Sexual slavery

Sexual slavery

Sexual slavery refers to the organised coercion of persons into various different sexual practices:
# forced prostitution
# single-owner sexual slavery
# ritual slavery, sometimes associated with traditional religious practices
# slavery for primarily non-sexual purposes where sex is common or permissible

In general, the nature of slavery means that the slave is "de facto" available for sex, and ordinary social conventions and legal protections that would otherwise constrain an owner's actions are not effective. For example, extra-marital sex between a married man and a slave was not considered adultery in most societies that accepted slavery. [ [ Love and Sex and Women in the Art of Ancient Greece] ] Female slaves are at highest risk of sexual abuse and sexual slavery.

The term "sex slave" and "consensual sexual slavery" are sometimes used in BDSM to refer to a consensual agreement between sexual partners (see also total power exchange). This should not be confused with the meaning of the term as defined in this article, which refers specifically to unwilling slavery.

Forced prostitution

Forced prostitution is a form of sexual slavery that is considered more profitable than the drug trade and arms trade. [] Often the "owners" of these people will confiscate passports and/or money in order to make them completely dependent. This practice, also known as "sex trafficking" or "human trafficking," is illegal in most countries.

Human trafficking is not the same as people smuggling. A smuggler will facilitate illegal entry into a country for a fee, but on arrival at their destination, the smuggled person is free; the trafficking victim is enslaved. Traffickers use coercive tactics including deception, fraud, intimidation, isolation, threat and use of physical force, debt bondage or even force-feeding with drugs to control their victims. Women are typically recruited with promises of good, legal jobs in other countries or provinces, or are tricked into a false 'marriage', and, lacking better options at home, agree to migrate. Traffickers arrange the travel and job placements, the women are escorted to their destinations and delivered to the employers. Upon reaching their destinations, some women learn that they have been deceived about the nature of the work they will do; most have been lied to about the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment; and all find themselves in coercive and abusive situations and kept in a financial situation that they are stuck in a form of debt bondage from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.

Proponents of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) in the United States, and Sweden's Act On Prohibiting The Purchase Of Sexual Services have sought to define all forms of prostitution as exploitive or "de facto" slavery, and place emphasis on suppressing the demand for sex services, by prosecuting profiteers and customers. While this effort is advanced as a means to protect trafficked children and women, that are variously estimated at 20,000-100,000 annually in the United States, who have issued numerous critiques of these laws as another form of prohibition and stigmatization, that serve mainly to marginalize sex workers. [ [ Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA] ] Prostitute rights organizations argue that decriminalization and extension of labor rights to sex workers is more effective in ensuring their economic, mental and medical health than any form of prohibition. [ [ Prostitutes Education Network] ]

The term "sex worker" itself is rejected by the advocates of anti-slavery laws, who argue that women cannot choose sex as an economic activity, and claim it is the criminal networks and customer demand that are the driving forces, not economic necessity.

Modern Sexual Slavery

A US Government report published in 2003, estimates that 800,000-900,000 people worldwide are trafficked across borders each year, [ [ Fighting Human Trafficking Inside the United States] US Dept of State] the majority to Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe and North America. The trafficking of women has also been recorded (in lower numbers) in South Asia and the Middle East and from Latin America into the United States.


Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the impoverished former Eastern bloc countries such as Albania, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have been identified as major trafficking source countries for women and children. [ [ Eastern Europe Exports Flesh to the EU] ] [ [ Local women fall prey to sex slavery abroad] ] Young women and girls are often lured to wealthier countries by the promises of money and work and then reduced to sexual slavery. [ [ Crime gangs 'expand sex slavery into shires'] ] It is estimated that two thirds of women trafficked for prostitution worldwide annually come from Eastern Europe, three-quarters have never worked as prostitutes before. [ [ Eastern Europe - Coalition Against Trafficking of Women] ] [ [ A modern slave's brutal odyssey] ]

The major destinations are Western Europe (Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, UK, Greece), the Middle East (Turkey, Israel, the United Arab Emirates), Asia, Russia and the United States. [ [ Moldova: Lower prices behind sex slavery boom and child prostitution] ] [ [ The Russian Mafia in Asia] ] An estimated 500,000 women from Central and Eastern Europe are working in prostitution in the EU alone. [ [ For East Europe’s Women, a Rude Awakening] ]

The Council of Europe states that " [p] eople trafficking has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion." [ [ / More4 / Ghosts / Stop the Traffik campaign ] ] [ [ Council of Europe says human trafficking has reached 'epidemic proportions' - Europe - International Herald Tribune ] ] Trafficking victims typically are recruited using coercion, deception, fraud, the abuse of power, or outright abduction. Threats, violence, and economic leverage such as debt bondage can often make a victim consent to exploitation.

