Researcher and Expert Speaks Out Against Human Trafficking


In this one-hour talk, researcher, writer and human trafficking expert Erin Kamler discusses human trafficking and its effect on ethnic minority women in Thailand and Burma. Erin explains how ongoing armed conflict in Burma’s northernmost Kachin State has led to the migration and labor exploitation of women who are trafficked into China as “forced brides.”

Based on her extensive fieldwork in Thailand and Burma— which includes over 60 interviews with anti-trafficking NGO workers, government and UN officials, human rights advocates and trafficking survivors themselves — Erin illustrates the factors that contribute to trafficking, and how the circumstances of trafficking affect women in their everyday lives. She then discusses current trends in anti-trafficking policy, and offers recommendations for solutions that better serve the needs of women on the ground.

Erin Kamler is a writer, researcher and expert on the trafficking and migration of women in Thailand and Myanmar. Having earned her Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Erin has conducted fieldwork with anti-trafficking NGOs, members of Thai and U.S. governments, female migrant laborers and trafficking survivors and has led projects in collaboration with community-based women’s organizations, the U.S. State Department and the United Nations. Erin holds an MA in Public Diplomacy from USC’s School of International Relations, an MA in Communication Arts from USC’s Annenberg School and a BA in music composition from Sarah Lawrence College, and was a recipient of the USC Graduate School’s prestigious Research Enhancement Fellowship and Diploma In Innovation Award. Currently, Erin works as an Affiliated Researcher at Chiang Mai University, examining the trafficking of Kachin women as “forced brides” along the Burma-China border, and as an international development consultant in Yangon, Myanmar.

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Erin Kamler | Human Trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia

The trafficking of humans for purposes of sexual slavery has reached epidemic proportions. The International Organization for Migration recently estimated that 200-225,000 women and children from Southeast Asia are trafficked to other countries annually, making this region the largest source of trafficked women in the world, and in 2003 prostitution and sex trafficking comprised three percent of Thailand’s economy. While NGOs (Non Government Organizations) are actively working to combat human trafficking in this region, little research has been conducted addressing how NGO communications processes contribute to their organizational impact. Based on fieldwork in Thailand and Cambodia, Erin Kamler’s talk addresses the rhetoric used by NGOs working to combat human trafficking, and asks us to assess how this rhetoric situates these institutions in the global public sphere.

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