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Definition of sexual slaveryAccording to the Rome Statute (Article 7(2)(c)), sexual enslavement is the exercise of any or all of the powers attached to the "right of ownership" over a person. It may comprise repeated sexual abuse or rape by the captor or forcing the victim to provide sexual services to others, or both. The crime is a continuing offence. The Rome Statute's definition of sexual slavery includes situations where persons are forced into domestic servitude, marriage or any other forced labour that involves sexual activity, as well as the trafficking of persons for sexual purposes, frequently women and children.
Sex traffickingSex trafficking is a type of Human trafficking involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbour or receipt of persons, by coercive or abusive means for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sex trafficking is not the only form of human trafficking and estimates vary as to the percentage of human trafficking which is for the purpose of transporting someone into sexual slavery.
The BBC News cited a report by UNODC as listing the most common destinations for victims of human trafficking in 2007 as Thailand and Japan. The report lists Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine as major sources of trafficked persons.
Commercial sexual exploitation of childrenCommercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) includes prostitution of children, child pornography, child sex tourism, trafficking of children for sexual purposes, or other forms of transactional sex with children. The Youth Advocate Program International (YAPI) describes CSEC as a form of coercion and violence against children and a contemporary form of slavery.
A declaration of the World Congress Against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Stockholm in 1996, defined CSEC as, "sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or in kind to the child or to a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object".
Child prostitutionThe prostitution of children is a form of commercial sexual exploitation of children in which a child performs the services of prostitution, usually for the financial benefit of an adult.
India's federal police said in 2009 that they believed around 1.2 million children in India to be involved in prostitution. A CBI statement said that studies and surveys sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Child Development estimated about 40% of India's prostitutes to be children.
Thailand’s Health System Research Institute reported that children in prostitution make up 40% of prostitutes in Thailand.
In some parts of the world, child prostitution is tolerated or ignored by the authorities. Reflecting an attitude which prevails in many developing countries, a judge from Honduras said, on condition of anonymity: "If the victim [the child prostitute] is older than 12, if he or she refuses to file a complaint and if the parents clearly profit from their child's commerce, we tend to look the other way".
Child pornographyChild pornography, which has been called 'child abuse images', refers to images or films depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child. As such, child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse. Abuse of the child occurs during the sexual acts which are photographed in the production of child pornography, and the effects of the abuse on the child (and continuing into maturity) are compounded by the wide distribution and lasting availability of the photographs of the abuse.
Child sex tourismChild sex tourism is a travel to a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. Child sex tourism results in both mental and physical consequences for the exploited children, that may include "disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possibly death", according to the State Department of the United States. Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil and Mexico have been identified as leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation.
Forced prostitutionMost, if not all, forms of forced prostitution may be viewed as a kind of sexual slavery. The terms "forced prostitution" or "enforced prostitution" appear in international and humanitarian conventions but have been insufficiently understood and inconsistently applied. "Forced prostitution" generally refers to conditions of control over a person who is coerced by another to engage in sexual activity.
The issue of consent in prostitution is a hotly debated issue. Opinion in places like Europe has been divided over the question of whether prostitution itself should be considered as a free choice or as inherently exploitative of women. The law in Sweden, Norway and Iceland – where it is illegal to pay for sex, but not to sell sexual services – is based on the notion that all forms of prostitution are inherently exploitative, opposing the notion that prostitution can be voluntary. In contrast, prostitution is a recognized profession in countries such as Netherlands and Germany.
In 1949 the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (the 1949 Convention). The 1949 Convention supersedes a number of earlier conventions that covered some aspects of forced prostitution. Signatories are charged with three obligations under the 1949 Convention: prohibition of trafficking, specific administrative and enforcement measures, and social measures aimed at trafficked persons. The 1949 Convention presents two shifts in perspective of the trafficking problem in that it views prostitutes as victims of the procurers, and in that it eschews the terms "white slave traffic" and "women," using for the first time race- and gender-neutral language. Article 1 of the 1949 Convention provides punishment for any person who "[p]rocures, entices or leads away, for purposes of prostitution, another person" or "[e]xploits the prostitution of another person, even with the consent of that person." To fall under the provisions of the 1949 Convention, the trafficking need not cross international lines.
