Ladydrawers: Thin Line Between Garment and Sex “Trades“

2014 0407ld fbIn the latest Ladydrawers, Anne Elizabeth Moore visits an NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, aiming to help women escape the sex trade. For the next few strips, we’ll look at how the expanding field of organizations intending to stop human trafficking operates.

“Our Fashion Year,” our year-long investigation into gender, labor and cultural production, has so far followed the threads of the international garment trade from your local fast-fashion emporium all the way back to their source, in the factories of developing countries, in “Fast Fashion,” “Let’s Go Shopping” and “The Business of Thrift” (with Julia Gfrörer); “Zoned,” “Red Tape” and “Outta Sight (Out of Mind)” (with Melissa Mendes); and Ellen Lindner’s first strip with us, “It’s the Money, Honey.”

But the garment trade is so pervasive in certain regions of the world it’s often one of the only options for women with families to care for – or their own rent and food to cover. That is, the only regulated option. The sex trade employs women in many of the same areas of the world, despite the concerted efforts of anti-human trafficking NGOs. With growing budgets – and often confused logic – such NGOs aim to rid the world of sexual exploitation by offering sex workers alternative skills and employment options. For workers who already left factory life, however, things seem pretty familiar.

In January, Anne Elizabeth Moore visited one such NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. For the next few strips, we’ll look at how the expanding field of organizations intending to stop human trafficking operates, receives funding, and shapes our understanding of the global economy and women’s roles in it. As always, our previous strips can be found here.

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