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the shelter was abandoned abruptly leaving the residents without electricity or running
water, in search of a new shelter and assistance.
As one Middle Eastern women's rights activist told me in 2011 reflecting on the story
American approaches to development. As an American who had moved to the Emirates
no one thought to look for accountability, to see what she was doing, and what she was
doing was wrong. I agree with the locals who feel that the U.S. supported the wrong
woman for the job.” City of Hope, which Cheryl promoted as the “first” women's shel-
ter in the Gulf, and a leader in the “fight against trafficking” in the UAE, is a striking
example of development efforts constructed from a position of “privilege” or U.S. he-
gemonyandempire,goneterriblywrong.Localsandactivists intheUAEagreethatnot
only did Cheryl perpetuate the gendered and racialized rhetoric embedded in the “war
on trafficking,” but she actually harmed the people she purported to help.
must confront the reality that women who move across borders for employment are of-
ten underpaid compared to their male counterparts, and more likely to face abuse in mi-
gration (Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2008). Beyond the obvious gender stratification in
employment demands and compensation, is the fact that women face increased scru-
tiny in the form of policies, discourses, and development strategies that aim to “help” or
“rescue” them, highlighting the discursive, physical, and structural violence they can be
to Morocco, exemplifies these myriad challenges in a powerful way.
four children and a lot of debt,” she recalled. Because of increased scrutiny the Moroc-
can women had leveraged on migrant women, however, Suri could not migrate legally
due to the increased bureaucracy the Moroccan state had enacted. She had decided to
migrate to Dubai to work in the sex industry because she had heard through friends that
wages for Moroccan women were high in the sex industry and that she could make a
large sum of money quickly and return home. “For me, it was about making money as
fast as possible so I could get back to my kids. That was it,” she explained. But one
night, after working in Dubai only one month, not long enough to pay back the debt her
antitrafficking group enacted. She was arrested, raped, and abused in jail, before being
deported, still in high debt, and now facing exile from her family.
My research examines the production of race, ethnicity, and sexuality through deeply
flawed and highly privileged developmentalist efforts to address “human trafficking” in
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