Crime against humanityThe Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum, which defines the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, recognizes rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilization, "or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity" as crime against humanity if the action is part of a widespread or systematic practice. Sexual slavery was first recognized as a crime against humanity when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia issued arrest warrants based on the Geneva Conventions and Violations of the Laws or Customs of War. Specifically, it was recognised that Muslim women in Foča (southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina) were subjected to systematic and widespread gang rape, torture and sexual enslavement by Bosnian Serb soldiers, policemen, and members of paramilitary groups after the takeover of the city in April 1992. The indictment was of major legal significance and was the first time that sexual assaults were investigated for the purpose of prosecution under the rubric of torture and enslavement as a crime against humanity. The indictment was confirmed by a 2001 verdict by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that rape and sexual enslavement are crimes against humanity. This ruling challenged the widespread acceptance of rape and sexual enslavement of women as intrinsic part of war. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found three Bosnian Serb men guilty of rape of Bosniac (Bosnian Muslim) women and girls – some as young as 12 and 15 years of age – in Foča, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The charges were brought as crimes against humanity and war crimes. Furthermore two of the men were found guilty of the crime against humanity of sexual enslavement for holding women and girls captive in a number of de facto detention centers. Many of the women had subsequently disappeared.
Sexual slavery during armed conflict and warsexual violence have accompanied warfare in virtually every known historical era. Before the 19th century, military circles supported the notion that all persons, including unarmed women and children, were still the enemy, with the belligerent (nation or person engaged in conflict) having conquering rights over them. "To the victor goes the spoils" has been a war cry for centuries and women were included as part of the spoils of war. Institutionalised sexual slavery and enforced prostitution have been documented in a number of wars, most notably the Second World War.
Japan during World War II"Comfort women" are a widely publicised example of sexual slavery. The term is a euphemism for the 200,000 women who served in the Japanese army's camps during World War II. Historians and researchers 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 kidnapping or deception to serve as sex slaves. Many women were raped to the point of death or killed by torture, such as having their breasts sliced off or having their abdomens slit open. Each slave was reportedly raped "an average of 10 rapes per day (considered by some to be a low estimate), for a five day work week; this figure can be extrapolated to estimate that each 'comfort girl' was raped around 50 times per week or 2,500 times per year. For three years of service – the average – a comfort girl would have been raped 7,500 times." (Parker 1995 United Nations Commissions on Human Rights)
Germany during World War IIDuring World War II, Germany established brothels in the concentration camps for the sexual gratification of collaborating prisoners (Lagerbordell). The women forced to work in the concentration camp brothels came from the Ravensbrück concentration camp, Soldier's brothels (Wehrmachtsbordell) were usually organized in already established whorehouses or in hotels confiscated by the Germans. The leaders of the Wehrmacht became interested in running their own brothels when sexual disease spread among the soldiers. In the controlled brothels, the women frequently had a medical check for sexually transmittable diseases.
It is estimated that a minimum of 34,140 women from occupied states worked as prostitutes during the Third Reich. In Eastern Europe the local women were often forced into prostitution. On 3 May 1941 the Foreign Ministry of the Polish government-in-exile issued a document describing the mass raids made in Polish cities with the aim of capturing young women, who later were forced to work in brothels attended by German soldiers and officers. There were often escape attempts, with at least one mass escape known to have been attempted by women in Norway.
Bride kidnapping and raptiomarriage practised in some traditional cultures. Bride kidnapping has reportedly occurred in countries spanning Central Asia, the Caucasus region, parts of Africa, and among the Hmong in southeast Asia, the Tzeltal in Mexico, and the Romani in Europe. Though the motivations behind bride kidnapping vary by region, the cultures with traditions of marriage by abduction are generally patriarchal with a strong social stigma on sex or pregnancy outside of marriage and illegitimate births. In some cases, the couple collude together to elope under the guise of a bride kidnapping, presenting their parents with a fait accompli. In most cases, however, the men who resort to capturing a wife are often of lower social status, whether because of poverty, disease, poor character or criminality. These men are sometimes deterred from legitimately seeking a wife because of the payment the woman's family expects, the bride price (not to be confused with a dowry, paid by the woman's family).
