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Emergence of sex tourism as a social problem:

  • In November of 2001, a press release was made by UNICEF, a well known organization through-out the world. in the press release UNICEF brought light to the world of the sex trade industry. the statistic that UNICEF shows woke the world up to the devastating effects of the sex trade industry. in the statistic UNICEF explained that there are over 1 million children force to work in the sex trade industry around the world. not only that the children are being abuse, violated, and suffer unjust, they are the most at risk to be infected by HIV. UNICEF used statistic to places fear in people to shows them that the million of children can come from anywhere around the world. in addition, it use emotional appeal to the statistic by explaining the situation that the children are suffering. this press release shows that UNICEF was at the forefront that brought the issue of sex trade industry into public light. UNICEF brought new light into the sex trade problem by connecting to deadly HIV problem. this further help them identify sex trade as an issue that need to be solve. UNICEF solution was to sever the demand of sex tourism, thus helping to prevent further spread of HIV.

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How have popular understandings of the problem changed in the last 10, 50, and 100 years?

  • In ten years time, the popular understanding of the problem has changed during the age of Internet. The technology in many countries have drastically improved over the course of years and provided many resources for people to use. People can use the Internet for information and watch television unlike the previous years. The traffickers were able on continuing their business through “various forums or websites and ply their trade in cyberspace”[1] This form of business makes it easier for the traffickers to engage in human trafficking. In this business, traffickers can close down one website and open up another in a matter of hours [2] There are reports by the police that said prostitution has moved to indoors. An example of this is Rhode Island. Apparently, Rhode Island has one of the highest rates of trafficking because of the lack for enforcement. In addition, there is huge number of advertisements in newspapers that shows prostitution is happening indoors. Hints in these ads are "relaxation,” “table showers” and “body rubs [3]

  • In fifty years ago, the awareness of the problem has changed a lot in third world countries. It is known that “people in the developing world might only know of opportunities in other countries by word of mouth" [4] In addition, capitalism became a huge influence to this ongoing problem. The structure of capitalism has created cheap labor and corrupt practices that benefit the employers. There are studies that show “that traffickers earn millions of Euros from the trade of humans” [5] During the transition to communism, many European countries were “economically devastated by the lack of market economy”

  • In the previous hundred of years, there were many events that increased the rate of trafficking of women and sex trade. One example is the colonization from Europeans and African slave trade. There was one event that addressed the issue of human trafficking. The event is called the “White Slave Traffic of 1904 drafted by the League of Nations” [6] Because of this event, human trafficking became “a moral problem related to ‘slavery.’ The list of victims became updated after 1920s by adding children and adult women to the list. Thanks to the convention, it has "set the standard for anti-trafficking instruments for several decades” [7]


What role do institutions play in constructing and maintaining the social problem?

    • Government and legislation play a major role in constructing and maintaining sex trafficking as a social problem. Though the laws passed are supposed to protect the victims and prosecute traffickers, in reality, these laws do little to protect the trafficked and prosecute traffickers. Because of the laws, there are certain procedures to prosecute traffickers. These procedures make it very difficult to prosecute traffickers. Some countries such as Sudan do not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and are not making the efforts to do so, which helps maintain the sex trafficking industry.In addition, laws vary from country to country and the different laws make it difficult to prosecute. In the specific case of the child sex trade industry, for example, the definition of a “child” varies in different countries (i.e. Australia defines a child as a person under 16 years old, whereas Japan’s definition of a child is anyone under 18 years old, and Sweden considers anyone under 15 years old a child.)

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  • This video was commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Youth and Family Affairs in co-operation with the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Division for Tourism, and UNICEF. the video itself is not actually much, however, the message that it sends is very much disturbing. this video used a doll as in place of a real child, however, in real life these dolls would be small kids that were forced into the sex tourism industry by force. the video is really disturbing with the doll, imagine how much more disturbing it would be if the doll was a kid that you might know. UNICEF stats that there are over 1 million children being forced into the sex tourism industry every year.

Role of Institutions

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    • Most of the government institutions have a objective on completing the success of these programs. All kinds of representatives are trained to handle the issue and come up with ideas to address the issue. Programs such as the ICMC find alternative ways to "protect victims by establishing effective networks and cross-border counter-trafficking task forces among local authorities and representatives..." [8] With the help of the government, new laws can be implemented and make it harder for the traffickers to continue their work. However, in order for this plan to work, it requires support and the help of the victims. [9]
  • Religion:
    • Religion is one of the most powerful institutions in constructing and maintaining the social problem. In this feature story, one of the priests named Father Ioann has a plan in bringing the church involvement in stopping human trafficking. He points out those women who are trafficked “come from rural areas” [10] In his answer, he said that “the priests are very powerful there but they usually don’t know about human trafficking” [11] By informing the issue to the priests, they can become more involved and work together to stop this inhumane issue.

