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Preventing Sex Trafficking

and Re-Trafficking of Women

in Ukraine and Thailand

Name of Student: Angie Ng

Student Number: 12468162
Title of Course: MA International Community Development
Date of Submission: 24 August 2010

This Dissertation is submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the award of

MA International Community Development.


2. 1 Global Policies

In December 2000, more than 80 countries adopted the Protocol to Prevent,

Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,

which included the first-ever legal definition of trafficking: “the buying,

selling, and movement of persons within or between countries through a

range of means such as coercion and deception, for the express

purpose of exploiting them” (Gallagher, 2006:142).

In response to the passing of this Protocol, from 2003 to 2008, the number of

countries having anti-trafficking laws more than doubled to 98 (UNODC,

2009). However, these laws must be enforced in order for them to be

affective. It appears that not enough is being done to fight trafficking as,

according to the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking

(UNIAP), traffickers made $31 billion in 2008 while the equivalent of only 0.5%

of that amount was spent globally to combat human trafficking (2010).

There are no accurate human trafficking figures, because it is a clandestine,

criminal activity (UNDP, 2009), but sex trafficking is the form most commonly

identified (ibid and INTERPOL, 2010). The United Nations Development

Programme (UNDP) estimates that this form of trafficking could constitute as

high as 80% of all trafficking cases (2009: 66).

2.2 Current Knowledge

2.2.1 Sex Trafficking

As the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

(UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa believes, trafficking needs to be thought of as,

not a transaction, but enslavement, exploitation of people on a daily basis for

years (UNODC, 2009). Trafficking is sometimes incorrectly confused with

being migrant smuggling, but while the latter implies only the obtaining of

illegal entry into a region and may play a part in trafficking (INTERPOL, 2009),

trafficking itself is actually slavery entailing restrictions of human freedom and

violations of basic human rights (UNDP, 2009). 77% of the women trafficking

victims Zimmerman (2006) interviewed reported that they were never free,

and 95% reported experiencing either physical or sexual violence, including

but not limited to water boarding and severe beatings. A variety of violence

regularly occurs in the sex industry, and prostitution can be seen as a form of

sexual violence that results in financial profit for those who sell other humans

(Farley et al, 2003). In some cases, prostitution and trafficking can both

appear voluntary from an outsider’s perspective, but there is a lack of physical

safety, equal power with customers and real alternatives, which are necessary

for genuine consent to be possible (Mackinnon, 1993, and Hernandez, 2001,

as quoted in Farley et al., 2003). Indeed, some argue that 'prostitution is

never a choice (Bindel, 2006, as quoted in Shdaimah, 2010).

Whether or not a women accepts a job offer to migrate that eventually leads to

her being trafficked partially depends on who presents this offer (Zimmerman,

2006). Trafficking victims usually are lured into traps by people they trust, and

as there are many women who do obtain real jobs after migrating, the women

do not believe that they will be unlucky enough to end up being one of the

one’s being trafficked (ibid).

Trafficking also results in loss of remittances to developing countries, because

instead of sending money home, victims must pay off 'debts' to traffickers and

brothel owners for example (Asian Development Bank as quoted in Laczko

and Danailova-Trainor, 2009). While the women usually end up with nothing,

money made by traffickers is laundered away from communities (Pyshchulina,

2002). As victims of trafficking are more exposed to HIV, the effect of HIV on

human development must also be considered (Laczko and Danailova-Trainor,


2.2.2 The Causes of Trafficking and Re-Trafficking

According to Padre Cesare as quoted in Bastone (2007: 188), the causes of

trafficking are the following: “First, poverty; second, the john who drives

demand; and finally, the trafficker.” Below is a look at these three factors.

4 Supply – the women Trafficking:

The increase in poverty and insecurity caused by global economic

development has forced people to leave their villages for neighbouring towns

and cities (Banerjee, 2006), many falling prey to traffickers' false promises;

globalisation has amplified the factors that force migrants to leave their homes

to seek livelihoods elsewhere (INTERPOL, 2009). According to the U.S.

Department of State, traffickers prey on the vulnerability of those hurt most by

modernisation (2007). Three quarter of the women interviewed by Farley et al

‘s study in nine countries (2003) mentioned that they needed secure housing

and job training. In Shdaimah’s work in the United States (2010), there was

an extreme need for housing, jobs, healthcare, protection from abuse and

medication. Indeed, data from the International Organization for Migration

(IOM) database indicates that the perception of being very poor was a large

factor in trafficking (Laczko and Danailova-Trainor, 2009).

