ion> with my son. Again, they did not accept me. They took in my son only, and I could not take care of him.
destitute on the street again, I was forced to prostitute in Tirana, in the
hotels and motels. I slept wherever I could – on the street, in the park. I
decided my condition would be better in
I find calmness and support in the shelter, and I now contemplate my future. I do not want anything else except to go home, to see and take care of my son, to be the mother he missed for so long.”
~ Account courtesy of the Association of Albanian Girls and Women
- disparity of terms: trafficking language and data difficulties -
The official definition of human trafficking varies widely between governments, NGOs and other agencies, with certain themes often, and other key issues remaining under-addressed; this “lack of consensus” underlines the innately nebulous nature of the issue and “continues to be a barrier to progress – both in addressing and studying the issue.” [xiii] One issue is language: where separate nations’ trafficking documents are converted into other languages (for presentation at multinational anti-trafficking conventions, for example), such documents, which often detail the experiences and first-hand interviews of trafficked persons as originally given in their native tongue, may suffer from mistranslation; loose, shoddy or overly-interpretable transliteration; lack of relevant translations for local vernacular (a common issue when addressing sensitive issues of sex work or domestic labor) and the loss of difficult, nuanced, or culturally-specific ideas and undertones via the process of translation.
Once the inherent linguistic issues have been addressed, establishing a common trafficking vocabulary – one that, ideally, upholds some sense of cultural relevance regarding multiple cultures’ different trafficking terms and the subtleties therein – proves difficult. Another obstacle to standardizing the language of trafficking, writes Elizabeth Kelly for the International Organization for Migration, is the lack of trafficked persons’ self-identification. With so many terms in use,
…[it] is even less likely that research participants, trafficked women and children in particular, will be aware of an agreed international definition and they are, therefore, likely to define trafficking in a variety of ways that diverge both from the Palermo definition and various national laws. While this is a problem in practice, research and policy need not rely on ‘self-definitions,’ especially since the tendency for women to minimize their situation and not define themselves as victims is certainly not limited to trafficking. [xiv]
Disparities in the terms across the trafficking discourse are widespread, and the resulting discrepancies across nations’ trafficking data often stymie anti-trafficking efforts and skew numbers: “…signatories to the Protocol are likely to have different definitions in their national laws, and it is these that are used in the construction of official data.” [xv] As such, language and terminology differences result in nearly all global statistical reports on trafficking – reports that are numerically questionable to begin with, due to the illicit, difficult to track, and therefore grossly underreported nature of trafficking incidents – being further distorted.
- What Causes Trafficking? - What factors render individuals vulnerable to human trafficking? The vulnerability of victims of trafficking is made up of a constellation of elements, and women and children are particularly susceptible to these various forces that propel trafficking. Status- and empowerment-reducing elements, including poverty and the feminization of poverty, in the case of the trade’s many female victims; reduced cultural esteem of the woman’s or child’s value in society; scarce job opportunities within the home country, and the traditional roles played by women and children as determined by culture and religion in the various origin countries all serve as driving factors for the booming trafficking trade.
On a global scale, possibly the most influential factor to motivate trafficking is poverty. According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), "Trafficking is inextricably linked to poverty. Wherever privation and economic hardship prevail, there will be those destitute and desperate enough to enter into the fraudulent employment schemes that are the most common intake systems in the world of trafficking."[xvi] Throughout many poverty-stricken regions of the world, a belief often predominates that any work abroad will yield more income and a better life than work within the country; as such, poverty-ridden families are particularly vulnerable to the recruitment methods used by trafficking agents. Beyond this, feminization of poverty, in particular, contributes heavily to the increased rates of trafficking of women across the world: the combination of more female-funded households, lower pay rates and scarce domestic job opportunities for women, paired with the often prohibitive expense of trying to emigrate legally for work abroad, results in the increased likelihood that a woman will turn to the informal economy to earn a living, or that the family of a young female or child will resort to trafficking measures as a source of income and opportunity.
drives trafficking in more than one way, and contributes to the vicious cycle
in which many trafficked women become ensnared. In many situations, women who
were once on the receiving end of the harmful results of trafficking eventually
become the perpetuators of the process in order to remain above poverty. The literature cites several examples of
Filipina women trafficked from the
Existing global issues of gender imbalance – which often stem from the traditional, religiously-determined roles of women – compounded with the feminization of poverty, render women and children, in particular, prime candidates for trafficking.
