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In some cases, sex slavery and human trafficking are connected to one another. Human trafficking is the practice of being tricked, lured, coerced, or otherwise removed from their home or country. In most instances, human trafficking of women and children had led them to being sexually exploited by traffickers. It is believed that more people are being trafficked across the border against their will now then at any point in the past.
Adult victims are lured into this hidden industry with false promises of good jobs in other countries, false marriage proposals, or kidnapped. Children are also kidnapped into the sex industry, sold by their own families, and at times families are manipulated into selling their children. Traffickers would tell parents or family members that the children would have a brighter future if they left their families. Families believed that these traffickers would take their children and teach them a good trade to ensure their future, or be educated. But in reality, women and children are sold to brothels and held captive. Victims are kept in deplorable conditions, beaten, raped, and threatened. Medical care does not exist for those victims and many are exposed to deadly sexually transmitted diseases.
Viviene Cree (2008) wrote that women and children are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking because of their experience of powerlessness, poverty, gender-based discrimination, and the history of sexual and physical violence. Unfortunately, human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is not something that happened overnight. History has shown us that the selling and using of the human body for sexual gratification was happening then and practice is continuing today. While searching for some information on the history of sex slavery, we found several academic articles that dealt with the owning of women and children for sexual use.
Yaron Ben-Naeh (2006) wrote that from the 16th to the 19th century, female slaves were kept in Jewish household during the Ottoman Empire. The slaves that were being kept in these households were of Slavic origins captured during the Ottoman Campaign, or by their Tator collaborators in Eastern Europe. Because these slaves were of Slavic origins, the documented physical descriptions of these slaves were that they had fair colored hair and light colored eyes. Females were sought out for their domestic skills, strength, and their obedience. It was also suggested that the slaves were considered as ‘beautiful objects’ that were present in the household. Court records, from that period, listed a wide range of prices of slaves. Prices were given according to the slave’s physical attributes, skills, appearance, age, and the length of service agreed upon. These females were not only used for domestic servitude, but some were used as concubines to the males of the households, usually the master of the domain. Sexual relationships with their masters were part of the slave’s domestic duties. There was some documentation that female slaves were freed from their owners, if they were loyal and obedient. It was also written that some slaves mentioned in the wills of their deceased masters.
Sometimes these slaves were left some money or items in the will. Some slaves are transferred to different family members or sold to neighbors when their owners passed away. It was not uncommon for some female slaves to be married off to family members, relatives, or friends. Children of the female slave, if they converted to Judaism and the Jewish owner acknowledged paternity, were legitimate heir and were legally allowed to their father’s inheritance.
Viviene Cree (2008) wrote that public concern about human trafficking is not new. In the 19th and the 20th century, organizations were put together to stop the trafficking of human beings. One of these organizations was The National Vigilance Association (NVA), which was launched on August 1885 in London, UK. The purpose of the organization was to undertake private prosecution and alert the police to the infringements of the newly passes Criminal Law Act. The main provisions were:
*1. It became an offense to procure a woman under 21 years of age for prostitution.
*2. The age of sexual consent was raised from 13 years to 16 years
*3. Anyone who detained a women or a girl for the purpose of unlawful sex, in an brothel or other premise.
*4. Financial penalties or imprisonment were imposed on anyone found guilty of keeping, managing, assisting, owning, or renting out premises used as a brothel or for the purpose of prostitution.
In the beginning, the organization was focused on local activities in their area. For instance, prostitutes were blamed for the declining health of the nation and the armed forces. The NVA created campaigns to eradicate prostitution. To accomplish this task, members investigated brothels, dance halls, and ‘dangerous houses’. Members of the organization were able to remove women and children whom they believed were at risk.
