Poverty, Prostitution, slavery and trafficking

As we unpack the root causes of prostitution and human trafficking we begin to realize that this issue relates to socio-economic standings. Those who suffer from an impoverished life style are more inclined to participate in prostitution or fall into the victim categorization of human trafficking. We also recognize the connection of gender, sex and race when discussing economic status. With that being said, women who identify or fall into the categories of minority groups are often the majority represented in prostitution. Furthermore, those people or children who come from uneducated areas are more likely to be subjected to human trafficking. Both prostitution and human trafficking demonstrate forms of ecological, gender and race injustices. I will speak of how socio-economic statuses along with education standards, relate to other factors such as gender and race and how these contribute to situations of prostitution and child trafficking. I will draw specifically on Women in Street Prostitution: The Result of Poverty and the Brunt of Inequity by Jacquelyn Monroe and Modern day slavery: poverty and child trafficking in Nigeria by Olubukola S. Adesina to emphasize these contributing factors.

The issues revolving around prostitution becomes an issue of gender inequality because of the foundations of our country in particular. North America was built on the basis of patriarchal views and this how our created countries (Canada and U.S) understand the world. With that being said, women in countries such as Canada and United States of America suffer from discrimination and we most vividly see this as we analyse the working world. Discrepancies in wages are a huge component to the justification; women are paid less and are offered very few benefits in comparison to men. This unequal distribution of salaries is an “act of oppression against women in a patriarchal society” (Monroe 71). In order to compensate wages women choose prostitution where they are faced with many gender vulnerable obstacles. Monroe states that “patriarchy is based in psychological and biological factors and enforced through violence against women” (Monroe 71). Furthermore, patriarchy not only dismisses gendered violence as normal but also imposes specific roles onto women. Many of these women involved with prostitution are just trying to make a living in order to provide for their family. In a patriarchal society, women are the care-takers and it is their responsibility to raise a child. On the note of familial obligations, Adesina brings to light that the reason children are sold into slavery or trafficking is because their “parents are too poor to provide them with basic necessities” (Adesina 166).



Socio-economic status and education are very closely linked together. Adesina defines poverty as “(i) low income, (ii) low levels of education and health, (iii) vulnerability (to health or income loss, natural disaster, crime and violence, and education curtailment) and (iv) voicelessness and powerlessness (feeling discrimination, lacking income earning possibilities, mistreatment by state institutions and lacking status under the law” (Adesina 167). These indicators perfectly describe the situation of those victims of prostitution and human trafficking. In North America is it clear that those who are participating in these activities are “known to be ethnic minorities who are impoverished, uneducated and possess few marketable skills” (Monroe 69).  Monroe states that prostitution for many women is an economic necessity. These women often depend on the extra few dollars to provide a better life for themselves and in many cases also their families.  Education in these areas of ethnic minorities is often not as adequate as other predominately white areas. Monroe surfaces the point that “many women enter street prostitution as teens and report doing so for basic survival” (Monroe 70) rather than the ignorant views of women from ethnic groups view prostitution as profitable and freely choose this occupation.  Similarly in Nigeria where Adesina discovered that children subjected to slavery or child trafficking come from “difficult socioeconomic environment and deep-rooted, abject poverty, regional inequalities and inadequate programmes for the creation of employment or revenue-generating activities, particularly for youth in rural areas.” (Adesina 168). These statements bring to life the reality of ecological injustices and how the area you are raised in immediately contributes to your life experience.


Prostitution is the act that one has sex in exchange for a fee. In exchange for the fees “prostitutes are subjected to violence, criminalization, stigmatization, decreased civil liberties and even death” (Monroe 75). We see these levels of violence and discrimination increase with minority groups or those who don’t embody the Euro-Canadian physique. It is evident that “structural racism, classism, and sexism refer to institutionalized forms of oppression through institutions in a society that subordinate individuals based on their race, class and sex classifications, respectively” (Monroe 71). With that being said, women from minority groups are not given a chance in society, rather they are expected to comply with actions of prostitution and nobody thinks twice because it is “normal” for a person of that skin color to be involved. Racial inequalities contribute to poverty and poor life decisions. Monroe states that prostitution is a direction reflection of “unequal salaries between women and men as well as non-Whites and Whites also contribute to poverty” (Monroe 73). With that being said, gender is not the only issue victimized women of prostitution are facing, they are also combating racism.  The article Women in Street Prostitution: The Result of Poverty and the Brunt of Inequity highlights minority issues by speaking of women of colour specifically. It is evident that “black and Hispanic women earn less than ethnic minority men” (Monroe 73). Women of colour continue to suffer the devastating inequalities of labor force. It is not a coincidence that the children in Africa are also people of colour. Children in the rural parts of Nigeria are also suffering the consequences of labor inequality. Adseina writes that trafficking involves “taking children away from their homes, transporting them elsewhere, to be put to use by others, usually to make money” (Adesina 166) and these children usually never see a cent.9091dfeaeef42945e4c4906f550eb46a


Women and children obtain many similarities as we analyze prostitution and child trafficking. Women do not choose their economic position. More specifically those born with a darker pigment colour of skin did not have the choice to benefit from white privilege in a patriarchal society such as Canada and the United States. Because of their financial situation they are forced to subject themselves to various versions of violence in order to earn a living. In comparison, children in the rural areas of Nigeria are being forced to comply by the orders of adults and are put in situations where their basic civil rights are being tampered with. Both prostitution and trafficking create victims of assault that diminish human civil rights.


Works Cited

Adesina, Olubukola S. “African Identities.” Modern Day Slavery: Poverty and Child Trafficking in Nigeria: : Vol 12, No 2. Routledge, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14725843.2014.881278?needAccess=true&gt;.
Jacquelyn Monroe(2005) Women in Street Prostitution: The Result of Poverty and the Brunt of Inequity, Journal of Poverty, 9:3, 69-88, DOI: 10.1300/J134v09n03_04 http://www-tandfonlinecom.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/pdf/10.1300/J134v09n03_04?needAccess=true

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