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DemandAT Report Summary

Project ID: 612869
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Austria

Periodic Report Summary 2 - DEMANDAT (Addressing demand in anti-trafficking efforts and policies (DemandAT))

Project Context and Objectives:
Trafficking in human beings refers to the transfer of women, men and children into various forms exploitation. Responses to trafficking have traditionally focused on combating the criminal networks involved in it or protecting the human rights of victims. Following the legal obligations under the UN Anti-Trafficking Protocol, the Council of Europe Anti-Trafficking Convention and the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive, European countries are increasingly exploring ways in which to influence the demand for services or products involving the use of trafficked persons or for the trafficked persons themselves.

However, fifteen years after the entering into force of the UN Anti-Trafficking Protocol there is no shared understanding of demand in the context of trafficking (Cyrus & Vogel 2015). DemandAT aims to close this gap by investigating the notion of demand from a multi- and interdisciplinary perspective across a large range of fields in which trafficking occurs, involving approaches from sociology, anthropology, political science, economics, human geography and law and interdisciplinary fields such as migration, development or labour studies. In addition, the project combines a broad mapping of conceptual and theoretical issues, and evidence in specific ‘fields’ of trafficking and policies of selected countries (Phase 1 of the project) with an empirical in-depth analysis of case studies on demand-side measures in three policy areas (domestic work, prostitution, globalised production of goods), on the role of specific actors in addressing demand (law enforcement actors) and on specific instruments to steer demand (campaigns) (Phase 2 of the project). Strategically, we consider the evidence from other policy areas from which research on trafficking could learn, such as policies addressing illegal employment, policies addressing the usage illegal drugs (heroin) and policies addressing the usage of harmful, but not illegal drugs (tobacco).

The project is structured in three, interlocking, phases, representing different stages in the research process (Figure 1). Thematically, it is designed to cover a broad range of relevant topics across a large number of sectors in which THB and other forms of severe exploitation occur, operationalised through a series of small-scale studies conducted in Phase 1 of the project as well as a smaller number of in-depth case studies on selected sectors, anti-trafficking actors, and tools to address demand conducted in Phase 2. A third phase will serve to integrate the findings of the project into a coherent framework and to intensify dissemination which is informed by continuous, systematic stakeholder communication throughout the project. In terms of methods, the project combines different forms of desk research (including literature review, analysis of policy documents, and media analysis) with primary research based on a variety of methods, including qualitative fieldwork, questionnaire based data collection, and document analysis.

Project Results:

Research conducted in the first phase of the project found that demand is rarely explicitly defined. Moreover, there is no consistent use of the term: not only is ‘demand’ used in different colloquial meanings of the word, but these are often used interchangeably. An economic understanding of ‘demand’, according to which ‘demand’ refers to the willingness and ability to purchase a commodity, is one of the meanings that can be found in debates on trafficking. However, even when used in an economic sense, ‘demand’ is often not used consistently. Apart from its economic meaning, the concept of demand is also used in the sense of preferences, wants or desires, or in the quite different sense of an authoritative claim. In addition, demand is sometimes also debated in much broader terms, e.g. when individual dispositions and preferences are linked to broader societal values, attitudes or cultural practices in particular societies that would need to be addressed to “address demand”. The project recommends limiting the use of the concept of demand to the economic meaning of the term, i.e. the willingness and ability to purchase a commodity. In order to achieve consistency, the market in question always needs to be specified. The language of supply and demand should be avoided for the exercise of coercion in a relationship of subordination, inherently characterised by non-market dynamics and a command and control logic. Other factors (such as preferences, values, etc.) should be discussed as potential factors influencing demand, but not as demand per se.

