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Researching and Rethinking Sex Trafficking: The Movement of Chinese Women to Asia and the United States for Commercial Sex

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2011
204 pages
This analysis of the illicit movement of women from China to destinations throughout Asia and the United States for the purpose of prostitution aims to evaluate the problems and prospects of combating this crime.
The study focuses on the economic aspects of smuggling, trafficking, and prostitution; the social adjustment and settlement patterns of the women; their victimization and exploitation by traffickers and sex industry operators; and the individual and group characteristics of traffickers and their links with gangs and organized crime. The profiles of the trafficked women interviewed revealed significant diversity in backgrounds: older as well as younger women; well-educated and poorly educated women; and married, formerly married, and single. Four in 10 of the women interviewed had engaged in prostitution in China prior to moving to another country to engage in prostitution. Economic factors were the driving force behind the women's choices. Clearly, more occupational and economic opportunity for women in China would reduce the pressure on women to engage in prostitution and sex trafficking; however, once these women had made the decision to enter into prostitution, many were then receptive to or actively sought moving abroad with the expectation they would increase their earnings from prostitution. Recognizing that these women choose to participate in commercial sex for economic reasons largely due to their backgrounds of limited options for alternative lifestyles and occupations must be part of efforts to reduce the appeal and motivational factors that fuel the sex trafficking of Chinese women. The study encompassed 10 research sites, 8 in Asia and 2 in the United States. Between December 2006 and August 2008, researchers conducted 350 face-to-face interviews with women who engage in commercial sex, sex ring operators, government officials/law enforcement officials, and other key informants with knowledge about the sex trafficking industry. 14 tables, 4 figures, and appended questionnaires and guidelines for interviews

Date Published: February 1, 2011