Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date





Medicine and Health Sciences


Trafficking for sexual purposes is widely recognized as a violation of human rights. Trafficking of women and girls within Nepal and from Nepal to India’s red light districts is thought to be extremely common. There is sharp debate within the anti-trafficking community, both within Nepal and globally, about why trafficking occurs and how to prevent it. I argue that this disagreement is rooted in two distinct underlying frameworks employed by anti-trafficking advocates to understand trafficking, which I identify as the “Prostitution Framework” and the “Labour Exploitation Framework”. This article introduces these frameworks and investigates where the anti-trafficking community in Nepal is situated. I find that this community is primarily rooted within the Prostitution Framework, and that this position has implications for how anti-trafficking programming is conducted. Recent changes in Nepal have begun to expose some of the shortcomings of this framework, and I conclude that there are strong reasons that anti-trafficking advocates in Nepal should examine their assumptions, as perhaps programmes situated within the Labour Framework may be more appropriate. More empirical research is required in order to demonstrate whether programming informed by the Labour Exploitation Framework would be more successful at preventing trafficking and limiting the harm that women experience in the sex industry.


Copyright © 2011 Oxford University Press.The article was originally published in Refugee Survey Quarterly and can be found online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rsq/hdr007.