Bride kidnapping is distinguished from raptio in that the former refers to the abduction of one woman by one man (and/or his friends and relatives), and is often a widespread and ongoing practice, whereas the latter refers to the largescale abduction of women by groups of men, possibly in a time of war (see also war rape). The Latin term raptio refers to abduction of women, either for marriage (by kidnapping or elopement) or enslavement (particularly sexual slavery). In Roman Catholic canon law, raptio refers to the legal prohibition of matrimony if the bride was abducted forcibly (Canon 1089 CIC).
The practice of raptio is surmised to have existed since anthropological antiquity. In Neolithic Europe, excavation of a Linear Pottery culture site at Asparn-Schletz, Austria, unearthed the remains of numerous slain victims. Among them, young adult females and children were clearly under-represented, suggesting that perhaps the attackers had killed the men but abducted the young females.
Contemporary sexual slaveryOfficial estimates of individuals in sexual slavery worldwide vary. In 2001 the International Organization for Migration estimated 400,000, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated 700,000 and UNICEF estimated 1.75 million.
EuropeIn Netherlands, the Bureau of the Dutch Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings in 2005 estimated that there are from 1,000 to 7,000 trafficking victims a year. Most police investigations relate to legal sex businesses, with all sectors of prostitution being well represented, but with window brothels being particularly overrepresented. Dutch news site Expatica reported that in 2008, there were 809 registered trafficking victims in the Netherlands; out of those 763 were women and at least 60 percent of them were reportedly forced to work in the sex industry. Of reported victims, those from Hungary were all female and all forced into prostitution.
In Germany, the trafficking of women from Eastern Europe is often organized by people from that same region. German authorities identified 676 sex-trafficking victims in 2008, compared with 689 in 2007. The German Federal Police Office BKA reported in 2006 a total of 357 completed investigations of human trafficking, with 775 victims. Thirty-five percent of the suspects were Germans born in Germany and 8% were German citizens born outside of Germany.
In Greece, according to NGO estimates in 2008, there may be a total 13,000–14,000 trafficking victims of all types in the country at any given time. Major countries of origin for trafficking victims brought into Greece include Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, Moldova, Romania, and Belarus.
In Switzerland, the police estimated in 2006 that there may be between 1,500 and 3,000 victims of all types of human trafficking. The organizers and their victims generally come from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Cambodia, and, to a lesser extent, Africa.
In Belgium, in 2007, prosecutors handled a total of 418 trafficking cases, including 219 economic exploitation and 168 sexual exploitation cases. In the same year, the federal judicial police handled 196 trafficking files, compared with 184 in 2006. In 2007 the police arrested 342 persons for smuggling and trafficking-related crimes. A recent report by RiskMonitor foundation estimated that 70% of the prostitutes who work in Belgium are from Bulgaria.
In Austria, Vienna has the largest number of reported trafficking cases, although trafficking is also a problem in urban centers such as Graz, Linz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. The NGO Lateinamerikanische Frauen in Oesterreich–Interventionsstelle fuer Betroffene des Frauenhandels (LEFOE-IBF) reported assisting 108 victims of all types of human trafficking in 2006, down from 151 in 2005.
In Spain, in 2007, officials identified 1,035 sex trafficking victims and 445 labor trafficking victims.
AfricaIn Africa the colonial powers abolished slavery in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, 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 effective government control, such as Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, northern Uganda, Congo, Niger and Mauritania. 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.
AsiaIn January 2010, the supreme court of India stated that India is "becoming a hub" for largescale child prostitution rackets, and suggested the setting up of a special investigating agency to tackle the growing problem.
An article about the Rescue Foundation in New Internationalist magazine states that "according to Save the Children India, clients now prefer 10- to 12-year-old girls". The same article attributes the rising number of prostitutes believed to have contracted HIV in India’s brothels as a factor in India becoming the country with the second-largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world, behind South Africa.