Historically, demand arguments have first emerged in the context of debates on prostitution policy. Demand arguments remained closely tied to debates on prostitution until the presence, even though the Palermo Protocol, which was the first international document to introduce an explicit reference to demand in the context of trafficking, expanded its use to all forms of exploitation. The review of the use of demand-side arguments in academic and policy debates on trafficking undertaken in the first phase of the project, however, shows that there is no overarching debate on demand side aspects of trafficking (or policies against trafficking) that connects different arguments and examples from different fields. Rather, there are specific debates on specific forms of exploitation with the main focus being on two fields – sexual exploitation (including prostitution) and forced labour (including employer/worker relation and supply chain issues).

Demand has been addressed by other policy areas from which the anti-trafficking policies can learn. In the three areas researched (exploitative employment practices, tobacco and heroin usage) the focus was on two main types of demand– employer demand and consumer demand. The case study on exploitative employment practices looked at two sanction regimes that try to steer employment away from exploitative employment practices. While in both cases the use of penalties can be seen as an economic incentive for employers to comply, the research found considerable differences in relevant agencies’ enforcement strategies and related differences in key performance indicators (Kyambi 2014). The research on smoking bans indicates that a consumer behaviour change is possible. With regard to restrictive policies banning smoking in some or all public environments, partial bans helped to reduce collateral damage to non-smokers, but an absolute ban on tobacco consumption turned out to be more effective to reduce smoking rates than a partial ban. With regard to transferability of these measures to anti-trafficking policies, results indicate that restrictive legal measures may win on some dimensions and fail on others, the failure being dependent on the strength of the want – tobacco is addictive - and the possibilities to adjust or circumvent. The study on heroin consumption indicated interesting parallels to debates in regulating prostitution/sex work, as there too there are two contrasting approaches, focusing on use reduction on the one hand, and on harm reduction, on the other, with debates similarly ideologically charged. One conclusion from the research on heroine use applicable to both approaches shows that engaging with users can help develop more effective interventions.

The mapping of measures addressing demand in various national contexts revealed the variety of approaches used to steer demand – from the more traditional command and control approach to what was called ‘smart’ approaches by steering behaviour through peer-pressure, market based mechanisms or design. The mapping of policies shows that there are actually few, if any, policies specifically addressing demand in the context of trafficking. Rather, policies are usually broader, with the link to trafficking not always explicit. However, whether the measures implemented under these approaches actually succeed in preventing trafficking is both debated and not sufficiently investigated. These questions will be addressed through case studies conducted in the second phase of the project.

Potential Impact:
The research undertaken up to this point shows that current demand-related statements in anti-trafficking strategies are not entirely clear and consistent. The inconsistent use of the concept of demand reflect diverging positions of stakeholders and hinder effective communication about policy issues. Bringing clarity into what constitutes demand and the different types of demand-side measures in anti-trafficking policies allows stakeholders to communicate about demand-related questions more coherently and constructively in their search for better solutions. In this sense, the project makes a contribution towards an improved communication among relevant stakeholders. The coordinated and targeted stakeholder interaction and dissemination measures implemented along the three phases of the project allow for coherent communication about severe forms of exploitation of human beings across different sectors, disciplines and stakeholder communities.

By presenting debates and evidence from different fields, the project informs policy makers about the full range of policy options and their implications. By ‘importing’ evidence from other areas (such as the regulation of prohibited and legal drugs), and looking at all sectors in which trafficking may occur, as well as at countries with a particularly interesting regulatory approach, the project makes sure that the most effective policy solutions may not be overlooked by a premature judgement, or too narrow a focus, including those that frame trafficking as part of a wider issue. Consequently, the project results aim at informing the choice of policy options. The research on specific countries of interest in the project’s first phase has also generated relevant material for the Commission’s 2016 report on the legal measures that some Member States have taken to criminalise the use of services of victims of trafficking in human beings.

In the case studies of the second phase, in-depth comparison of cases will deliver empirical indications for the construction of better policies, taking results of the first phase into account.

By paving the path towards better policies, the project’s ultimate impact is to eliminate trafficking to the best possible extent.

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Galina Vadaska, (Programme Manager)
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Record Number: 197198 / Last updated on: 2017-04-13