At the end of the 19th century, the NVA’s executive committee formed the International Bureau’s British National Committee to handle international activities. In 1921, the League of Nations took over the responsibilities of the International Bureau and combined their forces with the NVA ‘on seeking agreements between countries on the repatriation on prostitutes, on the traffic of women and children, and on the abolition of ‘licensed houses’ (regulated brothels), and on the assistance of expelled foreign prostitutes’. The organization targeted the white slave trade, which dealt with child prostitution and the entrapment and removal of white British girls from overseas brothels. The panic was over the kidnapping of innocent (white) girls who were being forced into the life of prostitution. Socialist believed that prostitution, at that time, was the inevitable by-product of capitalism. Women had to use their bodies because the economic structure did not offer women legitimate opportunities of earning a wage.
Another part of history has shown us that war was another excuse used to violate women’s bodies, such as trafficking women across to the battlefield to service soldiers. The ‘comfort women’ use by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII, was one of the most extreme forms of institutionalized forms of violence against women. It was institutionalized because the Japanese military felt that if they set up brothel stations it would reduce the amount of rapes. Until recently, the ‘comfort women’ of WWII have been silent and lost in the written pages of history books. The military called these women ‘military comfort women’ to disguise the horrific nature and true purpose of these women. In December 1991, Korean women had started to come forward claiming to be ‘comfort women’ and exposing sexual crimes committed against them by the Japanese army during the war. Pyong Gap Min wrote that the victimization of Korean Comfort Movement has three major components: (1) their being forced into military sexual slavery, (2) their suffering inside military brothels, and (3) their half-century of agonizing experiences after their return home. These women came forward because they felt that they deserved any official apology from the Japanese government. They also were seeking compensation, prosecution of offenders and war criminals, proper education of the public on the nature of this war crime, a rewritten history of war crimes in the textbooks to include the sexual violations, and memorial tablets for the deceased ‘comfort women’.
Young girls, between the ages of 14 to 17, were taken off the streets by Japanese soldiers and were forced to service an average of thirty to forty soldiers a day. George Hicks wrote in his book, The Comfort Women: Japan’s Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War that these women were rotated between some many men that ‘their pudenda grew swollen and inflamed, and they were constantly attempting to gain relief by applying cold towels’. Hicks also mention, that women were taught ‘tricks of the trade’ by maximizing time and effort. They were taught to douche between rapes, or hurriedly apply cotton wool soaked in disinfectant. As supplies started to run low, the women had to reuse condoms by rinsing them off between uses. These girls were made to service in military brothels established in China and other Asian and Pacific countries during the Asian and Pacific War (1932-1945). The girls came from Korean, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. European women were also used by the military. These women were of Dutch, taken from prisoner of war camps in Indonesia. The estimate numbers of women taking and transported across the battlefield was about 200,000, and less than 30 percent survived to the end of the war. Korean women made up the higher percentage of the women taking, about 80 percent of the total population of ‘comfort women’.
The Japanese army divided the women according to race, class, nationality, and the ranks of the officers they were made to service. Korean women and Asian women were taken an advantaged of by the lower class soldiers. Japanese and European women were saved for the upper class officers of the military. Korean women were treated more cruelly than Japanese women, mainly because of Japanese’s colonization of Korea.
It was not until recently, that the Japanese government would not acknowledge the use of ‘comfort women’ during WWII. For years, Japan had denied the recruitment and transportation of these women. On January 16, 1992, Yoshimi Yoshiaki, a Japanese history professor, discovered documents found information about the ‘military comfort women’ in the library of Japan’s Self Defense Force in Japan. Finally, with the discovery of documentation and victims stepping forward, Japan admitted to this part of their history and issued a formal apology in August of 1993 with no compensation. Instead the government solicited donations from their citizens and put the funds into the Asian Movement Fund. By doing this, the government avoided any legal and financial responsibilities.
Another war that contributed to the trafficking of females to service male soldiers was during the Vietnam War. During the war, the Thai government received billions of dollars in military and economic aid because of its alignment with the United States (Ratchada Jayagupta (2009). In exchange, the Thai government authorized 700,000 U.S military troops in north-eastern and eastern Thailand. Because of the increase of foreign men coming into their areas, criminal networks started to recruit females from costal towns of Pattaya and Bangkok for sexual services. These women were used to service military men on their leave time. To help facilitate the migration process, immediate family member of the women, locals, and traffickers would be involved in the transportation. When the U.S government withdraw its troops from Thailand, which did not stop sex tourism in Thailand. As a matter of fact, by 1982 tourism had become Thailand’s top foreign exchange earner.