In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development estimated that there are around 2.8 million sex workers in India, with 35.47 percent of them entering the trade before the age of 18 years. The number of prostitutes has also doubled in the recent decade. One news article states that an estimated 200,000 Nepalese girls have been trafficked to red light areas of India. Nepalese women and girls, especially virgins, are reportedly favoured in India because of their fair skin and young looks. One report estimates that every year between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked into the red light districts in Indian cities, and that many of the girls may only be 9 or 10 years old.
In Pakistan, young girls have been sold by their families to big-city brothel owners. 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. Cases have also been reported where wives and sisters have been sold to brothels to raise money for gambling, drinking or drug addictions. Sex slaves are reportedly 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, some for many years.
In Thailand, the Health System Research Institute reported in 2005 that children in prostitution make up 40% of Thailand's prostitutes, and that a proportion of prostitutes over the age of 18, including foreign nationals mostly from Burma, China's Yunnan province, Laos and Cambodia, are also in some state of forced sexual servitude. The Tourism Police Bureau in 1997 stated that there were 500 Chinese and 200 European women in prostitution in Bangkok, many of whom entered Thailand illegally, often through Burma and Laos. Earlier reports, however, suggest different figures. (Police Colonel Sanit Meephan, deputy chief of Tourism Police Bureau, "Thailand popular haunt for foreign prostitues," The Nation, 15 January 1997)
The trafficking in Persons Report of 2007 from the US Department of State says that sexual slavery exists in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, where women and children may be trafficked from the post-Soviet states, Eastern Europe, Far East, Africa, South Asia or other parts of the Middle East.
United StatesThe San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2006 that in the 21st century, women, mostly from South America, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union, are trafficked into the United States for the purposes of sexual slavery. A 2006 ABC News story stated that, contrary to existing misconceptions, American citizens may also be coerced into sex slavery.
In 2001 the United States State Department estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls are trafficked each year into the United States. In 2003, the State Department report estimated that a total of 18,000 to 20,000 individuals were trafficked into the United States for either forced labor or sexual exploitation. The June 2004 report estimated the total trafficked annually at between 14,500 and 17,500. The Bush administration set up 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million on attempts to reduce human trafficking. However, in the seven years since the law was passed, the administration has identified only 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States since 2000, nowhere near the 50,000 or more per year the government had estimated.
The Girl’s Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS), an organization based in New York, claims that the majority of girls in the sex trade were abused as children. Poverty and a lack of education play major roles in the lives of many women in the sex industry. According to a report conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, anywhere from 100,000 up to 300,000 American children at any given time may be at risk of exploitation due to factors such as drug use, homelessness, or other factors connected with increased risk for commercial sexual exploitation. However, the report emphasized, “The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases of CSEC in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children ‘at risk’ of commercial sexual exploitation.”
The 2010 Trafficking in Persons report described the United States as, "a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor, debt bondage, and forced prostitution." 
Sexual slavery in the United States may occur in multiple forms and in multiple venues. Sex trafficking in the United States may be present in Asian massage parlors, Mexican cantina bars, residential brothels, or street-based pimp-controlled prostitution. There is currently a debate among the anti-trafficking community in the United States over the extent of sexual slavery. Some groups arguing that exploitation is inherent in the act of commercial sex, while other groups take a stricter approach to defining sexual slavery, considering an element of force, fraud or coercion to be necessary for sex slavery to exist.
The prostitutes in illegal massage parlors may be forced to work out of apartment complexes for many hours a day. Many clients may not realize that some of the women who work in these massage sex parlors are actually forced in prostitution. The women may initially be lured into the US under false pretenses. In huge debt to their 'owners', they are then forced to earn enough to eventually buy their freedom. In some cases women who have been sex trafficked may have to undergo plastic surgery or even forced abortions. An article in the Berkeley University Press reports that human trafficking and sexual enslavement are not limited to any specific location or social class, and concludes that there is a strong reliance on individuals to report suspicious behavior, because the psychological and physical abuse occurs which can often leave a victim unable to escape on their own.