The United States

In 2002, the US Department of State repeated an earlier CIA estimate that each year, about 50,000 women and children are brought against their will to the United States for sexual exploitation. [ [ Worldwide Tragedy: U.S. Not Immune to Sexual Slavery] ] [ [ Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report] ] Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said that " [h] ere and abroad, the victims of trafficking toil under inhuman conditions -- in brothels, sweatshops, fields and even in private homes." [ [ Modern Slavery: People for Sale] ]

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has also been implicated in the trafficking of underage women across state and international boundaries (US/Canada). In most cases, this is for the continuation of polygamous practices, in the form of plural marriage. [] []


According to one advocacy group, thousands of women are forced into prostitution in and from China every year. [ Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation] ]


The colonial powers abolished slavery in the nineteenth century, but in areas outside their jurisdiction, such as the Mahdist empire in Sudan, the practice continued to thrive.

Now, institutional slavery has been banned worldwide, but there are numerous reports of women sex slaves in areas without an effective government control, such as until recently, Sudan, [ [ Sudan: Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences] ] Liberia, [ [ Liberia's Taylor appears in court] ] Sierra Leone, [ [ Sierra Leone: Sexual Violence Widespread in War] ] northern Uganda, [ [ Uganda: No Amnesty for Atrocities] ] Congo, [ [ Girls at U.N. meeting urge action against sex slavery, trafficking, child labor, AIDS] ] Niger [ [ Born to be a slave in Niger] ] and Mauritania. [ [ Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law] ]

In Ghana, Togo, and Benin, a form of religious prostitution known as "trokosi" ("ritual servitude") forcibly keeps thousands of girls and women in traditional shrines as "wives of the gods", where priests perform the sexual function in place of the gods. [ [ Ghana's trapped slaves] , By Humphrey Hawksley in eastern Ghana, 8 February, 2001. BBC News] This can be compared with the devadasi system in India.

The Middle East / Israel

In the contemporary Middle East, sexual slavery exists, and transportation and trafficking occurs. In Israel, officials report a significant problem in human trafficking for the sex trade industry [ [,2933,129157,00.html Israel a Human Trafficking Haven]] [ [ Israel's Sex Trade Escalating] CBS News] — much of it involving women from Eastern Europe. Eastern European women also end up in Turkey and United Arab Emirates. [ [ World: Sex Traffickers Prey On Eastern Europeans] ]

Many of the Iraqi women fleeing the Iraq War are turning to prostitution, while others are trafficked abroad, to countries like Syria, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Iran. [ [ Sexual Slavery on the rise in Iraq] ] In Syria alone, an estimated 50,000 Iraqi refugee girls and women, many of them widows, have become prostitutes. [ [ '50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution] ] Cheap Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists. The clients come from wealthier countries in the Middle East - [ Iraqi refugees forced into prostitution] ] High prices are offered for virgins. [ [ Desperate Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade in Syria] ] [ [ Iraqi refugees forced into prostitution] ]


As many as 200,000 Nepali girls, many under the age of 14, have been sold into sex slavery in India. Nepalese women and girls, especially virgins, are favoured in India because of their fair skin and young looks. [ [ Millions Suffer in Sex Slavery] ] [ [ Fair skin and young looks: Nepalese victims of human trafficking languish in Indian brothels] ]


