Ladydrawers: Thin Line Between Garment and Sex "Trades"

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:38 By Anne Elizabeth Moore, Ellen Lindner and Melissa Gira Grant, Truthout | Graphic Journalism
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2014 0407ld fbIn the latest Ladydrawers, Anne Elizabeth Moore visits an NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, aiming to help women escape the sex trade. For the next few strips, we'll look at how the expanding field of organizations intending to stop human trafficking operates.

"Our Fashion Year," our year-long investigation into gender, labor and cultural production, has so far followed the threads of the international garment trade from your local fast-fashion emporium all the way back to their source, in the factories of developing countries, in "Fast Fashion," "Let's Go Shopping" and "The Business of Thrift" (with Julia Gfrörer); "Zoned," "Red Tape" and "Outta Sight (Out of Mind)" (with Melissa Mendes); and Ellen Lindner's first strip with us, "It's the Money, Honey."

But the garment trade is so pervasive in certain regions of the world it's often one of the only options for women with families to care for - or their own rent and food to cover. That is, the only regulated option. The sex trade employs women in many of the same areas of the world, despite the concerted efforts of anti-human trafficking NGOs. With growing budgets - and often confused logic - such NGOs aim to rid the world of sexual exploitation by offering sex workers alternative skills and employment options. For workers who already left factory life, however, things seem pretty familiar.

In January, Anne Elizabeth Moore visited one such NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. For the next few strips, we'll look at how the expanding field of organizations intending to stop human trafficking operates, receives funding, and shapes our understanding of the global economy and women's roles in it. As always, our previous strips can be found here

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Anne Elizabeth Moore

Anne Elizabeth Moore is a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow, Weinberg Fellow at the Newberry Library, a Fulbright scholar, and the author of several award-winning non-fiction books including Unmarketable (The New Press, 2007) and Cambodian Grrrl (2011). Co-editor and publisher of now-defunct Punk Planet and the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin, Moore teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She contributes criticism to The New Inquiry, The Baffler, N+1p and many others and writes a monthly comic strip for Truthout called Ladydrawers on gender, labor, and culture. Her latest book from Cantankerous Titles, New Girl Law, was called “A post-empirical, proto-fourth-wave feminist memoir” by Bust Magazine.

Melissa Gira Grant

Melissa Gira Grant is a writer who tells true stories about the value of sex. She has contributed to The Nation, Wired, the Guardian, Jacobin, Reason, Glamour, Slate, Jezebel, Rhizome, AlterNet, Truthout and $pread, among others. Her first book, Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, is out now from Verso. Find out more at

Ellen Lindner

A member of Brooklyn's Hypothetical Island cartooning studio, Ellen Lindner has created stories for a wide range of anthologies, agencies and publications. Her current web series, "The Black Feather Falls," a mystery set in 1920s London, appears weekly on Act-i-Vate. The first two print collections are available now from Soaring Penguin Press. Ellen is also the editor of The Strumpet, a transatlantic collection of cartooning by ladies. For more of her work, check out or her Etsy.

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