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cialized men as villains. She concludes that “the social invented not only its objects, but
(Agustín 2007, 107).
As I have shown, the global trafficking rhetoric which is often constructed within
a privileged EuroAmerican framework, is raced, classed, gendered, and sexualized
thereby producing (while simultaneously being produced by) outreach, policies, devel-
disconnected from the needs of migrant workers and trafficked persons, and are func-
tioning to the detriment of those in need while fueling Islamophobic rhetoric about cer-
tain countries' nefarious tendencies as hotbeds of illegal activity. As I will elaborate in
the next section, antitrafficking initiatives such as the IJM (mentioned above) and to
some extent the TIP are examples of the social operating to the detriment of migrant
workers in the UAE. In my fieldsite, it was not just trafficked women who needed to
be saved, but a “morally impaired” (read: backwards, unmodern) Muslim country that
needed to be told how to manage the large influx of migrants within its borders, reflect-
ing concerns about “good Muslims” and “bad Muslims,” a type of racializing and mor-
alizing rhetoric operating at the state level.
Trafficking and Development Gone Wrong
Throughout the 1990s, a movement had been building in the UAE to address the issue
of migrants' rights. Groups of coethnics or coworkers began coming together to lobby
the government for a reform of kefala, the sponsorship system that regulates all migrant
work in the UAE. 17 Migrants' rights groups came together pushing for more rights and
an eventual overhaul of the sponsorship system that they indicated was the root of im-
pingements upon migrants rights. The kefala system ties all migrant workers to an em-
of working in the host country entirely dependent on one individual. For women who
work as domestic workers, they are subjected to the rules outlined by kefala but enjoy
none of its protections and many workers become illegal aliens in the instance of a dis-
pute with their employer/sponsor leading them to abscond. Grass-roots efforts to modi-
fy the sponsorship system had just begun receiving government attention when the war
on trafficking took center stage. In 2005 the UAE was given a low ranking in the TIP
report. Unlike its neighbors such as Iran, the UAE was vested in its international repu-
tation, especially vis-à-vis one of its major trading partners, the United States. With the
into motion. Apart from the racialized morality inherent in the crafting of the TIP report
as discussed above, the TIP, with its focus on sex trafficking and prosecution, shifted
governmental attention away from migrants' rights (which is the heart of what traffick-
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