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Trafficking in Women and Children: A Market Perspective

NCJ Number
Transnational Organized Crime Volume: 3 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 1997 Pages: 145-170
Phil Williams
Date Published
26 pages
This analysis is a preliminary attempt to understand the international trafficking in women and children through the application of a market analysis.
The analysis has a number of underlying assumptions. First, the market for commercial sex has long had a transnational dimension, so that there is little new about the contemporary manifestations of the phenomenon. Second, the markets in women and children for commercial sex are similar to other illicit markets. Third, there are nevertheless certain distinct features of the markets in women and children that differentiate them from other illicit products, in that they are treated as consumer durables to be used and abused repeatedly by clients, thus making them an attractive product for criminals. Fourth, by understanding the market dynamics, it should be possible to develop more effective countermeasures that disrupt, dislocate, impose risks, and establish barriers in the markets. Accordingly, the paper initially presents a market framework and then within this framework first examines trafficking in women and then explores trafficking in children as part of the broader issue of child prostitution. In both cases, the analysis addresses the response that governments and law enforcement agencies can develop to create market barriers. The author recognizes, however, that both preventive and remedial measures will take time to implement and that the markets will continue to flourish so long as there is a demand for commercial sex, so long as there are limited opportunities for women in licit sectors of the economy, and so long as there are individuals who view this as a lucrative enterprise. 51 notes