Look, the World is Watching How We Treat Migrants! The Making of the Anti-Trafficking Legislation during the Ma Administration

Isabelle Cheng, Lara Momesso


Employing the spiral model, this research analyses how anti-human trafficking legislation was promulgated during the Ma Ying-jeou (Ma Yingjiu) presidency. This research found that the government of Taiwan was just as accountable for the violation of migrants’ human rights as the exploitive placement agencies and abusive employers. This research argues that, given its reliance on the United States for political and security support, Taiwan has made great efforts to improve its human rights records and meet US standards for protecting human rights. The reform was a result of multilevel inputs, including US pressure and collaboration between transnational and domestic advocacy groups. A major contribution of this research is to challenge the belief that human rights protection is intrinsic to democracy. In the same light, this research also cautions against Tai-wan’s subscription to US norms since the reform was achieved at the cost of stereotyping trafficking victimhood, legitimising state surveillance, and further marginalising sex workers.

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