In most cases involving crime and criminal activities, the males’ exploitations of females was/is for the purpose of sexual gratification and for profit. In the animal kingdom, some species exploit their females not for the purpose of satisfying their lust but to ensure the continuation of the species. One of these animals is a species of copepods, called a sea louse. The sea louse males start recruiting females by giving off a chemical smell that females find irresistible. The female would follow the chemical trail that lead up to the male’s lair. When she gets close enough, the male would capture her and bring her inside the lair. The male would repeat the same procedure for the next three months until he has enough females. The male sea louse can have up to three dozens females in his harem. He will line all the females in a row in his tunnel to monitor them closely. When the females begin to molt, he will then mate with each of them. The females will sacrifice their lives in order for their offspring s to survive. Each female will become swollen with eggs, and when it is time those eggs will hatch. It takes a lot of energy to hold such a large number of young in her shell. By the time the young are ready to be born, she will died of exhaustion.
Money is the incentive of most crime and criminal activities. Unfortunately, sex slavery or human trafficking is a highly profitable underground industry. Rachada Jayagupta (2009) believes the human trafficking has now become the third largest criminal activity in the world, next to drugs and arms trafficking. Jennifer Ludden (2009) wrote that human trafficking is the second largest illicit business in the World after drugs. After narcotics and arms sales, trafficking is estimated to be the largest source of revenue for organized crime (U.S. Department of State 2004). Trafficking of human beings is such a lucrative business, that it profits are estimated to be in the billions every year.
The selling of the human body is considered more profitable than drugs. In 1990, the trafficking of human, mostly for prostitution, generated an annual profit between $1.9 billion and $3.2 billion Canadian (Janet Bagnall (2002). Drugs are sold and used once, but the body of the person can be used and sold over and over again. Women, who are sold into prostitution, can be earners for their pimp for years. Most of the money that these women make goes directly to the hands of their pimps, with little or nothing going to the victims.
On February 5, 2010, The Sun reported that an Irish Pimp, who ran a multi-million euro prostitution ring in Wales, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Thomas Carroll, his wife Shamiela Clark, and his daughter Toma Carroll, were all sentence for trafficking women and forcing them into prostitution. The girls, who would charge their clients 250 euro for an hour, had to lodge their earning into Toma Carroll’s account. Carroll would than transfer the money to her father’s account. In 2006, 111,000 euros was deposited, 113 million euro was deposited in 2007, and 500,000 was lodged by September 2009. Trafficked women retain little or nothing of the money they earn.
Women and children of these sex industries are immediately discarded when they no longer become attractive to their potential clients, or are no longer profitable to their pimps. In Cambodia, children are considered commodities, and are often tortured and killed when they have outlived their usefulness. Another reason for the short lifespan of these victims is they are more susceptible to diseases. With inadequate health care and poor hygiene, many victims are infected by AIDS and other transmitted diseases.
Victims are giving drugs and rape repeatedly by their captures to break their wills and prevent them from escaping. These captures would usually be the first to rape their victims, in order to give them ‘lessons’ on how to please their clients. If these trafficked women or girls do no meet the quota or the requirements to satisfy the clients, they would be quickly sold off to another person or brothel. Women and children are also given drugs so they can earn more money by taking on more clients. Some women and girls choose to take methamphetamines, in order to endure the physical and mental pain. They also take the drugs to be able to take on more clients. Kuntea Pang, left her home in Kampong Cham, to find her sister in the city. When she arrived there, a woman and said that she would help Kuntea find her sister. Instead, this woman brought her to a brothel and gave her methamphetamines. The drug made her not want to eat and not want to sleep, qualities that are desirable in sex workers. The methamphetamine also made Kuntea forget what happened to her as she was being held captive.
