Sex Trafficking Case Study

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Heather Smith, Sex Trafficking: Trends, Challenges and Limitations of International Law
In her article Heather Smith argues that although international law has been introduced to try to eliminate human trafficking there is disproportional addressing of the issues at hand that has left a door open to allow sex trafficking to continue.
Smith begins by asking where we draw the line between voluntary and coerced migrants, who might have initially agreed to cross a border extra legally, but is then subject to much different circumstances than those that were promised, marking the argument for modern slavery. Smith goes on to compare today’s trafficking victims to the modern version of slavery. She puts forward that the definition of slavery, rather
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There have been efforts on the international scale to extend the definition of slavery beyond legal ownership, but this idea is still consciously resisted by some states.
In her article, Smith focuses on the transnational sex trafficking victims, who make up a growing percentage of the world’s growing human trafficking victims. In 2008, the International Labour Organization estimated that 12.3 million people were forced laborers, bonded laborers, or sex trafficking victims (of those 1.39 million are commercial sex slaves, with approximately 98% of those people woman or girls). One of the reasons that sex trafficking is on the rise is that trafficked sex slaves are the single most profitable type of slave, costing an average $1,895, but each generating an average $29,210 annually. Globalization has also played a part in making sex trafficking more profitable, as globalization increases transportation cost go down, only encouraging the trend. Another reason Smith focuses her attention on sex slave/sex trafficking is that unlike other forms of modern
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On the political level, in the past governments had been reluctant to even collect data on the subject as it involved such fundamental rights violations, but the Palermo Protocol in 2000 passed by the UN is beginning to lift the veil on the subject. Governments also face the challenge that women may not be coming forward because they are unable or even unwilling to report the abuse to police as it deals with the most intimate and some of the most discomforting human behavior. The US has tried to incentivize the reporting of human trafficking violations, in that those who receive foreign aid from the US have to make attempt to limit trafficking. Another reason that sex trafficking is underreported is that for some states “sex tourism” makes up a significant share of their GDP (between 1993 and 1995 the ILO estimated that between 2 and 14% of the Indonesian, Philippine, Malaysian, and Thai GDPs were earned through sex tourism). Or, like in Italy and India, law enforcement authorities may be collecting bribes from pimps and madams or patronizing trafficking victims themselves, leading to underreporting. Smith also acknowledges the empirical challenges associated with sex trafficking studies, as data collection can lead to large discrepancies in the number of victims throughout the world. It is hard to gauge accurately just how many are being subjected to sex

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