The Gendered Dimensions of Sex Trafficking

By Madeleine Rees - Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Direct Link to Full 12-Page 2012 Document:



The entire trafficking cycle from beginning to end is highly gendered: from the root causes that make women vulnerable to trafficking, to the normalization and implicitness of demand, and the gendered institutional responses and policy approaches to anti-trafficking.

The author argues that the insistence on prioritizing law enforcement, migration and prostitution above human rights as the key factors of anti-trafficking response is to perform a profound misdiagnosis which has lasting and very negative consequences for the women trafficked.

The gendered nature of the trafficking cycle is explored and a response suggested based on lessons learned during time the author has spent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Three steps for approaching sex trafficking are outlined: first, a gendered understanding of the problem; secondly, an analysis of how gender affects institutional cultures, and finally, recognition of the agency of the women involved.