The globalisation of trafficking and its impact on the South African counter-trafficking legislation

Ingrid Palmary and Thea de Gruchy (2019) The globalisation of trafficking and its impact on the South African counter-trafficking legislation. Critical Social Policy. [OPEN ACCESS]

This article was prompted by emerging and highly politicised debates in South Africa over the role of ‘foreign influence’ in policy-making. Whilst popular debates on this issue are often over simplified, it nevertheless seemed a relevant topic for migration policy-making given its cross-national focus. In this article, we therefore consider what influenced the development of South Africa’s 2013 Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act (TiP Act) as just one example of migration policy-making. Using qualitative methods, we map the influences on the South African TiP Act, and highlight how these shaped the passing of the Act, as well as the form that it took. We describe three pathways of international influence that shaped and constrained the possibilities for the Act: the global system for the governance of trafficking, the globalisation of knowledge around trafficking, and the nature of diplomatic relations. Exploring these pathways, we interrogate and unpack the idea that policy-making takes place in isolation and exclusively at a national level. Instead, this article illustrates how policy-making around issues of trafficking, and migration, takes place amidst complex and unequal global relationships.

About Thea de Gruchy

Thea de Gruchy is a doctoral research fellow and has been at the ACMS since undertaking her MA in Migration & Displacement in 2013. Her PhD is funded through a Wellcome Trust doctoral fellowship, awarded through maHp, and explores the making and effects of policy around migration and health for migrant farm workers in Vhembe District, Limpopo.

Her PhD and current research, which is supervised by Jo Vearey, funded by the Wellcome Trust and part of the Migration and Health Project (maHp) at ACMS, centres on questions of policy process and asks how policy is made and influenced in South Africa. In 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Thea worked with Ingrid Palmary to answer some of these questions and inform a conceptual framework on how policy is made in South Africa using the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2013 as a case study. Her doctoral work will be using a case study of health and occupational safety policy in the South African agricultural sector to elaborate on and develop this framework.

Thea’s MA, which was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), focused on the immigration industry and the relationship between the state, immigration intermediaries, and migrants. Part of this research explored the increasing precarity experienced by immigrants in South Africa as a result of changing and increasingly stringent immigration policy and regulations. Having received a Faculty of Humanities Ad Hoc Grant from the University of the Witwatersrand for 2016 to follow on with some of this research and as part of the Security at the Margins (SeaM) project – a collaborative project between ACMS and the Centre for African Studies at the University of Edinburgh – she continues to be interested in the relationship between policy, specifically policy framed in terms of security, and the precarity of marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Thea currently co-ordinates the PhD Work in Progress seminars that are held on a monthly basis at ACMS.