U.S. Ambassador Emphasizes Importance of Word Choice in Discussing Trafficking in Recent Report
Thursday, January 4, 2007 11:26 AM

A statement from Ambassador John R. Miller, of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking In Persons, released on 15 December emphasized the importance of language when describing the conditions of trafficked persons. Ambassador Miller compares examples of titles from historic slavery within the United States, such as "field hand" or "servant" to current terminology like "sex worker" or "forced laborer" used to describe victims of trafficking.  He argues that, like the historic terminology, current language hides the fact that victims of trafficking are modern day slaves. 

Ambassador Miller points to the "sex worker" and "child sex worker" as the most egregious uses of language to conceal that women and children are forced in to sexual slavery.  He notes that 89 percent of individuals in prostitution want to escape, indicating slavery, and that children are unable to consent to or decide on entering .  He recognizes that such language may be used to avoid negative connotations associated with other terms like prostitution.  He urges language that describes the actual situation that women and children are working under, rather than classify such conditions as "work," and emphasize the fact that this is actually modern day slavery.

Compiled from: Ambassador John R. Miller,   "A Statement on Human Trafficking-Related Language,"   15 December 2006.