Gambling their futures: the agency and livelihood strategies of victims of human trafficking in the Philippines = Apostando sus futuros: las capacidades y estrategias de subsistencia de víctimas de trata de personas en Filipinas
In this thesis I challenge the practice of imposing “victim” images to people that have endured through the crime of human trafficking. This imposition is led by the United Nations “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children” of 2000, and is followed by different governments, institutions, laws, and societies around the world. The possibility that “victims? may use the assistance of a trafficker to migrate and to obtain a job outside their hometowns is completely dismissed by depicting them as solely “victims? of the crime. By conferring those images and considering irrelevant their consent to the crime, as stated by the protocol, their agency is denied. Making use of the stories of fifteen trafficked Filipinas whom I interviewed in the field, I examine the extent to which trafficked people are fully “victims? of this crime. Instead, I suggest that they responded to different situations before and during the process of being trafficked, showing clear indications of tactic agency, and collapsing the “victim? statuses often attributed to them. Nonetheless, the experience in the field showed me that those “victims? experience a variety of desperate situations with a very limited spectrum of choices. In those moments I call them desperadas. Most of the times, after “victims? reach that point of desperation, they make use of their tactic agency to escape. This twilight zone between victimhood and agency is revealed in heterogeneous ways and experienced differently by trafficked people. Therefore, the stories of these girls counter the status quo of “victims? of trafficking, and raises the argument that human trafficking may be used as a livelihood strategy not only by its perpetrators, but also by its “victims?.
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