AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts women''s studies professor Janice Raymond has received two prestigious grants totaling $449,000 to study the impact of sex trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. The grants have been awarded to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, an international human rights non-profit organization that Raymond co-directs.
One grant, for $189,000, comes from the U.S. Department of Justice and is funded under the Violence Against Women Act. It will finance a 20-month-long study of sex trafficking in three U.S. cities: New York, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. Through interviews with non-profit organizations, refugee groups, social service workers, law enforcement officers, and women who have either survived or are currently in prostitution, Raymond will explore the links in these cities between domestic sex industries and international trafficking networks.
"The project will attempt to describe the social consequences of sex trafficking at home by examining patterns of crime, health, and violence against women in these cities," Raymond says. "In addition, we will attempt to show that sex trafficking is a complex system dependent on international and domestic linkages."
The second grant will fund a two-year study into female migration patterns in Asia, Latin America, and North America and show how these are linked to sex tourism, mail-order-bride arrangements, and domestic labor. This grant, from the Ford Foundation, is worth $260,000.
"An unfortunate side of the evolving global marketplace is that it is being accompanied by a comparable globalization of the sex industry," Raymond says. "Patterns of female sexual exploitation are being internationalized, so that prostitution rings are being run almost like large multinational corporations. As a result, women are being moved from one country to another for the express purpose of being used in the sex industry. Our study will explore this phenomenon while specifically documenting the health burden of migrant trafficking on women."
According to Raymond, the United Nations estimates that four million people, mostly women and girls, are trafficked throughout the world each year. Among these are: girls as young as 13 who have been trafficked from Mexico into the United States; hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian women who have been trafficked into the U.S. since the collapse of the Soviet economy; and 5,000 women of Chinese descent who are reported to have been trafficked into prostitution in Los Angeles.
Raymond notes that there are both large- and small-scale networks of recruiters. While many are related to organized crime, some are made up of relatives and neighbors who gain the women''s trust in their countries of origin. However, Raymond emphasizes that the supply of women trafficked from abroad into the U.S. could not function without "buyer" demand for so-called "exotic" women from other countries, and that U.S. sex clubs, massage parlors, and brothels capitalize on this demand.
"Sex trafficking is a gross violation of human rights," says Raymond. "The costs in health and human services number in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And, of course, the human costs are immeasurable."