When women and children are discarded, new recruits must take her place in the sex industry. Traffickers target victims according to the taste of their customers. In Thailand, young virgins in the sex tourism industry are considered a prize commodity. Virgins are prized because of their youth, inexperience, and the lack of sexually transmitted disease. Child virgins are especially prized because of their beauty and lack of sexual transmitted diseases. Larry Hilblom, the founder of DHL courier service, was one of those people who preferred the innocent of children. Generic testing had confirmed that he fathered at least four children from three Pacific Rim countries (Scheer, 1997). Shared Hope International (SHI), a non-profit group, undertook a 12 month long operation of commercial sexual exploitation in Jamaica, Japan, Netherlands, and the United States. SHI revealed a sophisticated business model for the sex tourism and sex trafficking. They compared this business with being in a mall. In a mall, buyers are able to choose from a variety of human products of different ages and different colors. David Hodge wrote that traffickers increase their market by being able to provide younger and younger females to be used for prostitution. The United States Central Intelligence Agency, estimates that traffickers can earn about $250,000 for each trafficked women.
Child pornography is another type of sex industry that has become highly profitable for pimps and child sex operators. Child pornography includes magazines, videos, photographs, books, pictures, audiotapes, motion pictures, and images on the Web that show children in sexually explicit acts. Barri Flowers (2001) said, ‘Some children are forced into child pornography by pimps and operators of sex rings or sex tourism, where they turn into sex slaves’. In Germany, the sales of child porn are estimated to exceed $250 million. The biggest consumer of child porn comes from the United States, with their numbers to be about 6 million dollars annually. Eighty-five percent of the worldwide sales of pornography come from America (Flowers, 2001).
So how much does a human body cost in this underground economy? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) gave an example of how profitable the selling of human being is. They used the example of a girl who was kidnapped in the village of Nepal. This girl would be trafficked to India and sold for $1000 and then trafficked into the United States and sold for $20,000. Janet Bagnall from the Gazette, wrote that young girls from Nepal are sold at the Indian border for four dollars. They are then sold a second time to brothel owners in Bombay for $500 to $1000. These girls would not be able to leave the brothels until their purchase price has been paid off. The purchase price plus interest would be a ‘debt’ that these Nepali girls must pay off, which might stretch on indefinitely. The United Nation estimates that human traffickers can earn about 10 billion dollars per year, and the average sale price for a slave is $12,500.
Traffickers, pimps, organized groups have found another way to increase their profit margins. Instead of staying within their own countries, these opportunists have found a way to take their industry globally. By being able to transport women and children to a wider range, they are able to supply a larger clientele. Criminal gangs have started trafficking their victims to area where they believe there will be a high demand for sexual services, such as rock concerts, football games, and other major sporting events. During the World Cup games in 2006, there was an increase of sex trafficking to meet the demand for commercial sex during that event. It is estimated that more than 40,000 women and children were transported to Germany for the month long event. Many victims were placed in mega brothel, quickie shacks, and other underground networks that existed in Germany during that time.
The Internet has made it especially easy for clients to find their victims in other countries. Technological advances have made it possible for a much broader, international group of consumers to travel long distances to have sex with minors in the 20th and the 21st century. The Internet is highly unregulated and the fastest growing communication network in the world. In just a matter of minutes, a man can book a plane ticket, get a hotel, and reserve the body of a female all in the comfort and privacy of his own home. Donna Hughes said that ‘advertisements and endorsements for sex tourism, mail order brides, brothels, strip bars, and escort services are openly and easily found on the World Wide Web’. Men are able to go onto internet discussion groups and find information on the sex industry. They are able to find names of brothels in other countries, information on the price of women and girls. Descriptions on sex tours found in The World Sex Guide would have information on hotel prices, taxi services, telephone numbers, cost of alcohol, what kinds of sex act that can be bought, the price for each act, and the comments about the women. In 1995, an American man who operated Pimps R’ Us, organized a sex tour to the Dominican Republic. The tour was four days and three nights and included oral sex from a prostitute chosen by the tour guide. As of 1996, 25 companies in the United States offer ‘sex tours’ to other countries. These packaged deals will include plane tickets, accommodations, ground transportation, local guide, and the promise of sexual encounters with local girls. One U.S based sex tour operator promises customer that they will never sleep alone in this tour.
