Issue: Sex Trafficking
What is the definition of sex trafficking?
“Sex trafficking is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery. A victim is forced, in one of a variety of ways, into a situation of dependency on their trafficker(s) and then used by said trafficker(s) to give sexual services to customers. There are three types of activities defined as sex trafficking crimes: acquisition, transportation, and exploitation; this includes child sex tourism (CST), domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) or other kinds of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and prostitution. Sex trafficking is one of the biggest criminal businesses in the world.” (Wikipedia)
Where is it most common?
“Pakistan, Thailand, China, India, and Bangladesh are in the top 10 for countries with the largest number of trafficking victims around the world. India is at the top of the list with 14 million victims, China comes in second with 3.2 million victims, and Pakistan comes in at third with 2.1 million victims. Cambodia is also a transit, source, and destination country for trafficking. 36% of trafficked victims in Asia are children, while 64% are adults.” (Wikipedia)
What is the history of human/sex trafficking?
- “In 1875, international activists joined together to form the International Abolitionist Federation (IAF).”
- In 1904, the kings and queens of Europe signed an agreement entitled, the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic. They agreed to combat the traffic of women and girls in their countries and colonies.
- “The first movement against sex trafficking was launched in England by Josephine Butler (1828-1906), with the goal of repealing the Contagious Diseases Acts (CDAs).”
- “In 1910, thirteen countries signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic. The convention stated: “Whoever, in order to gratify the passions of another person, has procured, enticed, or led away, even with her consent, a woman or girl under age, for immoral purposes, shall be punished.””
- “In 1948, the newly-formed United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which committed the countries that ratified it to respect the human rights of citizens.”
- “In 1949, saw the United Nations adopt a new international agreement on the traffic of women and girls entitled, the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.”
- ...also requires all countries that ratified the agreement to prohibit the legalization of prostitution.
- In between this time, the fight against sex trafficking died down and was almost forgotten.
- “By the mid-1980s, a second international movement against sex trafficking was underway.”
- “At about the same time, another group emerged who called themselves “sex workers.” They wanted the right to redefine voluntary prostitution as “sex work,” and they opposed being seen as victims of sex trafficking.”
- The term “Sex Trafficking” was “coined during the second wave of the women’s movement in the 1980s, when female activists started protesting the exploitation of women and girls in prostitution and pornography. Debates raged for years among feminists about “free” and “forced” prostitution, and whether or not all prostitution should be included in the definition of sex trafficking.”
- “In the summer of 1997, a case of forced labor shocked the public, along with the anti-trafficking movement. Dozens of deaf-mute Mexican men, women, and children were discovered in “virtual slavery” in Queens, New York.”
- “This case changed how people thought of “trafficking.” After this case, trafficking was no longer restricted to the “trafficking of women and girls for prostitution,” but instead expanded to include forced labor and was referred to as “trafficking in persons” or “human trafficking.””
- In the US, trafficking started to be called “modern-day slavery.”
- “In 2000, the United States passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.” (Fair Observer)
What is being done to prevent it?
“Half the Sky” (Nicholas D. Kristof) tells stories of his travels around the world empowering women and “turning their oppression into opportunity”; helping them get out of brothels and overall out of the trafficking system and then guide them to their new lives. “For us, there were three lessons in this story. The first is the rescuing girls from brothels is complicated and uncertain. Indeed, it’s sometimes impossible, and that’s why it is most productive to focus efforts on prevention and putting brothels out of business. The second lesson is to never give up. Helping people is difficult and unpredictable, and our interventions don’t always work, but successes are possible, and these victories are incredibly important. The third lesson is that even when a social problem is so vast as to be insoluble in its entirety, it’s still worth mitigating. We may not succeed in educating all the girls in poor countries or in preventing all the women from dying in childbirth, or in saving all the girls who are imprisoned in brothels.” (45)
What are the methods in which people are being trafficked?
“Most commonly, victims are promised a good job, education, or citizenship in a foreign country or offered a false marriage proposal that is turned into bondage. Many victims are sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, and significant others, whereas others are unwillingly and forcibly kidnapped by traffickers. The most common tactic of coercion used among victims is debt bondage, an illegal practice where the victim has to pledge personal services in order to repay some form of debt, such as transportation into a foreign country or living expenses.” (Neha A Deshpande & Nawal M Nour)
- Fair Observer
- Half the Sky (book and organization
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health