For The Love of Siam

Modern Day Slavery

* Video is not suitable for children

The transatlantic slave trade that began during the 15th century, estimates that at it’s highest peak, there were 11 million people forced into slavery..[1]

Q. Does slavery still exist in our modern day world?…

According to the 2010 Trafficking in Person Report, there are estimated to be from 12.3 – 27 million adults and children that have been forced into labour, bonded labour, forced prostitution and domestic servitude around the world.[2]  Of that figure each year, hundreds and thousands of women and children around the world become victims of the global sex trade.  They are recruited into prostitution, often using tactics involving force, fraud, or coercion.  Criminals working in organised networks treat the victims like commodities, buying and selling them for profit.  This modern-day form of slavery is called ‘sex trafficking’.

The transnational flow of women and children for the sex trade occurs among sending, transit, and receiving countries.  Traffickers recruit victims in sending countries, where there is poverty, unemployment, or political instability that motivate people to seek work and opportunities in bigger cities or countries.   At the receiving end, the pimps await the arrival of the women and children they have ordered for their sex operations –  this happens within a country and to sending countries.[3]

Sex trafficking, slavery, and prostitution are not new forms of exploitative criminal activity. Over a hundred years ago, sex trafficking was called the “white slave trade” and prostitution was called “vice.”[4] Societies that value the freedom and dignity of people have long recognised the harm of these activities to women, families, and communities, and consider them incompatible with global standards for human rights.  

Having an awareness of trafficking for prostitution and understanding the dynamics of the ‘supply of women’ and the ‘demand*’ for victims reveals what keeps the system working.

Over the past decade, most of the investigation into the causes of sex trafficking have focused on factors in the sending countries.  And those seeking to combat trafficking have concentrated to stop it on the supply side by providing economic alternatives for women leaving situation of sexual exploitation through employment, education, job training and life skills and mentoring programs.[5]  Also prevention campaigns in sending countries to alert people about the immense scale of trafficking.  Potential vulnerable victims are warned and educated about the tactics used by recruiters and the consequences of trafficking, with the aim of reducing the supply of victims.  However there seems to have been few campaigns or efforts aimed at reducing the demand for victims.

The movement to abolish trafficking and sexual exploitation needs a more comprehensive approach, one that includes study of the demand side of trafficking, and develops practices to combat the demand in receiving countries.[6]   By looking at the demand side, it may help to make those more personally responsible and accountable for their behaviour that contributes to the sex trade.  



[1] BBC History. Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 18 May 2012

[2] US Department of State. Trafficking in Person Report 2010 p.7

[3] Donna M. Hughes, “Men create the demand; Women are the supply,” Lecture on Sexual Exploitation, Queen Sofia Centre, Valencia, Spain, November 2000.

[4] It was called the “white slave trade” in Europe to distinguish it from the African slave trade.

[5]   Social Reintegration Program offered at Nightlight International, Thailand, Bangkok

[6] Donna M. Hughes, “The 2002 Trafficking in Persons Report: Lost Opportunity for Progress,” Foreign Government Complicity in Human Trafficking: A Review of the State Department’s 2002 Trafficking in Persons Report, House Committee on International Relations.

* Demand – The demand is regulated by the ‘client /customer/Consumer’ market in any country.

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