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  • Media :
    • The news media purpose has “the roles of gatekeeper and watchdog on behalf of the public” [12] With help from the media, organizations can express their opinions about the issue. The public will be updated with alternative strategies about handling the issue of trafficking. However, this role allows the media to have total control of the information shown in broadcast and points of view being expressed. Many sources of the news coverage come from "government officials and law enforcement personnel" [13] In addition, the media presents tragic stories by the victims and present in a non personal bias. However, there are some flaws among the media such as lack of "contributing to the agenda setting process or serving as a watch dog on government, the media simply have been following the lead of those whom they should be watching" [14] Also, the media failed to go in depth on the investigation of the issue.

  • How has the emergence of the social problem challenged social institutions?
    • The emergence of the social problem has challenged social institutions because it has gone against the institution norms. The norms created by the social institutions are flawed. Most institutions are not perfect in their own kind of ways and poses conflict on handling the problem.The flaws within the government include bribery and corruption.Some of the officials can be bribed by the traffickers and help them as well. Not only that, the traffickers also got additional support in continuing their service. Some governments have been able to keep sex trafficking off the agenda because of high power politicians willing to take bribes to benefit themselves.This poses a question as whether or not the institution is good or bad. In addition, it leads to another question if we should have these institutions or not.

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  • Consequences

  • How has the emergence of the social problem shed light on the social nature of perceived individual problems?

  • Organizations, such as UNICEF and HRW, have created a lot of public attention towards the issue of sex trafficking. They have linked sex trafficking to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexual transmitted diseases. Organizations have emphasized the treatment of innocent girls who have been forced into the sex trade industry. For example, girls are drugged when they don’t cooperate with their traffickers. In addition, the men who buy these girls do not wear condoms. That leads to the spread of more sexual transmitted diseases. With the amount of public attention these organizations have created, clinics in areas where sex trafficking occurs have been able to be created. These clinics provide condoms, as well as some health care for the trafficked are provided. This somewhat changes the conditions of those trafficked.

  • How has the emergence of the social problem subordinated some types of experience?

    • Although human trafficking focus is on women, a common scenario would involve a poor Asian or Eastern European girls. It is because “they are motivated by the desire to escape bleak economic conditions, and they view marriage to a Western man as a ticket out of their desperate situation at home” [15] They are advertised as “more traditional, feminine, and submissive than the majority of Western women” [16] Other women are not greatly focused and do not fit into the general stereotype as human trafficking victims. Because of this situation, there is a sense of helplessness and lack of attention. It makes the western women to feel like a minority, and can affect them psychologically.

Whose voices have become most prominent in the construction of, and attempts to solve, the social problem?
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    • Since the emergence of the human trafficking/sex trade issue as a prominent social problem that needs to be stopped, the most prominent organization that fight against human trafficking are religious organizations and international non-profit human rights groups. Human rights group such as the Human rights watch, UNICEF, and ILO voices have been leading the political battles to have the sex trade industry halted. Or at least to have the government to recognize that there is an actual problem rather than denying the wrong doing of the traffickers by stating that there are no such problems within that country. For example Japan had long been reluctant to admit that any problem existed (1) thus this helps traffickers evade the attention of police because they are doing things that are “technically” does not exist.

    • On the other side of politic religious groups that fight for the rights of the victim and the support of the people are churches; this two prominent type of organization works on different ends to pressure the people and government to take action against this injustice. Some religious group actually took matter in their own hands and are doing preventive education to educate people, especially young adults about the danger of sex trafficking. For example a sister school of Notre Dam is actively trying to keep kids knowledgeable about human sex trafficking by providing awareness and action kits on human trafficking to catholic high schools in Canada (2. Gonzales 2009).

  • Sources:
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    1. Given the context of the emergence of the problem, the role of institutions, and the consequences of the problem, how might we as a society begin to address this issue?
    2. How might individuals attempt to address the problem?
    3. Solutions may address any type of action, including, for example, policy/government action, social movement activity, individual resistance, and/or professional organizing.
  • Kristen's solution:
  • Governments throughout the world may begin to address the issue of sex trafficking by organizing one basic set of laws that all countries throughout the world agree to follow. These laws would need to be implemented and enforced strictly. These laws would also need to include basic definitions (e.g. an agreed upon age that the countries would consider a “child” for child sex trade laws.) These basic sets of laws would make it easier to prosecute traffickers because there would be less confusion within the governments. This set of laws would make governments throughout the world follow one procedure and have one statute of limitation for the crimes. This set of laws would make it more difficult for traffickers to find loopholes because of the laws of different countries and slip through the cracks.