Social constructs, as set forth by religion, impact significantly upon the vulnerability of women and children to trafficking. Various social customs, such as the practice of dowry, require that women marry at a young age, often via forced or arranged marriages. Traditionally associated with bride-burning and the commoditization of women in other areas of the world, dowry is one of the cultural practices that contribute to the reduction of the value of the female, which in turn informs upon the spread of trafficking. Among many international communities and subcultures, there is significant emphasis placed upon the traditional, subservient role of a woman, in which she is responsible for serving and supporting her family. [xvii]
Traffickers take full advantage of the proverbial hands that these women have been dealt, manipulating potential victims in various ways: “…by advertising in newspapers for dancers, waitresses, club hostesses, etc. or by direct recruitment in discotheques and bars. [Traffickers] also lure women through the use of marriage bureaus.” [xviii] Means of coercing women into prostitution are as diverse: upon entry into the destination country, victims may have their passports and travel documentation confiscated or destroyed, such that they cannot leave; some women are even led into drug dependency by their traffickers or madams, so that they have to continue sex work as a means to support their addiction. [xix]
Another issue frequently cited by returned trafficking victims is debt bondage. As defined by the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, debt bondage is “the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.” [xx] Debt bondage is a particularly harmful coercion technique in that it contributes to a systematized cycle of trafficking: in many situations, if a woman cannot repay the monies owed to traffickers for her transportation and document costs, she may take on additional jobs while abroad (for which hiring a “placement agent” can cost her a large portion of her typically sparse salary), or, upon repatriation, be forced into trafficking again – thereby compiling more documentation and travel debt – in order to pay off her initial debts. With few legitimate earning options available to her, this practice can set the woman on a path of perpetual indebtedness, in which repeated trafficking is both the cause and the most available solution.
- What constitutes choice? -
Separate from, and yet intricately linked to the idea of consent (discussed in the next section) is the hazy realm of choice. This topic merits attention because it is significantly correlated with the trafficking of individuals; however, it is a huge subject and therefore will only be summarized briefly in this chapter. Looking beyond the disputed issue of an individual’s consent to enter into a trafficking situation, even in situations where people actively and knowingly choose to be trafficked to jobs of sex work or servitude, the idea of “choice” is debatable. While the individual home-country situations of trafficked people across the world vary tremendously, the average trafficking victim typically comes from a particularly poor region or family within a less affluent country. Most of the countries that experience high rates of outbound female trafficking are also characterized by significant gender imbalances often due to disparate educational levels, religious beliefs, and a resultant lack of earning opportunities for females within the formal economy. Does the act of deciding between inexistent or scarce earning options and any available earning prospects truly represent an active choice, or is it simply a means of moving oneself a few meager notches up an economic spectrum by taking advantage of an illicit, and possibly harmful, opportunity? With so few chances for earning available to them in their home regions, individuals who “choose” to be trafficked typically do so in order to mitigate economic difficulties faced either personally or by their families. Beyond this, regular migration (traveling to another country via lawful means) is often prohibitively expensive and time-consuming for people in this situation, which is one reason trafficking becomes a viable option.
Anti-Slavery International’s UK Communications Director Mike Kaye explains, “The lack of regular migration opportunities to take up work in other countries and the fact that many migrants are looking for work abroad as a means of survival, rather than an opportunity to improve their standard of living, has left migrants with little choice but to rely on smugglers or traffickers in order to access these jobs.” [xxi] It is not, therefore, a matter of living well: for the majority of people who have undergone trafficking, the decision to travel irregularly stemmed from their need to simply survive. From a humanitarian perspective, this kind of “choice” serves to emphasize the condition of poverty-stricken individuals’ lives in their home countries: what problems are they facing, on a global scale, that they should regard irregular migration or trafficking as a solution? Additionally, returning to the difficult issue of defining trafficking, the Palermo Protocol states that trafficking has occurred if a person is moved under “…threat or …forms of coercion, [or] …of the abuse of power of a position of vulnerability….”[xxii] Within this definition, the sources (be it a person or a social construct) and forms (whether physical, mental, fiscal, emotional, or of another quality) of these various means of coercion, and their temporal nature (immediate, sporadic, or long-term) are not explained, however. To this end, given the typical home situation of a person who turns to trafficking as a means to earn subsistence, one must ask whether poverty or suppressive home-culture measures should be considered coercive forces that drove him or her to turn to trafficking in order to better define trafficking and to better identify and target at-risk populations.
Another difficulty regarding the matter of choice is common to various other international health affairs: its tremendously relative nature, both culturally and economically. This speaks to the idea that what one person from one culture, education level, family status and earning ability may consider to be a “choice” does not necessarily reflect what another person within a different set of circumstances might. This seems to be a relatively recent subject in the discourse, and needs to be better addressed within the literature on human trafficking to make anti-trafficking programs more effective.
