Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Summary and Key Points of "Sex-Trafficking: Inside The Business of Modern Slavery"

I found this book to be the best written book I have read so far, for its analysis the business and industry. It was very understandable and provided me with a deep and number rich analysis.Kara’s argument is that “the most effective measures to eradicate the global sex-trafficking industry are those that reduce the aggregate demand for sex slaves by slave owners and consumers through an attack on the industry’s immense profitability” (xv).  He also compares sex-trafficking to a disease, saying that the host organism “that first gave rise to the infection” needs to be tackled first before moving on: he names economic globalization (IMF policies) and poverty as the infectors. “Globalization helped make present-day slaves easy to procure, easy to transport, and easy to exploit in an increasing number of industries” (24).  Current work and solutions to the problem does not work as efficiently as one would like: “current anti-trafficking efforts primarily seek to crack down on modern-day slave traders, resulting in little more than adjustments in routes, larger bribes to border guards, and the procurement of false travel documents.”
Kara wants to make a clear statement about sex-trafficking, that it is the ‘profit-maximizing version of prostitution” (33). 

Components of Slavery
 Slavery, he explains, has two interconnecting components: slavery (demand side) and trafficking (supply side). There are three steps to the process: acquisition, movement and exploitation (5). Acquisition of slaves takes place in five ways: deceit (slaves in refugee camps), sale of family, abduction, seduction or romance (false marriages), or recruitment by former slaves.
The movement of slaves in European countries is facilitated by the interconnectiveness of the EU, especially when the flow of slaves moves from poorer nations to richer nations- which are neighboring nations in Europe.
These women are sold in all different venues, dependent upon the culture. Kara describes the point of sale for slaves to slaveholders: “such sales take place at established buyer’s markets, where victims are forced to strip naked to be inspected by potential buyers for deformities, venereal diseases, and overall attractiveness” (12).
Breaking a slave in is the first step after acquiring and trafficking a woman. Kara describes examples of “breaking in”. Here is one about a young woman named Tatyana: “When I left home with the agents (she thought she was getting a job offer), they raped me and they did not feed me for days. They forced me to urinate in my clothes” (12). “Another victim was taken to a hotel by her alleged job agent and raped by six German men for several days in a row. Malliaka told me that sex slave were tortured and murdered every day. She told me that minors were given opium so they would have sex with clients. If they misbehaved, arms were broken. If they tried to escape, they might have their throats cut in front of other slaves, who were subsequently required to clean up the slaughter as a visceral lessons in the fate that awaited them should they try to escape” (12).
Again, drugs and alcohol are used to put the girls into a passive and dazed state. Tatyana says “When I did not want to drink , the protector (name of pimps in Italy) injected me with tranquilizers for animals.”

Fear in Victims
There are many reasons why victims do not trust outside help (see blog post for more reasons here). Kara  offers another reason why: “Brothel owners and pimps often devised ways to test the loyalties of their slave, who in turn received positive treatment if they passed or severe punishments if they failed These tests, such as planting a fake- human rights worker promising freedom for information, created overwhelming distrust in victims.” Police, in some countries, are also the purchasers of sex.

Aftercare Help
The lack of services for victims worldwide is pitiful. Shelters in Italy require victims to “sign a contact stipulating cooperation with the authorities…and forced to testify” in order to receive help (16). Kara is clear about the fact that we are lacking in many ways world-wide in combating sex-trafficking: “ even if sex-trafficking ended today, there would be over one million women and children in the need of shelter, health care, counseling, and vocational training” (43).
Number of sex-trafficked victims has been a high topic of discussion. Kara estimates that the total annual number of individuals trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation is between 500,000 and 600,000, out of the total number of annual human trafficked victims of 1.5 to 1.8 million (17). He says only 4.2 percent of slaves worldwide are trafficked sex slaves; however, the industry earns 39.1 percent of slaveholders’ profits (19).
‘Approximately 6 out of 10 slaves in the world are bonded labors in South Asia’ (64).
Domestically, 90% of Thai men have visited a prostitute at least once. Half had their first sexual encounter with one” (176). 

