Trafficking in Women: A Threat to International Security
The World Watch Institute, as well as others, has declared violence against women and girls among the most common human rights violation on Earth. Yet one of its most striking forms – Internationally organized prostitution, often goes unrecognized. Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, is a modern day from of slavery that is prevalent throughout the world, and like other international crime has global consequences. Traffickers in women and children, much like terrorists and narcotics traffickers, operate boldly across sovereign borders. The trafficking industry World- wide also is closely intertwined with other related criminal activities, such as extortion, racketeering, money laundering, the bribery of public officials, drug use, and gambling. The purpose of this paper will be to investigate the nature of internationally organized prostitution using isolated country case studies as examples, then to address the causes and consequences of trafficking, while finally arriving at a discussion of the fundamental policy implications it poses for the international community. Combating trafficking requires a coordinated effort between countries of origin, transit, and destination due to its transnational character, meaning isolated country policies will not be enough to stop this threat to international security.
Throughout the world, millions of girls and women who do not voluntarily choose to become prostitutes, but are either duped, kidnapped, raped, coerced, or sold outright and are becoming members of the modern day slave trade. Traffickers have taken advantage of the unequal status of women and girls in source and transit countries, including harmful stereotypes of women as property, commodities, servants, and sexual objects. To the traffickers people are highly profitable, low risk, expendable, reusable, and re-sellable commodities. As well, whereas ventures such as drug smuggling or trafficking reap only short-term monetary gain, trafficking people takes advantage of exploitation for long-term economic gain. Organized crime groups profit from both the trafficking fees and the trafficked person’s labor.
Traffickers begin their journey by scouring train stations, poor villages, and urban streets looking for young girls and women who look vulnerable. Most women in city brothels come from small rural villages where agricultural development policies have pushed many families off their land into poverty. Brothel agents visit the villages where they induce parents to bond their daughters to the brothels in exchange for cash. Additional inducements may include refrigerators, televisions, jewelry, which are often offered for virgins under the age of 17. Once in a brothel she is in “indentured servitude”, she must earn back her debt which includes the money that was exchanged for her “purchase”. As well, money is deducted from days lost due to illness, menstruation, and turning away a customer who refuses to wear a condom. She may never see any of the money she earns but may work her entire life trying to pay off her debt. If a women gets pregnant or is stricken with AIDS she may be sent home with nothing more then bus fare. Once at home, because of the shame she was trapped into she often has little chance of being accepted back into her family.
pattern of recruitment is common to the collapsed communist regimes of Central
and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet states, and
estimates that 300,000 women a year are smuggled into the EU and more wealthy
central European countries. There are
around 20,000 women in 600 or so brothels in the
to the international organization for migration, the number of women shipped to
Western Europe from Central and
be noted that the fall of the Iron Curtain is a main contributing factor to the
current situation, as history tells of a
the breakup of the
organized prostitution is so prevalent in
Internationally organized prostitution depends on a combination of third world poverty, first world economic policies, lays that permit International trafficking, and worldwide patriarchal cultural norms. Throughout history patriarchy has valued women not as persons but as things, pieces of property to be bought and sold. What are the implications of Internationally organized prostitution? There is much evidence to suggest that it is women who have held communities together and that it is through women that cultures are developed, sustained and passed down to the next generation. So what are the implications when societies are snipped of so many of their women? The very fabric of life begins to disintegrate: after a while, it doesn’t take much to be able to sell off the children as well.
trafficking of women does not exclude itself from
Pope and Margret Loftus, in their article, “Trafficking in Women”, describe an
undercover operation done by Steven Gallster and
Gillian Caldwell of the Global Survival Network. They were able to infiltrate sex-trade
operations by posing as American Business partners trying to import Russian
women to the
It is useful to treat the EU as an
example to look towards, as although there is a general lack of Union action
towards social policy, the EU does give a relatively great amount of attention
to "women’s issues”. Also, with the
large migration of women being transported into the EU as sex workers, the EU
is in a position to set an example for the rest of the world in combating the
trafficking of women. Also, the history
of EC/EU attention to women’s conferences on the subject has been quite
remarkable. The first European workshop
significant to community action was held in
The European Conference of Trafficking in Women, held in Vienna, 1996, led to the 1996 Communication from the European Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Trafficking in Women for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation. The document outlines a framework for a European approach to trafficking that is deeply influenced by feminist positions on the issue. As a direct result of the Conference, legislation had been developed through the European Parliament. The mandate of the Europol Drugs unit had been expanded to include “the combating of trafficking in human beings”, rendering it the primary intelligence gathering agency responsible for monitoring the situation. Most of the legislative measures that have been brought forth focus on the coordination of Judicial response among member states including the basic dictate that all EU states must declare the trafficking in human beings illegal.
