Women and the Arts of Smuggling


Niger-Thomas, Margaret. 2001. “Women and the Arts of Smuggling.” African Studies Review 44 (2): 43-70.

Author: Margaret Niger-Thomas


This article focuses on the activities of women smugglers in Cameroon in the 1990s, the period during which the national currency was devalued. Despite the generally negative connotations of smuggling, it argues that this unorthodox form of trade has had certain positive effects on the lives of individual female entrepreneurs, if not on Cameroonian society in general. Usually marginalized economically, women in Cameroon-including, in many cases, former prostitutes-are able through smuggling to support themselves and their children, make up the deficit in the household budget, and attain a respected status in society. Through their contacts with beach worker assistants and government officials, they also have contributed, for better or worse, to the blurring of lines in Cameroon between the formal and informal economy.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Trafficking Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Cameroon

Year: 2001

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