Human trafficking

Authored by: Kathryn Farr

Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415779722
eBook ISBN: 9780203863299
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183493


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Every year millions of people are trafficked within and across national borders for commercial sex and forced labor. Their exploitation is organized and managed by an ever-growing trafficking industry that brings in high profits at relatively low risk. Like other business operations, the human trafficking industry depends on an accessible supply, an efficient marketing system, and high demand. Conditions were near-perfect for meeting these requirements with the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Widespread joblessness and service cutbacks left many women in the region without the income or aid to support themselves and their children. State failure was accompanied by a breakdown in law and order that allowed established Soviet crime groups—many of whom already trafficked weapons, alcohol, cigarettes, and other products—to gain an even stronger foothold. Such groups, along with newer entrepreneurs, saw in the increasingly desperate female population a sizeable source for high-demand sex markets in nearby countries. In short time, a lucrative trafficking industry evolved in the region, and women from the former Soviet republics were dispersed in formidable numbers into sex markets to the west in Europe and the Middle East, and to the east in Japan and elsewhere.

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