Sex-Trafficking as an Industry
Kara analyzes the industry of sex-trafficking, calculating the growth rate, revenue, drivers of demand and supply. I find approach and analysis so fascinating; the economics behind the crime show such vitality in the industry and provide solutions through economic paths. Coming from a business school, I find the analysis to be completely understandable and worthwhile. Kara produces a lot of tables, including the Sex-Trafficking Industry’s growth rate and size. Here are key points from the exhibits: “Asian countries have the highest total number of slaves, but on a per capita basis, Europe has the highest level of sex slavery in the world” (17). “At the present the sex trafficking industry is akin to a mature, multinational corporation that has achieved steady-state growth and produces immense cash flows. Assuming a 3.5% growth rate for the next 5 years, there would be 1.48 million sex slaves by the end of 2012.” (17).
He produces another two tables that outline the revenues from slave-trading and slavery in 2007. The main points from these tables are: “The sale of trafficked (just the movement of people, not exploitation**) sex slaves to brothel owners and pimps generated revenues of $1.0 billion in 2007, or a global average slave price of $1,985 per slave.  After costs, these sales generated approximately $600 million in profits. The commercial exploitation of trafficked sex slaves generated $51.3 billion in revenue in 2007, the result of millions of men purchasing sex from slave every day. After costs, the slaves’ exploiters cleared $35.7 billion in profits, or a global average of $29,210 per slave. The total revenue generated by the exploitation of all victims of human trafficking in 2007 was $58.6 billion, with profits of$39.7 billion. The total revenue generated by all forms of contemporary slavery in 2007 was a staggering $152.3 billion, with profits of $91.2 billion” (page 19).

Economics of Sex-Trafficking
The sex-trafficking industry like all has a demand side and a supply side that have factors that play a role to its growth: “several factors have contributed to the supply of potential slaves labor throughout history, including poverty, bias against gender or ethnicity, lawlessness, military conflict, social instability, and economic breakdown. Each factor was important to the accretion of the supply of contemporary sex slaves. Each factor was also directly exacerbated by the sweeping phenomenon of economic globalizations- that is, those aspects of globalization related to the increased economic integration of the world through the unfettered profusion of American- style capitalism” (23). Bias towards gender is seen in these examples that Kara gave: “ 600 million of the 850 million illiterate adults in the world are women and that a lack of education is a key factor in promoting poverty, higher HIV infection rates, and vulnerability to exploitation and trafficking” (UN Literacy Decade): “ In India, 15,000 women are murdered each year over dowry disputes, even though the dowry system is illegal”(UNIFEM):  “In Africa, 6,000 women are genitally mutilated each, upwards of two million per year” (Ibid).

Demand for Sex
On the demand side, there are three market forces: male sexual demand, profit (as related to the inverse relationship with labor costs) and the elasticity of demand (33). “Depending on assumptions related to frequency of purchase per consumer, anywhere from 6% to 9% of males in the world over the age of eighteen actually purchase sex from slaves at some point each year” (33). The market of sex-trafficking also shifts due to the price of sex. Lower the price of sex and the demand will increase, due to the allowance of lower income people to purchase sex. Increase the price of sex and the demand falls, making the purchase of sex exclusive to those whose income is sufficient enough.  “The elasticity of demand is the most powerful drive of the demand side of the sex trafficking industry” (34).   Kara calculates the cost of sex in hours and explains the elasticity of the industry: “Assuming an eight hour workday and 260 workdays a year (for a male worker, not the sex slave), in India, the price of sex act from a slave requires 2.5 hours of work at the 2006 national per capita income of $3,339. Exclude the 850 million Indians who live on $2 per day, and the required hours of work drop by more than half. In Italy, 2.2 hours of work are required at the national per capital income of $30,921. In the United States, it is around 1.4 hours. Now imagine you are a day laborer, taxi driver, or garbage collector and you could trade two hours of work for one hour of sex.  How often would you do it? If the current magnitude of the sex trafficking industry is any indication, the answer is: all the time.  … The logical question is to ask is what would happen to consumer demand if the price instead required six or nine hours of work? What if the price were raised above the threshold of a consumer’s monthly disposable income?” (34). Kara plots the demands lines for gasoline (inelastic: meaning when the price goes up, the demands says steady due to lack of substitutes and necessity), movie tickets (elastic:  meaning that an increase in the price results in a decrease in demand due the nature of the product- non- essential and a treat), and sex acts (highly elastic).  The elasticity of demands were calculated by surveying buyers.  Kara makes a solid point when analyzing the demand curve of sex acts, which steadying decreases when the price rises from $5.50 to $6: “Even if the day laborers were not priced out of the market, basic economic theory suggests that any increase in retail price- which is economically the same as a drop in income- would result in a greater than linear decrease in demand, because consumers always increase consumption, ‘by not as much as the increase in their income’ and they similarly decrease consumption more than the decrease in their income. If real-world prices would be doubled and achieve a decrease in demand by even one-half the amount predicted by the data I gathered, the profitability of the sex trafficking industry would be severely compromised… the most effective strategy against sex trafficking would be to erode its profitability. As the costs of being a sex-slave owner retailer are elevated, the slave owner must either forfeit profit or raise price, in either scenario demand drops (37).

