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Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight

Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight

by Stephanie Hepburn, Rita J. Simon

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This unprecedented study of sex trafficking, forced labor, organ trafficking, and sex tourism across twenty-four nations highlights the experiences of the victims, perpetrators, and anti-traffickers involved in this brutal trade. Combining statistical data with intimate accounts and interviews, journalist Stephanie Hepburn and justice scholar Rita J. Simon create a


This unprecedented study of sex trafficking, forced labor, organ trafficking, and sex tourism across twenty-four nations highlights the experiences of the victims, perpetrators, and anti-traffickers involved in this brutal trade. Combining statistical data with intimate accounts and interviews, journalist Stephanie Hepburn and justice scholar Rita J. Simon create a dynamic volume sure to educate and spur action.

Hepburn and Simon recount the lives of victims during and after their experience with trafficking, and they follow the activities of traffickers before capture and their outcomes after sentencing. Each chapter centers on the trafficking practices and anti-trafficking measures of a single country: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Niger, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Syria, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Examining these nations' laws, Hepburn and Simon reveal gaps in legislation and enforcement and outline the cultural norms and biases, societal assumptions, and conflicting policies that make trafficking scenarios so pervasive and resilient. This study points out those most vulnerable in each nation and the specific cultural, economic, environmental, and geopolitical factors that contribute to each nation's trafficking issues. Furthermore, the study also highlights common phenomena that governments and international anti-traffickers should consider in their fight against this illicit trade.

Editorial Reviews

Christa Steward
This is an original contribution in that it compiles agreat deal of information and analyzes it within the given factors ofa country's position as it relates to trafficking. While it includesa great deal of secondary sources such as media accounts,this compilation is useful to the reader to understand the traffickingcontext within the country.
Christa Stewart
Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon make an effective case that while the specifics of trafficking vary depending on its focal point, there are certain constants. In their review of a range of countries, they demonstrate that economics, geography, civil unrest, societal inequality, and gender disparities play a major role in how trafficking manifests itself.
Lori J. Johnson
I recommend this comprehensive study to anyone wanting to understand the fight against the modern-day slavetrade. The book stands apart by augmenting nation-by-nation accounts of trafficking realities with critiques of existing local anti-trafficking measures and consideration of local obstacles. Supported by diverse sources, the authors set forth clear policy recommendations to combat trafficking.
Carol Bews
Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are complex issues which differ in nature from country to country, and very often accounts of human trafficking are based on anecdotal evidence. Hepburn and Simon managed to delve beneath the surface of policies and legislation within the various countries that they studied by involving those who are involved at a grass root level and have come up with a fascinating account of these practices in the various countries covered in their book.
Gretchen Kuhner
This volume demonstrates ways in which global migration policies and programs facilitate human trafficking by focusing on law enforcement rather than promoting uniform labor standards. Its broad focus helps readers compare practices among countries and understand the transnational impact of national legislation and policies on human trafficking around the globe.
Washington Post - John Tirman
an immensely learned and informative piece of work, much needed to prod and set aright the misperceptions and lethargy that beset this disturbing issue.
Kirkus Reviews
A meticulous academic study grasping the vast scope of an evolving global problem. Journalist Hepburn (co-author: Women's Roles and Statuses the World Over, 2006, etc.) and Simon (Public Affairs and Law/American Univ.; co-author: Immigration the World Over, 2003, etc.) carefully define the many forms of human exploitation, which are shockingly prevalent from the poorest to the richest countries. The authors have sifted through documentation increasingly available--such as the Trafficking in Persons Report compiled annually by the U.S. State Department, studies by the United Nations, NGOs, newspapers and court cases--and have chosen 24 countries that offer a representative sampling of the worldwide "trafficking scenario" in terms of economics, geopolitics and culture. Many countries are only now being compelled to address the problem, and the issues of definition plague official statistics and efforts at enforcement. For example, labor trafficking (such as debt bondage) is as much a part of human exploitation as sex trafficking, though not often included in the same statistics. The authors group the countries not geographically but by a thematic commonality. For example, the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates are all hugely wealthy countries attractive to traffickers because of their need for inexpensive labor and the allowing of visa loopholes that encourage the enslavement of foreign migrants. The influx of victims trafficked to the Gulf Region after hurricanes Katrina and Rita provide cases in point, as does the reluctance by Japan to address its "hyperthriving" sex industry and yakuza (organized crime) network. Other themes around which countries are grouped include stateless persons, such as the hill tribe people of Thailand and the Palestinians; unrest and displacement (Iraq, Syria); gender apartheid (Iran); social hierarchy (China); and muti murder, or the abduction and murder of people for the purpose of harvesting body parts (South Africa). The authors also consider what happens to traffickers and victims after apprehension. Difficult reading at times, but immensely well-documented and useful.
Library Journal
Journalist Hepburn and professor Simon (public affairs, American Univ.; coauthor, with Hepburn, Women's Roles and Statuses the World Over) offer an excellent, authoritative study of human trafficking of all varieties in 24 countries, along with an examination of attempts by those countries to combat the profitable worldwide slave trade of men, women, and children. Organized by country, this work delves into the lives of both traffickers and their victims, provides an understanding of the forms of trafficking that exist today (e.g., forced labor, organ trafficking, sex tourism) and why they are profitable, and analyzes steps taken by various nations in their fight against human slavery. Thoughtful and sound suggestions for legislative policy as well as cultural tools to end human trafficking in its various forms are provided. Similar works include Louise Shelley's Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective. VERDICT Superior and well written, this is the rare resource that is both scholarly and approachable, making it a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of international human trafficking and the human slave trade as a growing worldwide problem.—Reba Kennedy, San Antonio

Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Meet the Author

Stephanie Hepburn is an independent journalist whose work has been published in Americas Quarterly, USA Today U-Wire, and Gender Issues. She is a weekly and monthly contributing writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the Washington College of Law at American University, she integrates her legal and journalism backgrounds to create pieces that are highly informative and have a human tone. Her book with Rita J. Simon, Women's Roles and Statuses the World Over, was named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice,

Rita J. Simon is a University Professor in the School of Public Affairs and the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C. She has published more than forty books and is currently the editor of Gender Issues.

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