Although illegal by Pakistani law, young girls (sometimes as young as 9 years old) on few instances have been sold by their families to brothels as sex slaves in big cities. Often this happens due to poverty or debt, whereby the family has no other way to raise the money than to sell the young girl [cite web | url= | title=PAKISTAN'S SLAVE TRADE:Afghan refugees sold into prostitution; indentured servitude flourishes;scenes from a slave auction | first=ANDREW | last=BUSHELL] . Few cases have also been recorded where wives and sisters have been sold to brothels to raise money for gambling, drinking or consuming drugs. Many sex slaves are also bought by 'agents' in Afghanistan who trick young girls into coming to Pakistan for well-paying jobs. Once in Pakistan they are taken to brothels (called "Kharabat") and forced into sexual slavery for many years. [ [{32A1A7A6-6D7F-44EE-9A34-4C59EB5CAF59} Sex Slave Jihad] ] [ [ New York Times: Sex Slaves Returning Home Raise AIDS Risks, Study Says] ] . Watta satta (Urdu: وٹہ سٹہ), a tribal practice; when executed without consent is also considered a form of sexual slavery by certain groups in Pakistan [ [ Watta Satta (وٹہ سٹہ) in Pakistan] ] .

Southeast Asia

In Asia, Japan is the major destination country for trafficked women, especially from the Philippines and Thailand. The US State Department has rated Japan as either a ‘Tier 2’ or a ‘Tier 2 Watchlist’ country every year since 2001, in its annual "Trafficking in Persons" reports. Both these ratings implied that Japan was (to a greater or lesser extent) not fully compliant with minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking trade.

Currently an estimated 300,000 women and children are involved in the sex trade throughout Southeast Asia. [ [ Sex-slave trade flourishes in Thailand] ] It is common that Thai women are lured to Japan and sold to Yakuza-controlled brothels where they are forced to work off their price. [ [ "Woman's Dying Wish: to punish traffickers who ruined her life"] "The Nation", January 23 2006] [ [ A modern form of slavery: Trafficking of Burmese Women and Girls into Brothels in Thailand] ] In Cambodia at least a quarter of the 20,000 people working as prostitutes are children with some being as young as 5. [] By the late 1990s, UNICEF estimated that there are 60,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines, describing Angeles City brothels as "notorious" for offering sex with children.UNICEF estimates many of the 200 brothels in the notorious Angeles City offer children for sex. [ BBC Politics 97 ] ]

ex Trafficking in Cambodia

Human Security approach as a solution to the problem

Human Security Goals

#To have a more comprehensive concept of security under the Human Security agenda. Combating Sex Slavery and Trafficking as Government Security Priority The Human Security agenda enabled the Cambodia government to have a more comprehensive understanding of national security and make the issue of sex trafficking as a national security priority. Traditional state-centered security was defined narrowly as security of territory from external aggression, and hence under this approach, Cambodia might be regarded as a secure state. On the other hand, human security is a people-centered approach which recognizes a broader scope of the concept of security and that lasting stability cannot be achieved until people are protected from violent threats to their rights, safety or lives. [ [ UNDP , Human Development Report 1994, Oxford University Press, 1994] ] While the women and children who sought security in their daily lives were being neglected under the traditional security paradigm, the human security agenda suggested the government to focus efforts on those who are particularly vulnerable to the threat of sex trafficking.
#To supplement the inherent incapable Government with the portfolio diversification strategy. While traditionalists regard the state as the primary actor in providing for security, the human security agenda encourages diverse portfolio of actors in providing security, which helped in alleviating the problem of sex trafficking in Cambodia. A state-centered approach would be insufficient and incapable in enhancing personal security of vulnerable children and women in Cambodia due to the following reasons:
##Corruption and Lax law enforcement of Cambodia's anti-trafficking efforts remained hampered by systemic corruption and an ineffectual judicial system. Although Cambodia is the first country in the world to create a special police task force to fight human trafficking, this Police Anti-trafficking Department has conducted only a limited numbers of proactive investigations. Corruption, lack of training and funding for law enforcement, and a weak judiciary remain the most serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers. There are reports that corrupt police officials continue to leak information to brothel/karaoke operators about upcoming police raids. [2006 US State Department trafficking in Persons Report, p 83] Moreover, the government provides limited assistance to victim and made modest efforts to promote awareness of sex slavery and trafficking due to limited human and financial resources.
##Complexity and transnational nature of the problem Unlike some human rights abuses which are primarily regional, sex trafficking is complex and transnational in nature. Victims come from virtually all developing countries and are trafficked into or through virtually all developing and developed countries where demands from wealthy countries keep this criminal industry extremely profitable for traffickers. [ [ The Future Group, A Human Security Crisis of Global Proportions] ]