Women and children are trafficked everyday to underdeveloped and developed countries. It is not uncommon for women and children to be trafficked from countries that have economic and political problems. ‘The flow of the trafficked is from poorer to richer countries. From Latin America to the United States and Western Europe, from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, the Middle East, Japan, North America; from Africa to Europe; from Nepal to India; from Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam to Thailand; from Thailand to Japan and Australia (Baird, 2007). Many of the women and girls are taken and trafficked into the commercial sex industry. The United Nation (UN) believes that the victim of trafficking spans the globe, ‘from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries’. Most of the slaves come from Albania, Belarus, China, Romania, Russia, and Thailand. They are then trafficked to destinations such as Asia, western Europe, North America, and the Middle East. It is estimated that as many as half of the 100,000 women and children working in brothels in Bombay came from Nepal (Wilson, 1997). Since the 1990’s, girls are being trafficked to Thailand from neighboring countries. These countries are Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Yunnan Province in China. Women and girls are trafficked from Cambodia primary from Vietnam. The victims are brought from Cambodia and sent to brothels in Phnom Penh to work. Some Cambodians are transported out to other countries like Thailand, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The regions with substantial child trafficking burdens include West Africa, South and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Latin America (Beyrer 2004). In Quebec, organized crime network can recruit and transport Russian women from their homes and into Quebec message parlors with 3 weeks.
Foreign tourists who travel to these countries come from fairly rich, developed countries. A large number of foreign sex tourists are males from wealthy industrialized countries like the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Japan. A high number of tourists come from the Unites States. ‘Each year foreign travelers from predominantly Western countries pump billions of dollars into the economies of developing nations when they purchase sexual services’ (Andrews, 2004). Foreigners feel that paying for sex with a female or male is part of the travel experience. It is hard to estimate how many foreign tourists frequent these Southeast Asian countries because many tourists evade arrest in these countries that they commit the crimes. Child sex tourist face little fear of being caught because there is a relatively low risk of being prosecuted in the countries that they committed their criminal act. Police corruption and the government turning a blind eye is another reason these men get away with their crimes. ‘Most developing nations have little incentive for domestic enforcement because tourism is one of the main driving forces behind their economies’ (Andrews, 2004). It is very difficult for victims to seek help from institutions that were mandated to protect people; instead these institutions also become the ‘puppets’ of organized gangs. Some peace officers are paid to look the other way by pimps, organized gangs, or traffickers. Corrupt law enforcement officials are giving bribes or sexual services in return for not arresting pimps or brothel owners (Andrews, 2004). In Cambodia, Dr. Kek Galabru, president of a human rights group, said that public official profit greatly from protection of child sex trade and that they themselves are frequent patrons of the brothels where the children are sold. Sri, a fourteen year old girl from Thailand, was sold to a brothel owned by an ‘investment club’. The members of this club were business and professional men, government bureaucrats, and local politicians. These men would leave the management of the brothel to pimps and a bookkeeper, to keep their hands clean. When Sri tried to run away from the brothel, a policeman found her and brought her back to her pimp. Slave trade requires the direct or indirect involvement of national governments (Kapstein, 2006). Since the profits are so high, traffickers have plenty of money to pay off government officials and local law enforcement. The U.S House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary said, ‘sex tourists often escape prosecution in the host countries, because of factors ranging from ineffective law enforcement, lack of resources, corruption and immature legal system’.
