Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /afs/ir.stanford.edu/group/womenscourage/cgi-bin/blogs/wpmu-settings.php on line 45
Poverty and Sex Trafficking » Sex Trafficking and Prostitution

Posts Tagged ‘Poverty and Sex Trafficking’

Connections to Poverty

October 24th, 2008

The sex trafficking industry is a big one (duh). About 27 million people worldwide are currently living in conditions of slavery (ie are victims of trafficking). The industry brings in annual profits of $31 billion (as opposed to revenues). It’s the third largest illicit economy in the world, after drugs and arms smuggling. And it’s on the rise. It’s a very rapidly growing industry.

It’s also quite complicated. It’s different in every locale, but it involves a diversity of people: endhumantraffickingnow.com, a group that brings businesses together to fight human trafficking, lists the following players in the industry: investors, recruiters, transporters, corrupt government officials, informers, support personnel, debt collectors, and money launderers.

I wanted to focus today on one of the root issues: poverty. In SE Asia, the most vulnerable women come from the hill tribes. They might not be documented, and governments have little incentive to look after their interests. These are often the poorest people in the country, living without basic services like electricity and clean water and certainly no education for young girls. Often, trafficked women are sold for a song into slavery by their parents or close family members. It’s an economics decision. The family’s poor, and they can’t afford to keep raising a girl. Maybe they have a large debt to pay off. They sell their daughter to pay off the debt, or maybe a recruiter comes and promises a job in a big city. Maybe the family knows this means prostitution, maybe they don’t. Maybe they think that their daughter will actually be better off. The point is, when a girl comes from a very poor family, she’s at a high risk of being trafficked. It’s just too easy for recruiters to convince, or bribe, or blackmail, or outright kidnap her and funnel her into the sex trade.

Here’s an article that talks about poverty and sex trafficking. It deals with Bosnia, but I think the issues are pretty transferable.

Here’s a video that tells one of these stories pretty succinctly:

Here’s another video that also mentions the connection between poverty and sex trafficking:

Poverty and Sex Trafficking… Again

It’s important to realize that when I talk about poverty, I’m referring to the region that the girl is from. Thailand is actually considered a moderately wealthy nation. It’s the world’s 33rd largest economy (nominal GDP) and 24th using purchasing power parity (see wikipedia). The problem is most of that development is in the cities, while a large portion of the country lives in abject poverty in rural areas. The International Food Policy Research Institute did a study in 2004 on the best ways to reduce poverty in Thailand, and they came to some interesting conclusions. The number one way of reducing poverty was to invest in agricultural research. The second most effective method is the provision of electricity, followed by road construction. This leads me to believe that by building roads and providing electricity to rural parts of Thailand, some of the root causes for sex trafficking could be reduced. That’s an interesting way of fighting the sex trade…