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Evidence on women trafficked for sexual exploitation: A rights based analysis


  • Francesca Bettio


  • Tushar K. Nandi



The aim of this paper is to investigate which factors influence the pattern of enforcement (violation) of basic rights among women trafficked for sexual exploitation. A conceptual frameworkis adopted where the degree of agency and the possibility to influence the terms of sex-based transactions are seen as conditional on the enforcement of some basic rights. Using IOM data on women assisted in exiting from trafficking for sexual exploitation, we investigate the enforcement (violation) of five uncompromisable rights, namely the right to physical integrity, to move freely, to have access to medical care, to use condoms, and to exercise choice over sexual services. By combining classification trees analysis and ordered probit estimation we find that working location and country of work are the main determinants of rights enforcement, while individual and family characteristics play a marginal role. Specifically, we find that (i) in lower market segments working on the street is comparatively less ‘at risk’ of rights violation; (ii) there is no consistently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ country of work, but public awareness on trafficking within the country is important; (iii) the strength of organized crime in the country of work matters only in conjunction with other local factors, and (iv) being trafficked within one’s country, as opposed to being trafficked internationally, is associated with higher risk of rights violation

Suggested Citation

  • Francesca Bettio & Tushar K. Nandi, 2008. "Evidence on women trafficked for sexual exploitation: A rights based analysis," Department of Economics University of Siena 543, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:543

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marina Giusta & Maria Tommaso & Steinar Strøm, 2009. "Who is watching? The market for prostitution services," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 501-516, April.
    2. Rajeev Patel & Radhika Balakrishnan & Uma Narayan, 2007. "Transgressing rights: La Via Campesina's call for food sovereignty / Exploring collaborations: Heterodox economics and an economic social rights framework / Workers in the informal sector: Special cha," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(1), pages 87-116.
    3. Di Tommaso Maria Laura & Shima Isilda & Steinar Strom & Bettio Francesca, 2007. "As Bad as it Gets: Well Being Deprivation of Sexually Exploited Trafficked women," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 200703, University of Turin.
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    Cited by:

    1. Niklas Potrafke, 2016. "Policies against human trafficking: the role of religion and political institutions," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 353-386, November.
    2. Niklas Jakobsson & Andreas Kotsadam, 2013. "The law and economics of international sex slavery: prostitution laws and trafficking for sexual exploitation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 87-107, February.
    3. Seo-Young Cho, 2012. "Modeling for Determinants of Human Trafficking," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 216, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Jakobsson, Niklas & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2015. "The Economics of Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation," Memorandum 07/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    5. Ugo Pagano, 2013. "Love, war and cultures: an institutional approach to human evolution," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 41-66, April.
    6. Seo-Young Cho, 2015. "Modeling for Determinants of Human Trafficking: An Empirical Analysis," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 3(1), pages 2-21.

    More about this item


    human trafficking; sexual exploitation; basic rights; classification and regression trees; ordered probit;

    JEL classification:

    • J49 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Other
    • J8 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions

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