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Selling Sex Overseas

Chinese Women and the Realities of Prostitution and Global Sex Trafficking

Ko-lin Chin

Publication Year: 2012

Every year, thousands of Chinese women travel to Asia and the United States in order to engage in commercial sex work. In Selling Sex Overseas, Ko-lin Chin and James Finckenauer challenge the current sex trafficking paradigm that considers all sex workers as victims, or sexual slaves, and as unwilling participants in the world of commercial sex. Bringing to life an on-the-ground portrait of this usually hidden world, Chin and Finckenauer provide a detailed look at all of its participants: sex workers, pimps, agents, mommies, escort agency owners, brothel owners, and drivers. Ultimately, they probe the social, economic, and political organization of prostitution and sex trafficking, contradicting many of the ‘moral crusaders’ of the human trafficking world.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

We would like to express our gratitude to the many people who helped us with the research that is the basis for this book. First, we thank all the Chinese sex workers (or xiaojies as they are called in China), who agreed to take part in our research and who willingly shared their stories with us. We owe our deepest thanks to these women, who are anonymous except for some...

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1. What Is Sex Trafficking?

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pp. 1-33

Within the space of just three years, in different parts of the world, three women were brought to justice for their roles in what has become a high profile form of global crime. There are a number of common threads among these women and their cases. They exemplify in microcosm a host of issues that surround the illicit movement of people around the world. ...

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2. Going Down to the Sea

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pp. 34-50

In the late 1970s, not long after the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) was over, China reestablished ties with the West and adopted its Open Door policy.1 China also began to move from a centrally planned economy to a marketoriented economy. Government-owned enterprises crumbled quickly in the face of the rising private ventures. ...

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3. The Women

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pp. 51-75

Little is actually known about the women who sell sex overseas. The general assumption is that they are most likely young, have little education, and come from poor families, usually in rural areas.1 Indeed, the image of the typical sex trafficking victim presented by the media, as well as by many government agencies and nongovernmental organizations, is that of a young...

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4. The Destinations

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pp. 76-117

According to some of the people we talked to, the outmigration of Chinese women is so massive nowadays that they believe Chinese prostitutes can be found in almost every corner of the world. Not only can they be spotted in wealthy, developed countries such as the United States and Japan, but also in poor, underdeveloped countries such as Burma (Myanmar) and Cambodia. ...

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5. The Sex Markets

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pp. 118-146

When Chinese women go overseas to engage in prostitution, there are a number of ways for them to make money. They can, for example, work independently, meaning they do not have to rely on anyone else. Although at first blush this may seem improbable, given that they are in a foreign country and engaging in an illicit activity, the women with whom we spoke...

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6. The Traffickers

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pp. 147-169

A “trafficker” can be a recruiter, a transporter, a pimp, a sex venue owner, or anyone else who plays a role in the business of transnational prostitution. Thus, the word “trafficker” is normally used in the sex trafficking literature to refer to all the actors who are involved in the recruitment of women in the countries of origin, their transportation across national borders...

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7. Supply and Demand: Follow the Money

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pp. 170-200

One of the weaknesses of much of the study of sex trafficking has been the lack of information and discussion about its financial aspects. An exception is the generally accepted estimate that human trafficking is a $32 billion-a-year business.1 Suffice it to say that there is great deal of estimation that goes into substantiating that claim. ...

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8. Response and Rescue: How the System Works

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pp. 201-229

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 2000. That law was aimed at accomplishing “Three Ps” (prosecuting traffickers, protecting victims, and preventing human trafficking) as well as a victim-centered “Three Rs” (rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration). ...

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9. The Reality and the Myths: A Critical Analysis of Sex Trafficking

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pp. 230-253

According to the prevailing trafficking paradigm as described in chapter 1, sex trafficking can be divided into the following stages: (1) the recruitment of potential victims by recruiters, (2) the transportation of victims by traffickers, (3) the selling of victims to brothel owners by stakeholders, be they recruiters, traffickers, or human traders who pay for the traveling expenses...

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10. The Politics of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

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pp. 254-279

According to sociologist Kevin Bales, who has written widely about what he deems contemporary human slavery, at any given time some twenty-seven million people are enslaved. One piece of this slavery — human trafficking — is said to generate $32 billion in profits annually.1 These are huge and impressive numbers. In fact, according to some anti-trafficking advocates...


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pp. 281-292


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pp. 293-303


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pp. 305-309

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About the Authors

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pp. 311

Ko-lin Chin is Professor II (Distinguished) at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University – Newark and author of many books, including Heijin: Organized Crime, Business, and Politics in Taiwan, and Golden Triangle: Inside Southeast Asia’s Drug Trade. James O. Finckenauer was Professor II (Distinguished) at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University – Newark...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814769683
E-ISBN-10: 0814772579
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814772577
Print-ISBN-10: 0814772579

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2012