The Economics of Sex Slavery

“Slavery still exists,” said author Siddharth Kara, who spoke about sex trafficking at the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University. “For every 1.4 hours of labor in the United States, a person can get one hour of commercial sex.”

Kara is the author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Kara doesn’t focus on the humanitarian issues of sex trafficking, but on the economic aspect of the trade. The author, a former investment banker and business executive with an MBA from Columbia University, argued that the supply and demand structure of the global economy makes sex trafficking a lucrative business and difficult to eradicate.

“The ‘slave trading’ is the supply side and the ‘slavery’ is the demand side,” he said. “Both of these components together make for a very sophisticated business.”

Since there is a constant demand for commercial sex, a slave purchased for $10,000 could end up making her owner $160,000 in profits before she dies or runs away, he said.

According to Kara, the main problems facing a movement to combat human trafficking are awareness and resources.

“Three hundred times more money is spent to fight drug trafficking than human trafficking,” Kara said. “More funding is needed for inspection forces and the protection of victims and families during trials.”

via Lauren Mogannam at The Daily Northwestern


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