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The Tragedy of Sex Trafficking: A Study of Vietnamese Women Trafficked into Malaysia for Sex Purposes

Shalini Nadaswaran and Carol Elizabeth Leon

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 4, December 2021


Keywords: Gendered discrimination, patriarchy, police raid, politics of the body, sex trafficking in Malaysia, trafficking of Vietnamese women, transit and destination country

Published on: 13 December 2021

Sex trafficking is an abhorrent crime in our contemporary times. Malaysia is currently both a transit and destination country, where women from different countries are trafficked in and out of Malaysia for sex purposes. This article focuses specifically on the trafficking of Vietnamese women into Malaysia. We, the researchers of this paper, interviewed a group of 10 Vietnamese women who were caught in a single police raid at an illegal ‘gambling center’ and placed in a women’s shelter in Kuala Lumpur. While this article explores the tragedy of sex trafficking and the plight of trafficked victims, it also focuses on the politics of the body of the trafficked woman, discussing how the female body has been abused and condemned through manipulation and oppression. This article also reveals how systems of oppression, namely patriarchal cultural practices and gendered discrimination, have helped form a prejudice and suppression of Vietnamese women. Ketu Katrak and Elleke Boehmer’s discussions on the politics of the female body construct the basis of this article’s theoretical framework. At the same time, the literary approach of ‘lived narratives’ offers a unique blend of multiple disciplines of study, including literature, sociology, gender, and politics, to discuss sex trafficking in Malaysia. Overall, this article provides a glimpse into the complex dynamics of sex trafficking in Malaysia.

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