- INTRICACIES WITHIN HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Prostitution, Consent and Victimization in the UN Palermo Protocol -
There is a huge spectrum of beliefs
regarding sex trafficking, prostitution, and consent, and this chapter will
touch upon a few of these issues surrounding the negotiations of the Palermo
Protocols. In December 2000, over eighty countries signed the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress
and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, in
Palermo, Italy (hence the documents are often referred to as the Palermo
Protocols). A definition of human trafficking was created in
For the purposes of this Protocol: (a) ‘Trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction or fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another persons, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.[xxiii]
of trafficking was the target of heavy feminist lobbying during the two years
in which the
The lobby efforts were split into two camps, deeply divided in their attitudes towards prostitution. One lobby framed prostitution as legitimate labor. The other considered all prostitution to be a violation of women’s human rights. Not only feminist NGO networks were bitterly divided over the issue, however: many state delegations used the negotiations as an opportunity to denounce the evils of prostitution, while others…argued that focusing on prostitution detracted from the efforts to come to an agreement on trafficking. The differences were most ferociously fought out during debates on the proposed definition of trafficking, with the pivotal term “consent.” [xxiv]
The Palermo Protocol’s definition of trafficking suggests that even if the victim initially gives consent to be trafficked, her consent is considered moot within a legal framework because various methods of coercing the victim into issuing a consent (amongst them, “means of threat, or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction or fraud…” [xxv]) were probably used; as such, the trafficked person’s word is not truly uninfluenced, freely-given consent. Essentially, the consent of a victim to the intended exploitation is irrelevant where any of the exploitative means have been used.
Part II of this chapter will discuss in depth the situation of the many women who are unwittingly or forcibly trafficked into sex work. The UN Palermo Protocol states that prostitution is by definition a form of exploitation, and that any woman who has been trafficked into prostitution has been exploited. In this sense, the language in the Protocol characterizes all women who have been trafficked as victims in need of protection, regardless of consent or whether they suffered due to the trafficking, and, in the case of prostitutes, whether or not their involvement in prostitution was coerced or voluntary. However, there are women working as prostitutes who knowingly used trafficking as a means to travel from their home countries to situations of improved earning opportunity, and it has been argued that these individuals are not necessarily “victims” of trafficking.
Many ideas regarding prostitution as one implicitly non-consensual end result of human trafficking informs further upon women’s health on a global scale by targeting the issue of prostitution and its vulnerable, largely female population. Because various definitions of trafficking make little or no distinction between the forced and unforced types of prostitution into which trafficked women may enter, and due to the frequent societal correlation between prostitutes and trafficked women, many agencies combine their anti-trafficking efforts with measures to combat prostitution, regardless of whether the women in each case chose to become prostitutes, or whether they were coerced into it.
Bebe Loff writes, “Historically, efforts to combat trafficking have ended up justifying repressive measures against prostitutes themselves in the name of 'protection' for women and children.” [xxvi] Implementing highly restrictive measures on sex workers can have devastating consequences, from both global health and human rights perspectives: because the majority of prostitutes work outside of the law, they are civilly vulnerable, with no recourse to protection from crime and little or no access to healthcare. Additionally, “legally sanctioned encouragement of prostitutes to use condoms or access screening services, both major determinants of the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, is impossible because of their illegal status.” [xxvii]
Regardless of the moral and legal connotations attached to prostitution, wide-aiming anti-trafficking policies that simultaneously target the practice of prostitution relegate millions of trafficked sex workers further to the outskirts of society, and impede the protection of the individuals involved, rather than helping them:
The International Labor Organization (ILO) has signed conventions on forced labor (1930), holidays with pay (1936), the protection of the right to organize (1948), the protection of wages (1949), and migration for employment (1949), but because of our intuitive sense that sex work should be marginalized as immoral and degrading to women, none of these rules has been applied to the gray market in sexual services. Our well-meaning desire to "protect" women forces the prostitution industry underground and out of the reach of established labor statutes. [xxviii]
The continued stripping of prostitutes’ human rights – one unfortunate side effect of anti-trafficking campaigns – pares down their already limited health rights, further reduces their access to healthcare, and renders sex workers even more vulnerable to harm from various sources. Inherent to the nature of their work, prostitutes are at great risk of violence in the workplace, or violence at the hands of arresting or deporting authorities; additionally, they are significantly more susceptible to HIV infection due to their lowered status: “Vulnerability to contracting HIV has been characterised as ‘exercising little or no control over one’s risk of acquiring HIV infection… vulnerability is magnified by societal factors such as marginalisation or discrimination.’ This account encapsulates the situation of most prostitutes.” [xxix] Marginalization of prostitution can also impact the very individuals whom the anti-trafficking policies aim to protect: those who have already been unwillingly or unwittingly trafficked and coerced into sex work. This is particularly true in situations involving the rescuing and reintegrating of these victims: “Where women are still within the sex industry, their fear of both the traffickers and the local law enforcement and immigration officials is likely to affect what they will say, including whether they identify themselves as victims of trafficking.” [xxx] Addressing the UN Palermo Protocol’s definition of prostitution within the framework of trafficking, Bebe Loff and her coauthors conclude,
The failure to recognize the distinction between forced and unforced prostitution allows the claims of prostitutes’ rights groups to be ignored. This expression of international law undermines efforts to reduce the incidence of HIV and AIDS and discriminates against prostitution on the basis of occupation. …This problem contributes to the vulnerability of prostitutes to disease. …[Human] Rights instruments should not contribute to the vulnerability of populations to disease, they should aim to diminish this vulnerability.[xxxi]
Part II: TRAFFICKED WOMEN: SEX TRAFFICKING, INVOLUNTARY PROSTITUTION AND THEIR EFFECTS
By Asma Hussain
The exploitation of women occurs in numerous fashions through a variety of forces and conditions such as poverty, lack of education, little or no access to health care, economic restrictions, cultural, social, and religious ideologies, political violence and corruption, family structure, childcare, and limited decision-making in the household. The interplay and overlap of these forces reproduces, reinforces, and maintains the oppression of women. In order to survive, many women enter the dangerous work of prostitution – a profession that often keeps women in the strong threshold of oppression.