The 1996 Commission Communication aims to promote a coherent European approach to trafficking specifically by recommending a common definition of the problem and soliciting member states to coordinate efforts to combat the problem. The Communication defines trafficking as “the transport of women from 3rd countries in the EU for the purpose of Sexual Exploitation.”
The EU’s most recent formal policy on the issue is the 1997 Joint Action to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Exploitation of Children. It focuses on establishing common rules to “fight against certain forms of unauthorized immigration”, and to improve judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The main recommendation for member states is to define trafficking along EU lines, with further criminalization of “sexual exploiting a person…for gainful purposes, where use is made of coercion, in particular violence or threats, or where deceit is used, or where there is abuse of authority or other pressure such that the person has no choice to submit to the pressure of abuse of authority.”
The next major EU document was the Commission’s 1998 Communication to the Council and the European Parliament proposing further action in the fight against trafficking in women. It serves mostly as a report on the status of EU measures on trafficking since 1996. It also encourages member states to provide protection for witnesses since, “witnesses are often in an illegal situation” and announces that the Commission will Propose legislation, in 1999, on the issue of temporary residence permits for victims willing to testify. The Communication also recognizes that poverty is the root cause, and that development in cooperation with impoverished states would be the best way to stem the trafficking of women. It suggests that programs such as PHARE, TACIS, and LIEN should adopt the objective of combating trafficking, as well as its current aims of promoting women’s rights, democratic principles and the development of civil society in source countries. However, while these factors contribute to the root causes of trafficking, they do not engage directly with poverty, which leaves major inadequacies in the Communication.
The STOP (Sexual Trafficking of Persons) program is a non-legal measure developed by the EU. It aims to educate women who may become involved in trafficking prostitution as to the dangers and the legality/illegality of all aspects involved. It establishes a framework for information training, research, and exchanges for police, immigration officials, judges, etc., on trafficking. “Trafficking is problematic for governments and states because it challenges the sovereignty of their borders, thereby undermining state authority and posing a host of domestic problems such as unemployment issues, prostitution regulation, or possible ethnic strife if large pockets of cultural/ethnic minorities establish in a receiving state”.
torn Kosovo, trafficking has become big business. At the end of the NATO air strikes against
Yugoslav forces in 1999, peacekeepers and UN administrators were faced with the
overwhelming task of stabilizing and rebuilding Kosovo. But with the justice and policing system
destroyed, it was almost impossible to control the rise in crime. Gordon Moon, a Canadian detective from
Up until January 2001, criminals caught by the anti-trafficking squad faced only a few days in jail and minor interruption of business. But Bernard Kouchner, former head of the UN administration in Kosovo, introduced new trafficking regulations that have turned sentence of days into years, and allowed police to permanently close the bars and brothels. “In a month since the new regulations came into effect, more then 10 men arrested for trafficking are awaiting trail, and some of the most notorious hot spots are empty and shuttered.” But the traffickers are relentless, as the industry is highly profitable. Estimates have been made that Kosovo’s 75 bars, dance halls and brothels take in more then $1.5 million per week. Moon and his squad have urged military and international officials to make all trafficking sites off limits to their staff. Some have agreed, but others are reluctant to make such restrictions. “It’s really amazing to me that people from countries who are supposed to be setting an example here should engage in such behavior” says Moon. After the air strikes ended traffickers immediately saw their chance to expand their trafficking operations into a zone where thousands of well-paid soldiers and international personnel were seen as prospective clients. What does this say about Western military operations? Should they not be held accountable for such actions, and have a mandate of social responsibility when it comes to helping these war torn areas?
also comments on the ethnic hatred “in the region, we’re aware of how much hatred
there is between Serbs and Albanians, but in organized crime they cooperate
without any problems. It’s big business,
and it’s completely unaffected by the political situation.”
Moon also identifies the kingpins of the trafficking ring in Kosovo as Serbs
who were once allies with Yugoslav leader Slobo
Milosevic. So although the new
President, Vojislav Kostunica, is trying to change the situation, there are
still a lot of Milosevic allies in powerful positions, and so far there hasn’t
been any change in the organized crime situation. Working with ethnic
Albanian allies, the Serb’s buy women from East European traffickers. Sixty five percent of the women are from
organization for security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has provided support
for victims released by UN police and NATO led peacekeepers. Rolf Welberts, the
OSCE human rights director in Kosovo, says that the conditions in Kosovo are
ideal for international traffickers. “A
post-war society is always an unstable society.
And unstable societies leave more room for crime – also for organized
crime – then most stable societies. In
the situation we live in here, it is simply easier to organize crime and
trafficking in women then it is elsewhere.
