Human Trafficking

ISIM faculty have been researching human trafficking since the early 2000s. Dr. Elżbieta M. Goździak pioneered the Institute’s empirical research on child trafficking, including with a particular emphasis on how the intrinsic violence of trafficking into sexual exploitation, forced labor, and domestic servitude shapes the course of their development and re/integration processes. In her book, Children and Adolescents Trafficked to the United States: Reimagining Survivors (Rutgers University Press 2016), she engaged theoretical questions about children and childhoods, agency and vulnerability, and trauma and resilience. Programmatically, the book aims to reconcile the gap between the survivors’ perceptions of their needs to recover from violence and exploitation (based on indigenous notions of child and human development, coping strategies, agency, and survivorship) and the institutional responses (based on Western conceptualizations of child development, vulnerability, victimhood, and dependency on adults).

ISIM faculty have also studied trafficked adults, both women and men. Under a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Goździak studied return and reintegration of female victims trafficked for sexual exploitation and male victims trafficked into the fishing industry and other labor exploitation in Moldova, Poland, Thailand, and Nepal. Closer to home, with a grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Drs. Goździak and Lowell evaluated strategies to stabilize and integrate adult survivors of human trafficking to the United States.

ISIM’s applied research on human trafficking in Nepal and Cambodia has informed policy-making of the U.S. Department of Labor, the J/TIP in the U.S. Department of State, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as activities of philanthropic institutions such as Humanity United and the American-Himalayan Foundation.

Currently, Dr. Goździak is writing a book on Security and Human Trafficking post 9/11. This book challenges the popular rhetoric linking ‘war on terror’ with ‘war on human trafficking’ by juxtaposing lived experiences of survivors of trafficking, refugees, and labor migrants with macro level security concerns.

For further information, contact: Elżbieta M. Goździak.