Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 427–441 | Cite as

Feminism and Sex Trafficking: Rethinking Some Aspects of Autonomy and Paternalism

  • Diana Tietjens MeyersEmail author


This paper argues that potential cases of oppression, such as sex trafficking, can sometimes comprise autonomous choices by the trafficked individuals. This issue still divides radical from liberal feminists, with the former wanting to ‘rescue’ the ‘victims’ and the latter insisting that there might be good reasons for ‘hiding from the rescuers.’ This article presents new arguments for the liberal approach and raises two demands: first, help organizations should be run by affected women and be open-minded about whether or not the trafficked individuals should remain in the sex industry. Second, the career choices of trafficked individuals should be expanded by the introduction of an opportunity-extending right to asylum.


Autonomy Paternalism Oppression Sex trafficking Sexism Asylum 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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