In addition to poverty and economic development that has destroyed

livelihoods, other root causes are sexual inequality, racism, colonialism and

sex tourism (Farley et al, 2003). Women experience much more family

pressure to migrate in order to send home remittances (Yamada, 2007), and

this pressure is considered a main vulnerability factor in Kiryan and van der

Linden’s study (2005). In addition, studies such as Zimmerman (2006) have

reported that of the victims who have children, a large majority of them are

single parents, increasing the financial pressure on them tremendously. In

terms of racism, sex trafficking is a product of the power and racism that is

prevalent in mainstream Western culture (Davidson, 2000 as cited in Ryan

and Hall, 2001), and at the same time, a product of racism against minority

ethnic groups in general - since young women from minority ethnic groups

experience acute labour market exclusion, it is believed they represent the

largest population of those trafficked (UNDP, 2009: 66). Indigenous women,

who face race, sex and class discrimination around the world, are trafficked

from rural to urban areas (Farley et al, 2003). Re-trafficking:

Surprisingly, most victims decline assistance – this is because the underlying

reason they were susceptible to being trafficked in the first place has not

disappeared, such as poverty, and this makes them likely to be re-trafficked

(Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007, and Lisborg, 2009). Entering a rehabilitation

and re-integration programme would mean wasting time a woman could be

using to earn money to support her family (Lisborg, 2009), and many do not

want to return home without having earned any money (Limanowska, 2002,

2003, 2004, as quoted in Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007). Indeed, in an

International Labour Organisation (ILO) study of Thailand and the Philippines,

Lisborg (2009) found that there is a lack of long-term, community-based

integration programmes which provide real livelihood alternatives, both in the

place of origin and the place of destination, and there is a need for

programmes which empower victims, allowing them to make informed choices

which are economically viable. As a result of political, social and economic

domination, there is a culture of silence, which has led to the victim's

passively accepting her situation (Ledwith, 2005) – the victim has become so

exploited by those more powerful than she sees no option for survival other

than to endure her suffering. The reality on the ground is that some women

and the communities that depend on them are in desperate financial

situations, struggling to stay alive, and unless they receive help in this area,

they will end up being silently re-trafficked.

Related to this, there has been a trend in women claiming to be voluntarily

working as prostitutes rather than be identified as trafficking victims

(Limanowska, 2002, 2003, 2004, as quoted in Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007).

Aside from the aforementioned financial reasons, there are also other factors

involved, such as the following: they did not trust the police; they were

suspicious of the organisation and/or did not understand the programme;

and/or they did not want to return to their countries (Limanowska, 2002, 2003,

2004, as quoted in Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007). These are also related to

the culture of silence referred to in the paragraph above and result from the

victims' experiences of being dominated on many levels. In slavery, they learn

not to trust anyone (Armstrong, 2008), so when an organisation offers to help

them, they are unsure of its motivations; therefore, it is important to provide

adequate information to victims and build trust with them (Brunovskis and

Surtees, 2007). In places where corruption is rampant, police are known to

take payments from slave-holders and return victims who have escaped

(Armstrong, 2008), and this can further contribute to the victims' mistrust.

Another reason is that many victims simply do not want anyone to know that

they were trafficked, trying to protect their families and themselves from social

stigmatization (Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007). At the same time, it has been

recognized that the majority of victims return with Post-Traumatic Stress

Disorder making them psychologically unfit to make decisions, and

Zimmerman recommends that they should be given 90 days to recover before

deciding whether or not to work with organisations and whether or not to go

home (2006). Lisborg (2009) also recommends that victims be given access

to programmes when they are ready, as many who initially decline assistance

realise later that they actually need it. Other, trafficker-related reasons why

victims decline assistance are in, but the bottom line is that too many

women come out of the trafficking situation and have to deal with it alone,

leading many to be re-trafficked. Demand – the ‘johns’/customers

According to the rules of economics, if men stopped buying sex bringing the

demand for it down to zero, the whole sex trafficking 'industry' would stop.

Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of State (2007), this criminal

phenomenon could not exist without the increase in demand for commercial

sex around the world, especially in areas in which prostitution is tolerated.

Currently, as the author has observed, men are often taught that they have

needs and have the right to fulfil these needs using people of the other

gender. These sex customers, also known as 'johns', should also be targets

of behavioural change (Shdaimah, 2010). Without a lowering of demand, sex

trafficking continues to grow despite policy changes, illustrating an interaction

between sexism and class discrimination; the sacrifice of lower class women

is seen as necessary for the preservation of the physical integrity of the

women of higher classes (Kristof and WuDunn, 2009). Those concerned with

human rights abuses argue that the normalisation of sex trafficking and

prostitution as inevitable social ills that are acceptable, as long as people from

higher class families do not see it, must be fought (Farley et al, 2003). One

example of an effort to do this was the national poster campaign by Thailand's

National Commission on Women's Affairs - it tried to change male sexual

norms through messages such as that of a child saying that her father does

not visit prostitutes (, 2010). Slave Traders – the traffickers

Whether the traffickers are organized crime syndicates or local groups, they

are people looking to make a large profit on the suffering of their victims. As

mentioned above, various forms of discrimination exist in sex trafficking, and

traffickers see these women as dispensable consumer items, objects to be

bought and sold.

