Everyday experiences of ‘trafficked’ person in India: A perspective from the below


Jaffer Latief Najar

Wednesday 12 Feb 2020, 13:00 - 14:00
Spoken Language
Room 1.31
International Institute of Social Studies
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Jaffer Latief Najar
Jaffer Latief Najar

In this Migration Series Seminar, Jaffer Latief Najar will discuss everyday struggles of migrant urban migrants who are seen as ‘victims of trafficking’ in India. He will consider how they perceive and experience the current anti-trafficking practices, looking into the harms that the current anti-trafficking system in India is introducing into their lives.

He looks specifically at the experiences of migrant sex workers and construction workers in India.

The presentation will highlight the role that agency, citizenship and 'unfreedom' plays in migrants' experiences. These migrants are often seen as 'victims of trafficking' by anti-trafficking stakeholders, despite the fact that they do not see themselves in this light. This view by stakeholders causes harm to the migrants as it places them in a position of victimhood, hence denying them their agency.

The migrants use the concept of citizenship as a form of belonging to struggle against and deal with these harmful interventions by anti-trafficking stakeholders.


The dominant global discourse of human trafficking has been largely sketched as a campaign against the exploitation of human being. However, the everyday realities of those who are framed as 'trafficked victims' indicates that the voices of these migrants are made invisible, ignored or silenced. Such silencing (re)produces the harms and sufferings in their lives.

India’s anti-trafficking system is not immune to such practices and (re)production of these harms. This presentation by Jaffer Latief Nafar is based on the biographic narratives, observations and experiences of migrant sex workers and migrant construction workers in India. He has engaged with these workers as part of his ongoing research in parts of Kolkata, particularly Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red-light district.

About the speaker

Jaffer Latief Najar currently works as a researcher in the Vital Cities and Citizen Program at International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).

Before joining ISS, he led a multi-stakeholder national research team of a policy and research oriented project on human trafficking in India. This project was commissioned by the National Human Rights Commission in collaboration with UN Women, UNODC, National Commission for Women, Ministry of women and child development, Tata trusts and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

He also contributed to the initial design and process of India’s anti-trafficking bill that was passed in the lower house of the Indian Parliament. He was member of a technical advisory group studying human trafficking at the University of San Diego, USA.

Jaffer is currently a member of the Board of Directors at Future Council, a Delhi-based think tank. He is also general secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Research and Development Foundation. He has published one book and several articles. His current interest of research focuses on the politics of violence, politics of solidarity, unfreedom and development.  

More information

This event is part of the ISS Migration Seminar Series.

This seminar series is a programme of informal seminar sessions which discuss cutting-edge research on a range of issues within the broad theme of migration.

Please contact Mahardhika Sjamsoeoed Sadjad for more information.

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