Consider the following statistics: according to the United Nations, although women comprise one-half of the world’s population, they do two-thirds of the world’s work while only earning one-tenth of the world’s income and they own one-hundredth of the world’s property.[xxxii] Eighty-percent of the world’s refugees are women and children and women constitute 70% of the world’s poor and two-thirds of the world’s illiterates.[xxxiii] Women occupy approximately one in seven of the world’s managerial and administrative jobs, and women are less likely to have access to paid employment; the average woman who does have a job earns only approximately half of the average man’s income.[xxxiv] Clearly, the current condition of women worldwide is one that offers little consolation, and when the situation of women is so despairing, the condition of prostitutes is typically worse.
The complex and multifaceted forces outlined above are intricately woven together to create, multiply, and sustain prostitution. The sex industry has become a multi-billion dollar global phenomenon that profits immensely from the collective and corrupt, direct and indirect work of mafias, police, government officials, policy-makers, tourists, airline workers, businessmen, clients, and even other women. Part II of this chapter is divided into five parts: the different methods through which women become prostitutes; the multiple social, economic, and political factors which help keep them in this work; the physical and health consequences of prostitution; the emotional, psychological and mental effects of prostitution; and a resource list of different organizations working to combat this worldwide problem. The final section of this chapter will address various steps that are being taken to stem the human trafficking trade on a global scale.
- Section 1: BECOMING A PROSTITUTE -
There are many methods through which women become prostitutes; this chapter will highlight four of the means by which individuals enter situations that result in their entry into involuntary prostitution: via trafficking; by kidnapping; via trickery; and via the selling of female relatives.
- Trafficking -
According to USAID, between
700,000 to 4 million people are annually bought and sold as prostitutes,
domestic workers, sex slaves, child laborers, and child soldiers.[xxxv]
As many as 100,000 female victims are forced into prostitution each year and
trafficking generally flows from poorer to wealthier nations, with South and
- Kidnapping -
Women and girls are forced into prostitution when traffickers who focus their attention on poor villages kidnap, illegally smuggle, and then sell the women to others who will force them to have intercourse with scores of strange men. One incident described how a trafficking agent in a central Thai province photographed village girls on their way to school. He then showed the pictures to a brothel keeper who “ordered” the girls he wanted. After the selection, the agent returned and kidnapped the chosen girls.[xl]
- Trickery -
Traffickers or recruiters may also offer women legitimate work such as restaurant workers, hostesses, models, domestic and household servants, or entertainment workers.[xli] The financially dismal situation of these families often drives them to give their children to traffickers who pose as job placement agents. Unbeknownst to them, their children are instead often forced to engage in dangerous sex with paying clients. Offers made to the families become even more appealing when traffickers take the responsibility to secure travel documents and even pay for the passage of the victims to different countries. Traffickers also often offer cash advances to poor families with young children in order to lay claim on their children’s futures.[xlii] For families who have little opportunity of a stable future, an offer of legitimate work with an all-expense-paid trip to another country hardly sounds like the workings of an illegal, corrupt, and violent underground economy.
- Selling of Female Relatives -
Apart from being kidnapped or tricked, women also become prostitutes when their families knowingly sell them into this profession. The lack of jobs and basic necessities experienced by those in poverty-stricken areas is cause enough to send their daughters to work with the only commodity they can sell — their bodies. And there is demand enough.
- Section 2: REMAINING A PROSTITUTE -
THE OPPRESSION OF PROSTITUTES
The nature of prostitution has been argued to be inherently oppressive; however, the tragedy does not end there. This oppression is methodical, stemming from a variety of social and cultural ideologies and economic and political forces. Sociologist Julia O’Connell Davidson[xliii] quotes Iris Young by declaring that “We cannot eliminate…structural oppression by getting rid of the rulers or making some new laws, because oppressions are systematically reproduced in major economic, political and cultural institutions.” [xliv] Although Davidson says that the domination of women is more than “being merely oppressed by the bad laws of bad guys,” this is actually a very large and imperative aspect of the perpetuation of oppression against prostitutes, especially when these “bad guys” legitimize their “bad laws” through ideology.
