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The Political Debates on Prostitution and Trafficking of Women

Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society , Volume 12 (1) – Jan 1, 2005


Oxford University Press
Copyright © 2005 Oxford University Press
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The Political Debates on Prostitution and Trafficking of Women


JOYCE States have traditionally tried to curb prostitution for a variety of reasons, such as preserving morals, maintaining public order, containing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or to protect women from sexual exploitation. The early 1970s witnessed the rise of a vastly expanding sex industry, and soon evidence emerged that women were being brought from developing countries to provide sexual services for male clients in the affluent Western nations. Since then—partly due to improved transportation and communication networks—migration and trafficking have grown immensely on a worldwide scale. It has led to a different composition of the sex work labor market in the West and has renewed interest in women being trafficked from the poorer countries to provide these services. By the mid-1980s, trafficking and prostitution were back on the political agenda of many states and supranational institutions, such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU). These developments have led to widespread and often ferocious debate about the nature of prostitution and its relationship to trafficking—recruiting and transporting women across national borders for work or services by means of violence or threat or abuse of authority or other forms of coercion. Prostitution usually refers
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