capital and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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