- Cultural Ideology -
In most societies, mainstream
religious and cultural ideologies perpetuate the view that prostitutes are
undeserving deviants from dominant society. Many also believe that
because these women have “chosen” this “promiscuous profession,” violence
against them is permissible. The popular notion that prostitutes are
morally inferior causes prostitutes to view themselves as being unworthy— a
belief that is of course maintained by the majority of the society in which
these prostitutes reside. Beadle
describes how the Sangha —
describes how prostitutes “often buy into discourse about gender and sexuality
which attach stigma and moral blame to prostitutes, rather than to their
third-party exploiters or clients.”[xlviii] She goes on to support her claim by providing
the account of one Filipina prostitute who says, “…If you have sex outside of
marriage, it’s as if you’re a bad woman who has ruined her life. You’re repulsive to look at. I think I’m still conservative in my
thinking. I still feel the same towards
the women who work in the clubs.”[xlix] Not only do prostitutes develop negative
feelings towards themselves, but they come to also view fellow prostitutes in
the same manner: in this way, ostracizing and stigmatization become a vicious
cycle within sex worker communities. In other cases, older women help younger
ones enter this profession and the former find no problems with this action. In fact, they believe they are helping these
younger women. Flamm describes one
narration by a female brothel owner who had just received a new girl: “She is
very pretty and very young, just 15 years old.
My girls are happy to stay here with my family. We live as one family. I provide for them a place to live and work,
and they can earn some money for later.
They are from very poor villages in
- Family structure/Childcare -
The limited involvement of women in household decisions also has an important effect upon their treatment as women and as prostitutes. Again, the rule of patriarchal societies does not allow women equal membership in important matters in the home. Rather, the rule becomes less participation, but more contribution. Remember that women do two-thirds of the world’s work despite the fact that men have more jobs and own more property than women. Husbands may live off the earnings of their wives who prostitute or they may even help their wives find clients. Husbands may even be the ones who first force their wives into prostituting to ensure the steady arrival of an income. Because of the woman’s lack of control over herself and her social position, the money she makes ends up in the hands of the decision-maker — this certainly not being her. Even women who are not prostitutes are subjected to their husband’s violent demands. Davidson shares the following disconcerting account:
I know non-prostitute women, for example, whose economically inactive male partners expect them to work two or three part-time cleaning jobs, as well as to perform all the domestic tasks in their own household, and who will use physical violence or the threat of it to ensure that they meet these expectations. I have also known non-prostitute women who have been manipulated into performing unpaid sexual acts with acquaintances, strangers, even dogs, for the sexual and psychological pleasure of their male partner.[li]
The subordination of wives is intertwined closely with the cultural ideologies described above. Clearly, the negative beliefs against prostitutes and even women help create a situation in which they not only lose their autonomy to their husbands and the patriarchal society, but their rights over their own bodies as well. Just as prostitutes come to accept the belief that they are unworthy, many Thai women come to accept that their husbands will visit prostitutes. Some even prefer this behavior to an adulterous affair and the possibility that their husband’s will take on a mia noi — a “minor wife.” Since prostitutes are simply considered to be another commodity to be bought and sold, the night activities of Thai men are never questioned and usually ignored.[lii] In fact, surveys of Thai university students, military officers, and young men reveal that between 60%-97% either lose their virginity to a prostitute or continue visiting prostitutes on a regular basis.[liii] Beadle describes how “for the majority of adolescent boys, their initiation into adulthood begins with a night of carousing and drinking with their buddies, and ends in the bed of a prostitute.”[liv] This phenomenon illustrates how not only do family dynamics play an essential role in prostitution, but how these actions are considered legitimate because of the ideology that supports these actions.
Changing dynamics of the family structure are also affecting the social environment for women and children. The breakdown of the extended family, the increased rate of marriage breakdown, and the separation of families for long periods due to migration for work have resulted in an increase of broken families. This has in turn exposed many children to high-risk behavior, including drug use or has increased their chances of becoming homeless or delinquent.[lv] Migration is also a key component in the spread of AIDS, as men separate from their wives to leave their homes in search of economic security but then end up finding prostitutes instead.
Another aspect closely related to family structure is the care women must provide for their children. In situations where women are left to care for numerous children and opportunities are scarce, they resort to having sex with other men and the matter is worsened when the woman is the sole provider for an extended family. In societies and cultures where fathers are missing and mainstream society rejects prostitutes, the future of half the world’s population is not promising.
- ECONOMIC FACTORS -
- Poverty: Jobs, Education, Healthcare -
Poverty is one of
the fundamental problems underlying the entrance of women into
prostitution. According to the United Nations Chronicle, “Poverty
will always remain one of the root causes for women and children to be lured
into prostitution. In
how “poverty and unemployment fuel the supply for potential victims.” According to this agency, between 70-80% of
unemployed workers in the
PART 3: THE HEALTH REPERCUSSIONS OF PROSTITUTION
- VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND PROSTITUTES -
is a violation of human rights when women are trafficked, bought and sold as
This statement, made by Hillary
Clinton, reflects the current belief held by organizations such as the World
Health Organization and the United States Agency for International
Development. However, it is essential to
note that violence against prostitutes only comes after violence against
women—that is to say, violence against a prostitute is first and foremost
violence against a woman. This
phenomenon is a global one, affecting every region, culture, nation, people,
and religion. Violence against women is
truly an international occurrence.