Consistency with the portfolio diversification strategy in Cambodia

#Practical with normative appeal With the above reasons, a portfolio diversification strategy would be needed to deal with this complex and transnational security threat to Cambodia and to supplement the state’s insufficiencies and incapability. This strategy has been practical since to protect vulnerable children and women is normatively appealing and hence attracts help from non-state actors and attention from mass media. The onus of moral responsibility to intervene to protect individual lives was deemed highly acceptable in the eyes of most supporters and hence effectively persuaded publics around the world to provide assistance to these vulnerable children and women in Cambodia.
#Efforts by diverse portfolio of actors Portfolio diversification strategy has been used in implementing human-focused security policies which would enhance Cambodia’s security through combating the problem of sex trafficking. States like United States and Canada, international organizations (IOs) like the Asia Foundation, United Nations International Children’s Fund, Red Cross, [First Cambodian Red Cross Northwest Regional Workshop: Red Cross Responses to Human Trafficking] International Labor Organization and International Organization for Migration (“IOM”), and local non-governmental organization, like Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights (“CCPCR”) and Cambodian Women’s Development Association, have been exerting pressure and cooperating with the Government of Cambodia in combating sex trafficking. [ [ Human trafficking Organization, Human Trafficking in Cambodia: Finding Local and Regional Solutions to a Global Problem] ]
##To exert pressure on Government of Cambodia in combating sex slavery and trafficking Cambodia was placed on Tier 3 in the 2005 United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report for its lack of progress in combating severe forms of trafficking. Subjected to the international pressure together with supervision from global mass media, the Cambodian Government stepped up efforts to arrest, prosecute, and convict traffickers. Police actions increased over 2006 and the Cambodian Government also made efforts to address trafficking-related official corruption. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) also developed a National Action Plan to eradicate trafficking in persons. In addition, the Cambodian Government made clear progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts by approving a comprehensive anti-trafficking bill that provides law enforcement and judicial officials with enhanced powers to arrest and prosecute traffickers in 2006.
##To provide human and financial resources and supplement insufficient Government’s effort Cambodia has a very active domestic and international NGO community working to combat trafficking. Regarding to the lack of human resources and rampant corruption problems, IOs and NGOs cooperated with the Government to conduct training for police officers on investigation techniques, surveillance, and case preparation and management of trafficking cases. Victims are mainly referred to NGOs and IOs and relied primarily on foreign and domestic NGOs to provide protective services to victims. [Although the Government operated two temporary shelters for victims through the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSAVY)] For example, the IOM provides trafficked women and children with long term recovery and reintegration assistance and CCPCR, which provides rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration services to child victims of trafficking. NGOs and IOs also worked with the Government to implemented campaigns in most parts of the country to raise public awareness regarding the dangers of trafficking. For example, the Ministry of Women's Affairs collaborated with the IOM to expand a nationwide anti-trafficking information and advocacy campaign that included district-level meetings with government officials and the distribution of educational materials and videos.
##International Cooperation Efforts: International treaties Cambodia has made progress in engaging in regional and international cooperation by signing and ratifying important instruments concerning the protection of children from sexual exploitation. [Cambodia signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol) in 2001, but has not ratified it - a significant gap in its protection of children against trafficking for sexual purposes.] In October 2004, Cambodia participated in the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT) which is a regional agreement at the government level committing governments to prepare country-specific plans of action. [ [ Human trafficking Organization, Structure of Cambodia Task Force on Human Trafficking] ] Cambodia also acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1992, and ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Optional Protocol) in 2002 and ratified ILO Convention No. 182 in 2006. [ [ End Child Prostitution And Trafficking (ECPAT) International, Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: Cambodia, 2006.] ]
#Effectiveness and Sustainability of the efforts In 2005, the Cambodian police reported conducting 67 operations, resulted in the arrest of 111 perpetrators and the rescue of 164 victims. The Ministry of Justice reported the prosecution and conviction of at least 45 traffickers during 2005, double the number in 2004. [ United States, Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2006 (Washington, D.C., 2006).] ] However, these cases were mostly generated by the efforts of NGOs. In addition, implementation of the policies and commitments of the international treaties has been slow, mainly due to lack of resources, poor law enforcement and corrupt practices. Hence sustainability of these efforts is in question. In long run, the Cambodian Government should put greater effort in building a working judicial system and legal infrastructure to enforce these laws. Moreover, to enhance the sustainability of their anti-trafficking efforts, other states and IOs ought to focus on cooperating with local NGOs and the government departments in order to empower them. Luckily, the Cambodia Government has been quite active in learning from other states and to cooperate with IOs and NGOs.

