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Cover Human Rights: Politics and Practice

16. Human Trafficking  

Andrea M. Bertone

This chapter examines how the international community has defined and framed the issue of human trafficking over the last century, and how governments such as the United States have responded politically to the problem of human trafficking. Contemporary concerns about trafficking can be traced back to a late nineteenth-century movement in the United States and Western Europe against white slavery. White slavery, also known as the white slave trade, refers to the kidnapping and transport of Caucasian girls and women for the purposes of prostitution. The chapter first considers the definitions of human trafficking before discussing the anti-white slavery movement and the increase in international consciousness about the trafficking of women. It then traces the origins of the contemporary anti-human trafficking movement and analyses how trafficking emerged as a global issue in the 1990s. It also presents a case study on human trafficking in the United States.