Contact is either initiated by the trafficker, such as through a network of

personal contacts or by establishing himself/herself as a romantic interest or

good friend, or by the victims through her responding to a job posting (IOM,

2007). Trafficking victims may have been fully or partially deceived about the

nature of the work, the conditions and/or the wage/salary (ibid). In addition to

deceiving victims with job offers, they also use promises of a better life

through marriage or educational opportunities (US Department of State,


The most common form of control is 'debt bondage', the exploitation of people

who have taken small loans while giving them little or no chance to pay these

loans off and retaining their earnings, is the most common form of slavery

(Armstrong, 2008; Human Rights Watch as quoted in Sulaimanova, 2003; and

IOM, 2008). Trafficked women who do not comply are treated with much

violence including murder, and the European Police Office (EUROPOL)

believes that many bodies are never even found (Sulaimanova, 2003).

Unless charges have been pressed against a trafficker, being physically

removed from a trafficker does not mean that a woman’s situation has

changed (Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007). Both she and her family members

could face severe retribution if she cooperated with the police or a non-

government organisation (NGO) (ibid); this is one of the reasons many women

believed to be trafficking victims claim they have chosen to work as prostitutes

(Limanowska, 2002, 2003, 2004, as quoted in Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007).

After being rescued, she may just be re-trafficked by the same trafficker and

forced to add these new transportation charges onto her existing 'debt'

(Brunovskis and Surtees, 2007).

2.2.3 Prevention: A Development Issue

According to the United Nations Inter-Agency Programme (UNIAP), there are

four levels of counter-trafficking, also known as the 4 P’s - these are Policy

and Cooperation; Prevention; Prosecution; and Protection, Recovery and

Reintegration (UNIAP, 2009). Here, this research will look at prevention.

In order to put an end to sex trafficking and re-trafficking, the supply, demand

and traffickers must be tackled together (Prets, 2004). On the supply side,

preventative measures should address the most vulnerable groups by

improving their opportunities for training and employment and fighting

discrimination (ibid). Organisations should also take note of Lisborg's advice

and provide victims with flexible support with the option for women to only

participate in services they feel necessary for themselves in addition to

training that will lead to jobs, not just 'training for the sake of training' (2009:

2). Increasing a woman’s ability to say No to traffickers is important (UNDP,

2009: 66) – how can a woman say No when she does not have any other

options for survival? Awareness raising campaigns alerting women to the

potential dangers and consequences, strategies used by traffickers and how

to get help are also necessary (Prets, 2004). With regards to the demand

side, it should be addressed with awareness raising in order to generate

discussion about the issue and law enforcement (ibid); indeed, sex trafficking

can only exist when there is public, professional and academic indifference

(Farley et al, 2003). This complacency, which allows the most vulnerable

members to be exploited for the benefit of the powerful (Ledwith, 2005), needs

to be fought. In order to stop traffickers, an end to corruption and proper law

enforcement of policies is necessary (Prets, 2004).

Much of current research on human trafficking is written in light of

Criminology, viewing trafficked women as victims; however, it is a complex

development issue concerning humans with rights and needs to be written

about in such a light (Laczko and Danailova-Trainor, 2009). According to the

Routine Activities Theory used in Criminology, predatory crime is more likely

to occur when three components are present: the availability of suitable

victims, the absence of capable guardians and the presence of motivated

offenders (Siegel, 2003, as quoted in Broderick, 2005). While the availability

of some capable guardians, such as police and closed-circuit televisions (UK

Home Office, 2010), falls within the realm of criminology; factors which make

victims vulnerable in the first place and those which cause them to be

unprotected by capable guardians, such as when parents encourage or at

least do not prevent migration or when the community believes women are

more dispensable than men, require the intervention of development workers.

The concepts of both trafficking and development are broad and complex,

making the relationship between the two extremely complex and

multidimensional (Laczko and Danailova-Trainor, 2009). Poverty and lack of

economic opportunity have been identified as root causes of trafficking

(, and the UNDP considers trafficking to be both a

human rights issue and a development issue (UNDP, 2003 as quoted in

Laczko and Danailova-Trainor, 2009). To further emphasize that this is a

development issue, it has been reported that women are dying while waiting

to gain access to services in order to leave prostitution (Ford, 2008, as quoted

in Shdaimah, 2010). Indeed, trafficking is a humanitarian problem that

requires cooperation on global, regional and local levels (Prets, 2004).

Preventative strategies should be based on cooperation between civil society

organizations and law enforcement (ibid). There is no simple solution, and

this global problem requires global partnership using the Millennium

Development Goals as a road-map (ibid).

This dissertation was submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the MA in

International Community Development, jointly delivered by the University of

Westminster and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and it

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