Consider these statistics: in the
PHYSICAL TRAUMA: RAPE, TORTURE, MURDERS, MUTILATIONS, WHIPPINGS
A survey by the Prostitution Research and
Education project interviewed 854 people currently or recently involved in
prostitution in the
describes the physical injuries and illnesses suffered by child prostitutes in
Child prostitutes are especially treated violently. Brothel owners make them work without break, steal their wages, and warn them not to leave by informing them that they will be arrested as illegal immigrants. Many are beaten for refusing to work and even the men who buy the child prostitutes become violent if they refuse to perform various sexual acts.[lxviii]
to a Canadian Report on Prostitution and Pornography, women in prostitution
have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the national average.[lxix]
One study [lxx]revealed
that 75% of women in escort prostitution had attempted suicide and prostitutes
comprise 15% of all completed suicides reported by hospitals. Seventy-eight percent of women who sought
help from the Council for Prostitution Alternatives in
Every woman in the Dignity House program (Developing Individual Growth and New Independence Through Yourself) said she had been robbed, raped, kicked, and beaten with knives, fists, guns, baseball bats, coat hangers, and boards and every girl knew someone who had been murdered while working in prostitution.[lxxii] One woman in another study offered the following graphic account:
"I’ve had three broken arms, nose broken twice, [and] I’m partially deaf in one ear….I have a small fragment of a bone floating in my head that gives me migraines. I’ve had a fractured skull. My legs ain’t worth shit no more; my toes have been broken. My feet, bottom of my feet, have been burned; they've been whopped with a hot iron and clothes hanger… the hair on my pussy had been burned off at one time…I have scars. I’ve been cut with a knife, beat with guns, two-by-fours. There hasn’t been a place on my body that hasn’t been bruised somehow, some way, some big, some small."[lxxiii]
PSYCHOLOGICAL, EMOTIONAL, MENTAL TRAUMA
same study at Kaiser Permanente mentioned above also found that two-thirds of
prostitutes suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD include anxiety, depression,
insomnia, irritability, flashbacks, and nightmares. This disorder is a psychological reaction to
exceptionally stressful events and is more commonly associated with war
veterans or those who have been involved in serious accidents. However, researchers concluded that, “The
severity of the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by the prostitutes was
comparable to that of
also suffer from high rates of drug and alcohol abuse. In the
Another factor that contributes to the mental and emotional trauma of prostitutes is their presence in a new country when they are trafficked. Here, they truly become powerless as they struggle to stay alive in a foreign land with new people and no understanding of the language or culture. The prostitutes realize that their chances of escaping are near impossible without the knowledge of the area, their lack of communication skills, and their illegal status in the country. Eliciting help from authorities would be unfeasible, first because of their lack of information on where authorities are located and the difficulty getting there, and secondly, because the authorities themselves are simply part of the system. The emotional and mental stress is exacerbated when prostitutes discover that they have been tricked and have arrived in a new country and their loved ones back home have no knowledge of their whereabouts.
The sheer number of clients prostitutes are expected to service is also a factor that results in the deterioration of the latter’s health. Strange men after men after men are given permission from some more strange men to intrude into the women’s most private, intimate, and personal being. One author describes how “The everyday life of prostitution is distant from most of us. And here, our imagination is a poor assistant. Negotiate a price with a stranger. Agree. Pull down one pant leg. Come and take me. Finished. Next, please. It becomes too ugly to really take it in. The imagination screeches to a halt."[lxxviii] The repeated exposure of women to these undignified acts undoubtedly takes a toll. The following is an account by a prostitute who describes her emotional pain.
For a great part of 1992 I lived in a beautiful apartment on Capitol Hill. I drove my expensive car. I bought lovely clothes and traveled extensively out of the country. For the first time in my 20 years as an adult woman, I paid my own way. There was no need to worry about affording my rent, my phone bill, all the debts one accumulates simply by living month to month. I felt invincible. And I was miserable to the core. I hated myself because I hated my life. All the things I came to possess meant nothing. I could not face myself in the mirror. Working in prostitution lost my soul.[lxxix]
Children who have no understanding of sex
are also forced to perform degrading acts they did not know existed. One Australian man beat and raped two Thai
girls, aged eight and eleven, in a
It comes as absolutely no surprise, then, that prostitutes strongly desire to leave this daily threat. Another study by Kaiser Permanente and the Prostitution and Research Education found that 92% of the 130 people surveyed reported that they wanted to leave prostitution but could not because of a lack of basic human services, including job training, healthcare, counseling and treatment for drug and alcohol addictions, or even a home.[lxxxi]
AIDS: A CATEGORY OF ITS OWN
threat and reality of AIDS has become a constant social force deeply
intertwined with prostitution, which has heightened the vulnerability of women,
especially prostitutes, to the dangers of this combined phenomenon. A United Nations report stated that although
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the world’s highest incidence of AIDS,
Eastern Europe and
The travel industry is a vital factor in the proliferation of HIV/AIDS and also profits immensely from prostitution, both directly and indirectly. However, Davidson writes that,
Most travel companies and airlines would, of course, be quick to distance themselves from sex tourism and to insist that it is beyond their power to affect what individual tourists choose to do while abroad. Yet tour operators typically promote travel to known sex tourist destinations by emphasizing the pleasures of the ‘nightlife’ which exists in them, and, whether these third-party beneficiaries connive with sexual exploiters by drawing attention to the ‘opportunities’ on offer or not, companies which facilitate tourism to known sex tourist resorts play a very active role in the daily reproduction of tourist-related prostitution and derive substantial profits from it.[lxxxvi]
- PART IV: COMBATTING THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF PROSTITUTION -
In addition to the URLs throughout this Chapter’s “Works Cited” list, please refer to the following list for additional resources of information on prostitution and human trafficking. An asterisk (*) next to the link indicates that opening the document requires Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader.