Sex slavery is not only happening in other countries, but also in the United States. In the United States, brothels are operating as legitimate message parlors, spas, and acupuncture clinics. The U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted 555 people for human trafficking between 2001 and 2005, of those cases 129 cases involved child sex trafficking. The State Department revealed that 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year against their will. Shared Hope International and the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated that every year 100,000 underage girls are forced or lured into the world of prostitution. Las Vegas is one city where minor sex trafficking is happening in large numbers. Children are being trafficked to Las Vegas from all over the United States. Interstates and expressways are making it easier for pimps to transport their victims across state lines. Truck drivers are recruited to drive minors to different states and deposit them to truck stops. CV radios become a very useful tool for truck drivers and sex workers to find each other. Sex workers would announce that they are available by letting the drivers know what channel she is on. If a driver is interested, he would tell the prostitute where he is located and what color is ‘house’ is. Truck stops are the perfect place for hidden crimes to happen because they are isolated and out of the public and law enforcement view.
United States Department of State Report
The major source, The U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) annual report, is utilize to determine the trafficking efforts from various countries and to connect it to foreign assistance that performs in that region (Schuckman, p. 85). The report is arranged from Tier 1 to be most compliant to Tier 3 as noncompliant (McKinney, 2009):
Tier 1: Countries that fully comply with the act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
Tier 2: Countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance.
Tier 2: Watch List: Countries on Tier 2 requiring special scrutiny because of high or significantly increasing number of victims; failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons; or an assessment as Tier 2 based on commitments to take action over the next year.
Tier 3: Countries that neither satisfy the minimum standards nor demonstrate a significant effort to come into compliance. Countries in this tier are subject to potential non-humanitarian and non-trade sanctions.
According to U.S. Department TIP for June 2009, Italy has a Tier 1 status. However,
Italy is one of many countries that traffickers harbor and transport women and children internationally for sexual exploitation. ‘Women and children are trafficked for forced prostitution mainly from Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Albania, and Ukraine but also from Russia, South America, North and East Africa, the Middle East, China, and Uzbekistan’ (McKinney, 2009). According to the NGO statistics, there are two-thirds of the ninety percent of illegal foreign seasonal workers in Italy. This provides a larger opportunity for traffickers to prey on these victims. Moreover, these traffickers make it difficult for law enforcements to track the victims by constantly rotating these victims from various cities for a short period of a time. Even with the challenges, the Italian Government will continue to comply with the limited regulations to stop human trafficking.
The Government of Italy is not showing mercy when traffickers are prosecuted and convicted. Italy abides by the 2003 Measures Against Trafficking in Persons law. This law provides the convicted a sentence of eight to twenty years of imprisonment, punishment equivalent to other grave offenses (US Senate Subcommittee, 2000). If the convicted was charged for trafficking for forced labor, then other laws will be used. ‘Incomplete data for 2008 show the government investigated 2,221 individuals, arrested 316, prosecuted 480 trafficking suspects, and convicted 225 trafficking offenders, compared to 163 convicted for the same time frame in 2007’ (US Senate Subcommittee, 2000). According to NGO ECPAT, roughly 80,000 Italian men travel to Kenya, Thailand, Brazil, Latin America, and the Czech Republic for sex tourism annually. In May 2008, an Italian male committed an offense both Thailand and Cambodia for child sex tourism. The Government sentenced him a total of fourteen years of imprisonment.
The Italian Government not only offers punishment, but also protection for the victims. According to Article 18, anit-trafficking law allows authorities to grant residence permits and provide protection and job training services to victims of trafficking. Also, Article 13 provides for six months’ assistance to victims. With these assistance provided, these victims will have some hope for independence and begin a new life. Another benefit provided for victims is that they are not generally penalized if they file complaints against
their traffickers. This will assist in more prosecutions and encourages victims to become
According to the U.S. State Department TIP June 2009 report, Russian ranks Tier 2-watch list. This is alarming. According to Schuckman, the activists that work for human rights, international, and humanitarian organizations, argue that countries that are technically in Tier 3 are granted a higher Tier 2-watch list as a diplomatic gesture. Nevertheless, Russia continues to be an origin as a transit and destination country for
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