Failures in Legal Systems
Kara also gives examples of the market failures found in the law-enforcement side of the sex-trafficking business, those being “  1) confusion over the definition of trafficking, which focuses more on movement rather than exploitation; 2) corruption in law enforcement, border control, judicial systems; 3) lack of international coordination and cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking criminals; 4) lack of specific law enforcement focus on slave-related crimes, or underfunded special law enforcement when it exists; 5)feeble enforcement of law and minimal prosecution of sex traffickers; 6) insufficient protections for victims, whose testimony is required to convict sex traffickers; 7) inefficient law that have little economic effect of sex-traffickers” (38). Kara describers here the reasons in the legal side that create hardship in the attempt to combat that sex trafficking.   For example, in the US, where the legal system is arguably less corrupt than others and has a police force has only convicted 140 traffickers in 91 human trafficking cases in a period of four years, from 2001 to 2005 (40).  In these four years, 75,000 to 100,000 new trafficking victims enter the US (40). The conviction rate is about 3-4%. This highlights a reason why sex-trafficking thrives: low risk and high rewards. Kara suggests that ‘inverting the risk- reward economics should be top priority of police makes across the globe. 
Kara suggests seven main strategies to combat sex-trafficking; they include the creation of an international slavery and trafficking inspection force, trained and paid community vigilance committees (such as taxi drivers, business owners, etc.),  raids against places where there are suspected sex trafficked victims,  an increase in salary for anti-trafficking personal (judges, police, organizations),  ‘fast-track’ courts that prosecute trafficking crimes, witness protection for victims, and a significant increase in the penalties for being charged with sex-trafficking to ‘elevate the real risk of sex trafficking to an economically detrimental level’ (42).

India and Three Tiered Red Light District
In India, there are three levels of women in their sex-industry: slavery and debt bondage, adhiya, lodgers.  I will focus on the statements made on the two which are not ‘slaves’ as a way to understand the difference between slavery and ‘choice’ (yes you can argue that prostitution is not a choice regardless of the situation but for right now we will disregard that).  The adhiya prostitutes that Kara meets were all former slaves and wished for a different profession and life.  In this model, adhiya receive half of their revenues and the other half goes to her pimp. They have choice over clients but understand that they have to make a certain level of money. Pimps use adhiya to suggest to new slaves that they should be docile and then they can become ‘free’ one day like adhiya (55). Lodgers work voluntarily in brothel rooms they have rented out, which amounts to 15-20% of their revenue.
The life expectancy of a slave in the red-light district in Mumbai is seldom survived past mid-thirties, according to Manju Vyas (15).

Nigerian Slaves
It was interesting to see in most of the countries that Kara studied, there was talk about Nigerian slaves.  Nigeria is one of the world’s poorest countries, thus making job offers and dreams of a better life a trap that leads to trafficking. I thought this passage was important to understand the mentality of the Nigeria victims, who find stuck in rituals and traditions: “ before the journey begins, the woman must undergo specific juju rites, in which the women’s public hair, nails and menstrual blood are collected and placed before a traditional shrine. During the ritual, the woman is made to swear oath to repay her debt, never to report to the police, and never to discuss the nature of her trip with anyone. Failing to uphold these oaths results in grave misfortune for the woman and her family. These rituals create a powerful hold over the victim, so much that almost no Nigerian trafficking victims ever attempt to escape sex slavery before repaying their debts. Unlike the Eastern European street prostitutes I saw in Rome, no protectors kept a watchful eye on the Nigerians. When Nigerian victims are rescued and asked to discuss their ordeal, some enter into trances of suffer fits” (91).  Protectors( the name of pimps in Italy) use the women’s culture to manipulate them into slavery.
Kara also observes an influx of Nigerian slaves in Thailand, in which, the price of a Nigerian sex slave is twice the price of a Thai slave.
Kara explores the industry of sex-trafficking in Amsterdam, in which he observes that the country actually a great place to bring sex trafficking victims due to the legalization of prostitution. “ The combination of minimum labor costs through the exploitation of slave labor and maximum retail prices afforded by legality made Amsterdam a compelling venue for any sex trafficker…. The primary problem with the Dutch government’s position is that it does not allow the police to register prostitution and medical checkups are not compulsory.” (102). See Legalization of Prostitution for ideas for this. 