The demand is certainly here. The
other issue is, of course, the large presence of internationals.” Again Welbert
emphasizes the role of foreign soldiers and aid workers. He pointed out that the same phenomenon
that because of the weak or corrupt policing systems in poor, war torn
countries such as Kosovo, a better alternative may come from the International
Community. In December 2000, 148
countries gathered in
The Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, addresses the problem on a transnational level. It creates a global language and legislation to define trafficking, and prevent trafficking in persons. It also establishes the parameters of judicial cooperation and exchanges of information among countries. The protocol aims to accomplish what national legislation cannot do on its own, however it does intend to jump start national laws as well as harmonize regional legislation against the trafficking of women and children.
conclusion, not only does the trafficking of women and children involve sexual
exploitation, but also labor exploitation, as the
conditions are akin to slavery. Trafficking is a structural ailment, which is
woven into the socio-economic fabric of our society. This poses an overwhelming task to government
officials, law enforcement officers and NGO’s trying
to combat this pervasive threat to International Security. Although the trafficking of
human beings has been a problem for quite some time, as it was first recognized
internationally by the UN in 1949.
One of the most striking factors of modern concern is the huge amount of
trafficked women coming from Central and
“Ending the Global Sex Trade.” Christian Science Monitor 93, January 2000:1-3.
Barri R. The Prostitution of Women and Girls.
And Company, 1998: 165-195.
“In the Shadows.” Economist 356, August 2000: 1-4.
Justice and Home Affairs. “Trafficking in Women: The Misery Behind the Fantasy:
From Poverty to Sex Slavery.” Comprehensive European Strategy. August 2002.
Kells, Robin Stacey. Trafficking
Leuchtag, Alice. “Merchants of Flesh.” Humanist 55, March/April 1995: 1-12.
Health Weekly, June 1996: 1-3.
Mirkinson, Judith. “The Global Trade in
O’Beirne, Kate. “Of Human Bondage.” National Review 54, March 2002: 1-4.
Poolos, Alexandra. “Sex Slave Trade Becomes Serious Problem.” Ukrainian Research
Project. May 19, 2000.
Pope, Victoria and Margret Loftus. “Trafficking in Women.” US News & World Report
122, August 1997: 1-7.
Raymond, Janice. “Guide to the New UN Trafficking Protocol.” Coalition Against
Trafficking in Women. June 2001.
Programs. August 2002.
Olivia. “Canadian Detective on
Women Freed from Captivity in Past 9 Months.” Ukrainian Research Project.
February 23, 2001.
 US Department of State. “Trafficking: The Global Nexus.” International Information Programs. August
 Leuchtag, Alice. “Merchants of Flesh.” Humanist 55, March/April 1995: 2.
 US Department of State, Trafficking: The Global Nexus, p.1.
 Leuchtag, Merchants of Flesh, p.2.
 “In the Shadows.” Economist 356, August 2000: 2.
 Marble, Michelle. “
June 1996: 2.
 Leuchtag, Merchants of Flesh, p.9.
 Ibid. p.10.
 Flowers, Barri R. The Prostitution of
Women and Girls.
 Ibid. p.180.
 Leuchtag, Merchants of Flesh, p.4.
 Flowers, The Prostitution of Women and Girls, p.180.
 Leuchtag, Merchants of Flesh, p.6.
 Flowers, The Prostitution of Women and Girls, p.181.
 Leuchtag, Merchants of Flesh, p.6
 Mirkinson, Judith. “The Global Sex Trade in Women.”
 Pope, Victoria and Margret Loftus. “Trafficking in Women.” US News & World Report 122, August
 Ibid. p.3.
 Ibid. p.4.
 Ibid. p.5.
 Marble, Europe Urged to Curb Sexual Exploitation of Women, p.1
 Kells, Robin Stacey. Trafficking the
 Ibid. p.57.
 Ibid. p.58.
 Ibid. p.59
 Ibid. p.60
 Ibid. p.61
 Justice and Home Affairs. “Trafficking in Women: The Misery Behind the Fantasy: from poverty to sex
slavery.” Comprehensive European Strategy. August 2002: 8.
 Kells, Trafficking the Union, p.73.
 Justice and Home Affairs, Trafficking in Women, p.12.
 Kells, Trafficking the Union, p.80.
 Ward, Olivia. “Canadian Detective on
European Bureau. <http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/ukraine/kosovoslaves.htm>
 Ibid. p.3.
 Poolos, Alexandra. “Sex Slave Trade Becomes a Serious Problem.” RFE.RL. May 19, 2000: 1.
 Raymond, Janice. “Guide to the New UN Trafficking Protocol.” Coalition Against Trafficking in
Women. June 2001: 1.