Historical Sexual Slavery

United Kingdom

In Victorian Britain, campaigning journalist William Thomas Stead procured a 13 year old virgin for £5, an amount then equal to a labourer's monthly wage. See the Eliza Armstrong case.

North America

In the mid-nineteenth century in the U.S., there was a white slavery scare which suggested that large numbers of white women were being kidnapped and forced into prostitution. The prevalence of this practice was greatly exaggerated due to xenophobiaFact|date=April 2008, and this phenomenon is generally regarded today as having been an example of a moral panic.

At that time, the US victims of sexual slavery were overwhelmingly women of African descent, held as slaves, often purchased primarily for sexual exploitation.Fact|date=October 2007 One unverified story of such a girl, purchased as a sexual slave when she was fourteen, is told in "Celia, A Slave" by Melton A. Mclaurin. Such practice is also widely referred to in other literature discussing the era e.g. "" by Alex Haley and Chapter thirty of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Frederick Douglass, in his autobiography, described the sale of female slaves openly advertised for sexual purposes at slave auctions in the nineteenth century United States. According to John A. Morone's book "Hellfire Nation", slaveowners in the American South openly admitted to practicing sexual slavery, while Southern diarist, Mary Chestnut, famously wrote that cquote|Like the patriarchs of old, our men live all in one house with their wives and their concubines; and the mulattoes one sees in every family partly resemble the white children. Any lady is ready to tell you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody’s household but her own. Those, she seems to think, drop from the clouds.

hōwa Japan during World War II

"Comfort women" is a euphemism for the up to 200,000 women who served in the Japanese army's brothels during World War II. Historians and researchers into the subject have stated that the majority were from Korea, China, and other occupied territories part of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and were recruited by force or deception to serve as sex slaves. [cite news | first=Martin | last=Fackler | coauthors= | title=No Apology for Sex Slavery, Japan’s Prime Minister Says | date=2007-03-06 | publisher= | url = | work =The New York Times | pages = | accessdate = 2007-03-23 | language = ] [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Abe questions sex slave 'coercion' | date=2007-03-02 | publisher= | url = | work =BBC News | pages = | accessdate = 2007-03-23 | language = ] [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Japan party probes sex slave use | date=2007-03-08 | publisher= | url = | work =BBC News | pages = | accessdate = 2007-03-23 | language = ] [ [ Comfort Women Were 'Raped': U.S. Ambassador to Japan] ]

By Nazi Germany in WWII

At least 34,000 women from Europe were forced into prostitution. Usually organized in hotels confiscated from their rightful places, they also served travelling soldiers or those withdrawn from the front. Usually they also included a bar, a restaurant and a brothel. In most cases, especially in the East, the women were forced to serve as prostitutes after being caught at random on the streets in Łapankas, kidnapping raids by Nazi German military of civilians in Poland.

The Middle East

Slave trade, including trade of sex slaves, [ [ Islam and slavery: Sexual slavery] ] fluctuated in certain regions in the Middle East up until the twentieth century. [ [ Mauritania made slavery illegal last month] ] These slaves came largely from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caucasus, [ [ "Horrible Traffic in Circassian Women—Infanticide in Turkey," New York Daily Times, August 6 1856] ] and often from parts of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. [ [ Soldier Khan] ]


Although other countries to this a confirmed 3000 times more than the middle east who believe this to be wrong and inappropriate.

Further reading

* Lal, K. S. "Muslim Slave System in Medieval India" (1994), chapter XII: "Sex Slavery" [] ISBN 81-85689-67-9

* Wright, Terry Lee "River of Innocents" (2008) []

ee also

*Ritual servitude
*Trafficking in human beings
*Child sexual abuse

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