United Nations Global Programme Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GPAT)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Human Rights Watch: Women: Trafficking
United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
UNICEF Child Protection Information Sheet – Trafficking *
UNICEF-USA. Child Trafficking: Advocate: Take Action
- WHAT CAN BE DONE? Combating and preventing human trafficking -
Many UN agencies on a global scale have established special programs or offices to deal with the issue of trafficking, including UNICEF, the United Nations’ Women’s Fund (UNIFEM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). US and multinational organizations including USAID, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration, and the World Health Organization have also taken up the call, creating programs and funding huge projects, backed by millions of dollars, to further identify, quantify and determine ways to lessen the degree of the trafficking problem. Additionally, beyond the widespread reach of UN organizations, NGOs and local governments, nearly every single nation afflicted by trafficking – whether they are origin, transit or destination regions – have established local trafficking watchdog organizations, as well as various local agencies that disseminate anti-trafficking awareness via widespread campaigns, and work with returned trafficking victims on assuring them a smooth reintegration into their home societies.
multinational conventions like the
However, the worldwide problem of trafficking will not be fully extinguished until the underlying, large-scale factors that truly fuel it, including global poverty, the feminization of poverty, the widespread lowered values of the female, and a global demand for the sex industry, have been properly addressed. Because these issues are also at the root of a multitude of other international problems, including the degradation of the environment, urban sprawl, overpopulation, loss of natural resources, and the degradation of the Earth, it is becoming even more urgent now that these matters be recognized and addressed on a massive, globally cooperative scale.
Works Cited, URLs, and Bibliography
[i] United States Government. “Trafficking in Persons Report 2005.” Viewed 02/11/06.
[ii] United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. United Nations, New York; 2000.
[iii] UN, 2000.
[vi] UN, 2000.
[vii] UN, 2000.
[ix] UNICEF. “Child Protection – Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation.” http://www.unicef.org/protection/index_exploitation.html. Viewed 03/09/06.
[x] Forte, 2006.
[xi] UNICEF, 2006.
[xii] BBC News, Asia-Pacific. “On the Trail of a Trafficked Child.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4101567.stm. Thursday, 16 December, 2004. Viewed 03/18/06.
[xiii] Kelly, E. Journeys of Jeopardy: A Review of Research on Trafficking in Women and Children in Europe. IOM Migrant Research Series. No. 11: November 2002.
[xiv] Kelly, 2002.
[xv] Kelly, 2002.
[xvi] Advocacy Net. Network Against Trafficking Unites Civil Society in Nigeria and Italy. AdvocacyNet Newsletter. Volume 1, Issue 1; November 2001.
[xviii] European Commission, Justice and Home Affairs. Trafficking in women: the misery behind the fantasy: from poverty to sex slavery: a comprehensive European strategy. March 8, 2001.
[xix] European Commission, Justice and Home Affairs, 2001.
[xx] UN-OHCHR. Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, Article 1; 1. Adopted by a Conference of Plenipotentiaries convened by Economic and Social Council resolution 608 (XXI) of 30 April 1956. UN-OHCHR. Geneva; 7 September, 1956.
[xxi] Kaye, M. Actual conditions of human trafficking and strategies for its eradication. http://www.nkhumanrights.or.kr/NKHR_new/new_pages/sixth/documents/Session4/Mike Kaye-Session4.doc. Viewed 02/10/06.
[xxii] UN, 2000.
[xxiii] UN, 2000.
[xxiv] Doezema, J. “Now You See Her, Now You Don’t: Sex Workers at the UN Trafficking Protocol Negotiations.” Social and Legal Studies. Volume 14, No. 1, 2005: p. 61-89.
[xxv] UN, 2000.
[xxvi] Doezema, J. “Who Gets to Choose? Coercion, Consent and the UN Trafficking Protocol.” http://www.walnet.org/csis/papers/doezema-choose.htm Viewed 02/14/06.
[xxvii] Loff, B. et al. Prostitution, public health, and human-rights law. The Lancet. Volume 356, November 18, 2000: 1764.
[xxviii] Platt, L. Regulating the Global Brothel. The American Prospect. Volume 12, No. 12, July 2, 2001.
[xxix] Loff et al., 2000.
[xxx] Kelly, 2002.