In 2000 Congress created the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act with tougher punishments for sex traffickers and also the creation of the possibility for former sex slaves to obtain a T-1 visa. To obtain the visa women must, "prove they were enslaved by 'force, fraud or coercion'." The visa allows former victims of sex trafficking to stay in the United States for 3 years and then apply for a green card.
In the United States 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.
Historical sexual slavery
White slavery 1804 letter to the editor of the Christian Observer and again in "A Letter on the Horrors of White Slavery" by Richard Oastler. In English-speaking countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the phrase "white slavery" was used to refer to sexual enslavement of white women. It was particularly associated with orientalist accounts of women enslaved in Middle Eastern harems, such as the so-called Circassian beauties. The phrase gradually came to be used as a euphemism for prostitution. The phrase was especially common in the context of the exploitation of minors, with the implication that children and young women in such circumstances were not free to decide their own fate.
Victorian Britain, campaigning journalist William Thomas Stead, (editor of the Pall Mall Gazette) procured a 13 year-old girl for £5, an amount then equal to a labourer's monthly wage (see the Eliza Armstrong case). Panic over the "traffic in women" rose to a peak in England in the 1880s. At the time, "white slavery" was a natural target for defenders of public morality and crusading journalists. The ensuing outcry led to the passage of antislavery legislation in Parliament.
Meanwhile in Argentina, the criminal organization Zwi Migdal operated in white slavery and prostitution from the 1860s until 1939.
Parliament passed the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, raising the age of consent from thirteen to sixteen in that year.
Chicago's U.S. attorney announced (without giving details) that an international crime ring was abducting young girls in Europe, importing them, and forcing them to work in Chicago brothels. These claims, and the panic they inflamed, led to the passage of the United States White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. It also banned the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes. Its primary intent was to address prostitution and immorality. The act is better known as the Mann Act, after James Robert Mann, an American lawmaker.
Chinese immigrants in the U.S. were singled out as white slavers, although any such activity was restricted to the criminal segment of the Chinese community. As an example of this in American culture, the musical comedy Thoroughly Modern Millie features a Chinese-run prostitution ring, which is specifically referred to as "white slavery". The gangster movie Prime Cut has mid-West white slaves sold like cattle.
Arab slave tradeSlave trade, including trade of sex slaves, fluctuated in certain regions in the Middle East up until the twentieth century. These slaves came largely from Sub-Saharan Africa (mainly Zanj), the Caucasus (mainly Circassians), Central Asia (mainly Turks), and Central and Eastern Europe (mainly Saqaliba). The Barbary pirates also captured 1.25 million slaves from Western Europe between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In contrast to the Atlantic slave trade where the male-female ratio was 2:1 or 3:1, the Arab slave trade usually had a higher female:male ratio instead, suggesting a general preference for female slaves. Concubinage and reproduction served as incentives for importing female slaves (often Caucasian), though many were also imported mainly for performing household tasks.
AsiaIn the 16th and 17th centuries, Portuguese visitors and their South Asian lascar (and sometimes African) crewmembers often engaged in slavery in Japan, where they bought or captured young Japanese women and girls, who were either used as sexual slaves on their ships or taken to Macau and other Portuguese colonies in Southeast Asia, the Americas, and India. For example, in Goa, a Portuguese colony in India, there was a community of Japanese slaves and traders during the late 16th and 17th centuries.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a network of Chinese and Japanese prostitutes being trafficked across Asia, in countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and British India, in what was then known as the ’Yellow Slave Traffic’. There was also a network of prostitutes from continental Europe being trafficked to India, Ceylon, Singapore, China and Japan at around the same time, in what was then known as the ’White Slave Traffic’.
During World War II, Japanese soldiers engaged in sexual slavery during their invasions across East Asia and Southeast Asia. The term "comfort women" is a euphemism for the estimated 200,000, mostly Korean, Chinese, and Filipino women who were forced into prostitution in Japanese military brothels during World War II.