Trafficking in Women
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Trafficking in women is clearly a both a human rights and a development issue. Apart from the human, social and economic costs of the sex industry, the spread of venereal diseases and HIV/AIDS, prostitution deprives women of the opportunity to pursue education and to achieve their full potential. Therefore it deprives the nation of vital human resources for development. This should be a particular concern in a country such as Thailand, (with an adult population with comparatively low levels of education but a rapidly increasing demand for an educated and skilled labor force) but also plagues countries such as the United States.
Trafficking in women is a repulsive and increasingly worrying phenomenon. It is a true development issue, rather than of a sporadic nature affecting a few individuals, in that it has extensive implications on the social, economic and organizational fabric of our societies. The occurrence of trafficking is facilitated by globalization and by modern technologies and circumstances. Trafficking in women not only involves sexual exploitation, but also labor exploitation in conditions similar to slavery. The victims are subjected to violence, rape, battery and extreme cruelty as well as other types of pressure and coercion. Nations across the globe are much affected by these plagues to society.
Economically speaking, trafficking or prostitution has often been seen as a development problem from the supply side. That is, it is argued that young women and girls are forced (or pressured) into the sex industry by poverty and a lack of alternative employment and income-earning opportunities.
Common excuses include:
“My child is ill and I had to earn money for medical surgery, my parents are retired and have no money to help us.”
“Had no living space and had quarrels with relatives.”
“Absence of financial means and bad relations with brothers (parents are deceased).”
Increasingly, prostitution and trafficking are also being seen as a development issue from the demand side. The demand for the services of prostitutes and for women to be trafficked, both within areas such as Thailand and into developed countries, is clearly a function of development. Concentrations of single men, such as those in the military seeking out sexual contact, maintain the need for sex trade. It is a function of both the level of development, which creates both supply and demand (see Why Trafficking), and the nature of that development:
Development projects in comparatively undeveloped regions and countries often bring with them a rapid increase in the demand for commercial sex due to the sharp increase in the numbers of unaccompanied male workers in areas where there are few outlets for recreation and entertainment.
Patterns of development that depend heavily on temporary migrant workers, particularly male workers, are likely to be associated with a sharp increase in the demand for commercial sex.
Marked differences in income levels within the region contribute to a strong demand for women and children to be trafficked from low income countries to high income countries where the income to be gained from prostitution by the procurers are many times greater than in the country of origin.
The increasing ease and frequency of international travel, together with the growing phenomenon of temporary migration for work, has increased the opportunities for trafficking.
The growth of transnational crime involved in a variety of forms of trafficking, including of drugs, has led to the expansion of these networks into trafficking for the purpose of prostitution and other forms of exploitation.
See Appendix A for supplemental discussion on Development.
Recent Trends in Trafficking in Women
The traditional flow between certain developing countries (Northern and Central Africa, Latin America, Asia) and Western destination countries continues. However, the most striking factor, which gives rise to great concern, is the increase in the numbers of women and children trafficked into the European Union (EU) from Central and Eastern European countries. The worsening of the economic situation in these countries has had a direct effect on the flow of trafficking in women. Estimates of up to 120,000 women and children being trafficked into Western Europe each year have been made. The majority of these countries have according to their own law enforcement officials become, to various degrees, both countries of origin, transit as well as countries of destination. Many women originating from the Newly Independent States are being trafficked via the candidate countries before ending up in EU Member States. The phenomenon of re-trafficking within the EU has also been noted as one new and developing factor.
All EU Member States are, to a greater or lesser extent, affected by trafficking in women. (See The European Phenomenon for more details) More specifically, trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation has increased in recent years in parallel to the development of the sex industry. Although certain figures have been collected by police and non-governmental organizations or NGOs as well as international organizations, it is difficult to gather reliable overall figures.
Industrialization and Globalization of Sex trade
Today, not only is it possible to talk of prostitution as constituting the sex industry, rather, the only way its complexity can be grasped is by examining it as one huge and contiguous structure with its tentacles spread in different regions, globally. The industrialization of sex trade, and indeed, the globalization of it is one crucial factor which makes contemporary prostitution different. Reams of data flowing in from various sites in the world, attests to the fact that not only is the sex trade a trans-national industry but among the most profitable industrial enterprises globally today, prostitution occupies the place of pride. And, similar to most lucratively expanding industries in the area of global capitalism presently, the sex industry is one of the most diversified, sophisticated and specialized.
It offers a vast array of services, caters to a spectacular range of customer demands, offers specialized venues for sex entertainment in different countries of the world, caters to every need in terms of price range in the consumer market, and has designed a mind-boggling repertoire of market strategies to attract prospective clientele. And hence, savvy and skillful prostitutes massage male egos