[xxxi] Loff et al., 2000.
M. Social Inequality: Patterns and Processes. 3rd ed.
J. International Politics on the
[xxxiv] Rourke, 2003.
[xxxv] “Trafficking in Persons.” USAID: Combating Trafficking in Persons. 10 March 2004. United States Agency for International Development. 8 Sept. 2004 http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/cross-cutting_programs/trafficking/.
[xxxvi] “Women as Chattel: The Emerging Global Market in Trafficking.” Gender Matters Quarterly. Feb. 1999. USAID Office of Women in Development GenderReach Project.
Mikel. “Exploited, Not Educated:
Trafficking of Women and Children in
[xxxviii] “Women as Chattel: The Emerging Global Market in Trafficking.” Gender MattersQuarterly. Feb. 1999. USAID Office of Women in Development GenderReach Project.
[xxxix] “Trafficking in Persons.” USAID: Combating Trafficking in Persons. 10 March 2004. USAID. 8 Sept. 2004.
[xli] “Women as Chattel: The Emerging Global Market in Trafficking.” Gender MattersQuarterly. Feb. 1999. USAID Office of Women in Development GenderReach Project.
[xlii] “Women as Chattel: The Emerging Global Market in Trafficking.” Gender Matters Quarterly. Feb. 1999. USAID Office of Women in Development GenderReach Project.
Julia. Prostitution, Power and Freedom. The
[xliv] Davidson, 41.
[xlv] Beadle, Monique. “The Sangha and the Thai Sex Industry.” 2003. The Institute for Global Engagement. 24 Sept. 2004. http://www.globalengagement.org/issues/2003/08/sangha.htm.
Prostitution at the U.N.” 5 March
2000. Concerned Women for
[xlviii] Davidson, 39.
[xlix] Davidson, 39.
M. “Exploited, Not Educated: Trafficking of Women and Children in
[li] Davidson, 46.
[lii] Beadle, M. “The Sangha and the Thai Sex Industry.” 2003. The Institute for Global
Engagement. 24 Sept. 2004. http://www.globalengagement.org/issues/2003/08/sangha.htm.
[liii] Beadle, 2004.
[liv] Beadle, 2004.
Health and Development: Country
[lvi] Flamm, 2003.
[lvii] “Women as Chattel: The Emerging Global Market in Trafficking.” Gender Matters Quarterly. Feb. 1999. United States Agency for International Development Office of Women in Development GenderReach Project.
[lix] “Organized and Institutionalized Sexual Exploitation and Violence.” Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
Partner Violence: Fact Sheet.” 5 Aug.
2004. Centers for Disease Control and
[lxi] United States Department of Justice, 2000.
Domestic Violence in
20 Sept. 2004.
Catharine. “Prostitution and Civil
Prostitution at the U.N.” 5 March
2000. Concerned Women for
[lxvi] Kordvani, 5.
[lxvii] Davidson, 35.
[lxix] Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations.” 2 April 2000. Prostitution Research and Education. 8 Nov. 2004 . http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/factsheet.html
from Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, 1985, Pornography and
[lxx] Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations.” 2 April 2000. Prostitution Research and Education. 8 Nov. 2004 http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/factsheet.html.
Taken from Letter from Susan Kay Hunter, Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Jan 6, 1993, cited by Phyllis Chesler in "A Woman's Right to Self-Defense: the case of Aileen Carol Wuornos," in Patriarchy: Notes of an Expert Witness, 1994, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine.
[lxxi] CATW: The Factbook on Global Exploitation: United States.
[lxxii] CATW: The Factbook on Global Exploitation: United States.
[lxxiii] Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations.” 2 April 2000. Prostitution Research and Education. 8 Nov. 2004 .
Taken from Giobbe, E. (1992) Juvenile Prostitution: Profile of Recruitment in Ann W. Burgess (ed.) Child Trauma: Issues & Research.Garland Publishing Inc, New York, page 126.
[lxxv] CATW: The Factbook on Global Exploitation: United States.
[lxxvi] CATW: The Factbook on Global Exploitation: United States.
[lxxvii] CATW: The Factbook on Global Exploitation: United States
[lxxviii] Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations.” 2 April 2000. Prostitution Research and Education. 8 Nov. 2004 http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/factsheet.html.
from Cecilie Hoigard and Liv Finstad, Backstreets: Prostitution, Money, and
Love, 1992, translated by Katherine Hanson, Nancy Sipe, and Barbara Wilson;
first published as Bakgater in
[lxxix] Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations.” 2 April 2000. Prostitution Research and Education. 8 Nov. 2004. http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/factsheet.html.
from Survivor interviewed by Debra Boyer, Lynn Chapman and Brent Marshall in
Survival Sex in
[lxxxi] CATW: The Factbook on Global Exploitation: United States
Ellen. “Record Numbers Infected with
HIV: U.N. Cites Rapid Rise in Asia and
Ellen. “Record Numbers Infected with
HIV: U.N. Cites Rapid Rise in Asia and
[lxxxvi] Davidson, 86.