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Purpose – This paper aims to explore the dark side of the relationship between gender, mobility, migration and tourism. Specifically, the paper looks at one form of human trafficking, the global sex industry and the relationship between sex trafficking and sex tourism. More particularly, the paper examines the global sex industry (Goh, 2009; Sasse, 2000, 2001) and the impact of migration and human rights aspects (Voronova and Radjenovic, 2016) of sex trafficking and sex tourism, as well as the emotional dimensions of trauma, violence and vulnerability (Heaslip, 2016). Design/methodology/approach – The paper is an interdisciplinary discussion paper combining socioeconomic perspectives (Goh, 2009; Brooks and Devasayaham, 2011), human rights perspectives (Cheah, 2006), migration perspectives (Voronova and Radjenovic, 2016), tourism perspectives (Carolin et al., 2015) and health perspectives (Cary et al., 2016; Matos et al., 2013; Reid and Jones, 2011). The contribution of these intersecting perspectives to an understanding of sex trafficking and sex tourism is explored. Findings – The paper highlights the moral and ethical responsibility of the tourist industry to counteract sex trafficking and sex tourism, an issue which tourism studies have failed to fully engage with. In presenting the human costs of trafficking from a gender perspective, the paper considers the ways in which the tourism industries, in some countries, are attempting to respond. Research limitations/implications – The originality of the research is the focus on the dark side of the relationship between gender, mobility and tourism through sex trafficking and sex tourism drawing on an interdisciplinary perspective. Social implications – The paper looks at the individual and social implications of sex trafficking and sex tourism for different countries and states and for the individuals concerned. In addition, it looks at the ways in which the tourism industry is responding to sex trafficking and sex tourism and the social impact of this. Originality/value – In theorising the relationship between gender, migration, sex trafficking and tourism from an interdisciplinary perspective, exploring the societal and individual impact, this paper provides a framework for further empirical research or policy changes with regard to the intersection of sex trafficking and tourism.


Institute for Religion, Politics, and Society

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Journal Article

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