This thesis looks at how sex trafficking was constructed as a social problem by certain groups in the context of the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, and examines what effects the Games were perceived to have on issues related to sex trafficking. The study is conducted as a qualitative, two-phase sequential multi-method project. Using participant observation and interview data, I argue that the concerns about sex trafficking were raised to problematize the male demand for commercial sex and call for abolition of prostitution in Canada through adoption of the Nordic legal model, which criminalizes those who purchase sex and decriminalizes those who sell it. While there has been no evidence to suggest that sex trafficking was an issue during the Olympics, the raising of the related concerns had important consequences. It shifted the understanding of prostitution toward that of sex trafficking, while relying on a discourse reflective of ideological positions that see women in the sex trade as victims who need to be protected.
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Thesis advisor: Chan, Wendy
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