Moldova, a country which I have not spent time trying to understand, was the most shocking study in Kara’s book. Moldova is a prime target to finding victims to traffic, due to the countries dire economic standing. “Because Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, desperation for income is the Moldovan trafficker’s top recruitment tool. False job promises are utilized in 8 out of 10 trafficking cases. The remaining recruitment schemes include false travel agencies, false marriage offers and abduction” (109).  80% of Moldova’s households in 2008 were unable to generate more than $48 in income per month, which factors out to less than $1.60 a day (less that your cup of coffee) (115). As I learned in Turkey during my studies that 60% of women felt as though they deserved to be beaten, so do the women in Moldova: “ …when I asked a women in Balti what recourse she had against a husband who beat her regularly, she replied ‘In America, you call the police, in Moldova, we call it tradition’ “(124). The women believe that the degrading of women is in their culture, but highlight the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lack of law enforcement to be main players as well: “men beat us because they know nothing will happen to them” (124). This is seen in the numbers behind convictions: “According to Holly Wiseman of the U.S. State Department in Chisinau, in 2004, Moldovan courts handed down sixteen convictions for trafficking persons, seventy-five for pimping, and seven for trafficking children. Of these ninety-five total cases, only sixteen involved prison time. None of the traffickers were fined” (125).

As a student who has spent a lot of time invested in studying (and loving) Turkish culture and the country, the information in Kara’s book pointed to a dirty, ugly underside of Turkey that I had never been made aware of.  One of the most interesting points of his book is the discussion of Turkey and its EU status. If Turkey, one of the most bountiful destinations for sex traffickers, gained EU status, the ease of trafficking victims would significantly increase: “Passports from any of these countries would allow an individual to more freely to any other EU Nation…. Turkish entry to the EU would only increase levels of re-trafficking from Turkey, as criminals could use the country as a legal stepping stone to Western Europe” (117). Turkey is also a main contributor to the sex tourism industry, in which men travel to different countries to buy sex. Even so that Turkish Airlines added more flights to a prime destination in Moldova due to increased demand for flights: “Turkish Airlines added more flights to Chisinau from Istanbul; currently two flights per day, which is more than any other airline from any particular city to Chisinau” (119). 
To understand sex-trafficking, one must be well rehearsed in the cultures that the issue lies in. Albania has a very biased view on women, so much so that it encouraged to turn into a man. “Being female under Kanun tradition can be so oppressive that there are actually prescriptions that allow a woman to liberate herself by becoming a man. An Albanian virgjinesha (‘sworn virgin’) transforms into a man by swearing to virginity and renouncing all aspects of life related to femaleness. After taking the virgin oath, the virgjinesha adopts the name equivalent of her name, cuts her hair short, dresses like a man, works like a man, smokes, drinks, and recreates with other men, and governs her family with male authority. She is even referred to as a ‘he.’ … without a husband; the virgin oath is the only way for a woman to survive in a community that doesn’t allow women to live alone” (130). False marriage, as one would think, was the main way to trick women into being trafficked. 

Solutions to Sex- Trafficking
Kara’s last chapter of his books thoroughly discusses his idea for attacking the industry of sex through inverting its risk-reward economics. “The best short-term tactics against the industry are those that reduce the aggregate demand of consumers and slave owners. The most effective way to reduce aggregate demand is to attack the industry’s immense profitability by inverting its risk-reward economics, that is, by making the risk of operating a sex slave operation far more costly. To ensure that the business of sex trafficking and other forms of modern slavery are eradicated in the long term, the primary conditions that first gave rise to these crimes- poverty and the destruction asymmetric of economic globalization- must be addressed” (201). 
The salaries for poorer countries’ judges, law enforcement and other crucial persona in the prosecution of criminals and upholding of laws have lower salaries than they would like, therefore, they are more inclined to take bribes. Increase their salary and they will be less compelled to take bribes for financial reasons.  Or in other words “bribes will not work with a well-paid, international police” (211).
Kara analyzes the business-chain of sex-trafficking to identify opportunities to combat and decrease trafficking. There are four players in the chain: crudely put the product is the victim, wholesalers is the slave trader, the retailer is the slave owner, and the consumer.  In the victim/product area, there are two anti-trafficking efforts: awareness campaigns and local education and job training, but the impact is small due to limited resources and opportunities and as well as the campaigns being too small in scale (Table 8.1 204). To stop trafficking in the wholesale category, border patrol and prosecution is being used; again the impact is small due to the inability to securely watch the borders, as well as corruption with border patrol, as well as limited resources to persecute and weak witness protection.  In general, he offers solutions which include “long term anti-poverty initiatives and redress of harms of economic globalization, raising the real cost of operating a business with slave labor to a profit-compromising level,  and higher prices to decrease demand” (Table 8.1 204).  There are two measures that Kara believes are most likely to reduce aggregate demand for sex slaves; they are raising costs of being caught and shortening the average duration of slavery  (thus being able to not recover costs)(215).

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