The Dynamics of Orientalism and Globalization in the International Sex Industry and Human Trafficking

Topics: Human trafficking, Prostitution, Slavery Pages: 10 (3392 words) Published: April 13, 2009
The Dynamics of Orientalism and Globalization in the International Sex Industry and Human Trafficking
Global human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery. Human trafficking refers to the movement of persons across borders for forced labor, sexual exploitation or other illicit activities. Sex trafficking is the most lucrative sector of human trafficking (Polaris Project, 2003). Women smuggled into the U.S come primarily from Latin America, Southeast Asia, East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Russia. The global political economy, political corruption, human rights, gender and ethnic stratification, and migration are all related to human trafficking.

Human trafficking is strongly connected to the complex economic processes of globalization. In many developing countries globalization has brought masses of wealth to the elite at the expense of the poor. Consequently, many women of the poorer classes leave their homelands to find opportunities for employment. These women are disproportionately affected by poverty, lack of access to education, discrimination, racism, and lack of economic opportunities.

International migration is an important aspect of sex trafficking. Manuel Castells acknowledges that economies throughout the world have become globally interdependent (1996). While migration has always been a part of human existence it now exists as a more profitable network. We are living in a networked society in which globalization encourages the free movement of capital, the opening of borders for trade, and deregulation to facilitate increased trade. This makes it easier to transport goods, including human beings. Technological transformations have decreased the cost of travel and communication, increasing the number of networks and the ease of information flows. Trafficking humans is so profitable because unlike drugs, one person can be sold over and over. These are some reasons why human trafficking is the fastest growing and third largest criminal industry in the world (Polaris Project 2003). Kevin Bales’ book, “Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy,” describes people in such conditions who endure modern forms of slavery, including sex slavery. The life narrative of a Thai girl named Siri, as told to Bales, illustrates how sex slavery happens to vulnerable girls and women. Siri was born in Thailand to a poor farming family. Under the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the Thai government has taken former government subsidies away from rice farmers, leaving them to compete against imported, subsidized rice in a globalized economy (Bales 1999). Siri’s family could not make a decent living under these neo-liberal economic policies. When Siri was fourteen years old, her parents sold her to a woman who had promised to find her a “good job”. The woman then sold her to a brothel for $4,000, leaving Siri to pay the debt. She was initiated into prostitution by the pimp who raped her. Siri was strong-willed and resisted this oppression. After being abused by her first customer, she ran away. Unfortunately, a police officer brought her back. The pimp beat her and her debt was double from $4,000 to $8,000. Upon realizing that she would never be able to get out of debt, Siri stopped running away and tried to build a relationship with the pimp simply in order to survive. Siri’s story illustrates the complicated dynamics of sex trafficking. Prostitution and sex work in general has become part of the global economy (Truong 1996). Some women choose to go into the sex industry while others are deceived or forced into it. Human trafficking networks usually use deception, coercion, or force to push women into sexual slavery. Some women migrate with the knowledge that they will be doing sex work while others are told they will be given legal jobs such as working as secretaries or housekeepers. Women often migrate with the intention of...

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Kyle, David, Rey Koslowski, ed. Global Human Smuggling : Comparative Perspectives
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