  • Governments need to spend more money to make sure these basic sets of laws are enforced. Each country’s government needs to put pressure on their officials to ensure that there is no corruption and bribery within their government. If there is corruption, the government needs to take swift action to somehow find the corrupted officials and make sure they are taken out of office and are punished. In addition, each country should have a specialized department to find traffickers, as well as making sure police and other law enforcers follow and enforce these basic laws in all countries.
  • Individuals may attempt to address the problem by showing the government that they believe that sex trafficking is an issue. Individuals need to write letters to their representatives and their government. In addition, individuals need to show support towards organizations such as UNICEF to constantly put pressure on the government to figure out ways to fix the issue. They need to constantly put pressure on the government to make conditions better for those who are trafficked. It is the job of the individual to make sure that the issue of sex trafficking stays on the agenda and isn’t taken off of the government’s radar. It is the job of the individual to make sure that the issue of sex trafficking will forever be looked at as a social problem in the eyes of the government, and the only way to make sure that the government remembers that is to put constant pressure on them.

    Dennis' Solution:
    • The media can become a solution to fix this problem. In other countries, there has been lack ofeht1.gif media attention that makes human trafficking to seem like a norm, which eventually individuals are less likely to take action against human trafficking. However, media coverage can become a resource source and a big influence to changing policy and victims. With more attention to this problematic issue, there would be more public awareness that bring additional support.
    • On the other hand, government institutions tend to give preferential treatment to the rich traffickers who exploit the poor, thus the traffickers are less likely to be punish. One example of this is in Rhode Island. Managers and middlemen would operate in a form of organization with bribery. By changing the government actions, policies such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act can make a difference. Many countries have let their citizens develop ideas to exploit cheap labor in order for the individual to get wealthy. Because of this inhumane action, the suicide rate became extremely high. The government should eliminate this kind of preferential treatment to certain individuals and take immediate action for better enforcement. The government can also provide federal aid to the poor families. Hopefully, this can eliminate some of the inequality between the classes. By having all these changes, many women and children can have better lives to look forward too.

    Phu's solution:
  • Sex trafficking is a world problem that needs to be solve. However, the solution is very elusive, since no one has found it yet. My solution is simple, like individual steps on an uncharted forest patch will not make a mark. However, when people join together and walk that same path eventually a road will form. Thus my solution to this problem is to change the family social views of how individual should be treated. For example in Thailand, prostitution is not really a crime; it is actually embraced due to the views that it may actually save families rather than destroying families. Wives preferred to have a husband who solves marital problem by going to brothel rather than leaving them. In addition, Thailand Buddhism teaching help cope with prostitution in that it teaches karma which mean that women who are forced into prostitution may deserved to be in the situation that they are in. Therefore this type of religious reinforcement helps in the maintenance of sex trade industry in Thailand.stoppHumanTrafficking.jpg
  • My solution to this would be to have religious leaders teach a different interpretation of the karma cycle. Ergo with religion teaching that the inhumane treatments of these victims are not caused by the karmic cycle will slowly be ingrain into the minds of the people. This would help change the views of prostitution and sex trade by the common people whom tolerated the sex industry because of religion. However, now that religion is teaching them that these inhumane treatments is wrong and thus deem as an act of evil will cause the common people to act against sex industry within in community. This would result in a drastic decline in the sex industry in Thailand.
  • This solution is not only applicable to Thailand, but also other countries as well. Some countries may not be influenced by religion but other influences like education or economic can be taught and work with in the individual community.
    This method, however, is very costly and requires large amount of people volunteering to help. But when there are enough people to come together and help to solve this issue, through implementation of my method people can stop the sex trade industry.
    Hughes, Donna M. 2000. “The ‘Natasha’ trade: transnational sex trafficking.” Journal of international Affair. Retrieved September 3, 2009 Available:


  • Dennis's Citations
  • 1. Lusk, M. (2009). The challenge of human trafficking and contemporary slavery. Journal of comparative social welfare, 25(1), 49-57.
  • 2. Jones, L. (2007). Globalization and Human Trafficking. Journal of sociology and social welfare, 34(2), 107-122.
  • 3. Van der Anker Christien L. and Doomernik Jeroen. 2006. Trafficking and Women’s Rights. Basingstoke [England], New York: Palgrave Macmillan
  • 4. Zhang, Sheldon. 2008. Chinese human smuggling organizations: families, social networks, and cultural imperatives. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press
  • 5. Mendelson, Sarah Elizabeth. 2005. Barracks and brothels: peacekeepers and human trafficking in the Balkans. Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • 6. Agustín, Laura María. 2007. Sex at the margins : migration, labour markets and the rescue industry. London ; New York : Zed Books

Dennis Tran - Webmaster
Phu Tran - Overseer
Kristen Kwan - Content Director
*We all contribute to individual portions of the information within this website. Kristen provided guidelines for the content. Dennis organized and also designed the website. Phu helped to clear up any confusion and oversee the project.

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