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Violence Against Women on the Internet

Campus Sexual Assault Policies
(opens: 4.16.02)
(opens: 4.23.02)
Sex Trafficking
(opens: 4.30.02)
The Internet as a Site of Resistance
(opens: 5.7.02)
(opens: 5.14.02)
NOTE: Modules will launch by 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on the date listed.


The International Sex Trade and the Internet:
Partners in Crime

This module was composed by Stacey Dershewitz with Brina Milikowsky

"The sex industry markets precisely the violence, the practices of subordination that feminists seek to eliminate from the streets, workplaces, and bedrooms."
-Sheila Jeffreys, (1997) The Idea of Prostitution

At the dawn of the 21st century, new information and communication technologies have combined with racism, sexism, and capitalism to escalate the sexual exploitation of women and girls worldwide. The rise of the Internet has contributed to the exponential growth of one arena of exploitation in particular: the sex industry. Over the past ten years, the Internet has emerged as the premier forum of the international sex trade. All over the world, men can now buy, sell, or view women from the comfort of their own homes. With the click of a button, they can access live sex shows, strip clubs, interactive pornography, and mail-order bride catalogues, or enter discussions about the best ways to purchase prostitutes, sex slaves, and pornography. Lest it be thought otherwise, this relationship is not one-sided; the Internet has benefited immensely from the growth of the sex industry. Although hi-tech industry representatives tend to downplay the ties between the sex trade and the Web, the sex industry has fueled technological innovation and e-commerce, and has financially supported nearly all of the largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and search engines.

This module will explore the symbiotic relationship between the Internet and the international sex industry. Part One will provide an overview of the sex trade with special focus on the scope of the problem, the history of the industry, and the macro-level economic and social factors that fuel its growth. Part Two will closely examine the interdependence of the Internet and the international sex trade, using Donna Hughes' "Welcome to the Rape Camp: Sexual Exploitation and the Internet in Cambodia" as a case study. It will look at how the Internet has facilitated, accelerated, and normalized the sexual exploitation of women and girls, how the sex industry has enhanced the development and profitability of the Internet, and the devastating impact this joint growth has had on women and girls. In addition, it will discuss how local and international laws and policies have failed to curb the demand for trafficked women and have tended to punish those who have been victimized by the sex trade rather than those who control it. Part three will focus on the brighter side of the Internet; specifically, it will examine how groups and communities have been using technology to combat trafficking and explore options for and objections to regulating the Web's content .



Part I: Sexual Slavery in the 21st Century: An Overview

A. Scope of the Problem: A Worldwide Epidemic

B. Fueling the Trade: Globalization, Capitalism, Sexism and Racism

C. Case Study: The Phillippines: Misogyny, Microeconomics, Migration and Mistreatment


Part II: The Internet and the Sex Industry

A. The Explosion of the Internet Sex Industry and its Victims

B. The Growth of the Internet

C. Case Study: "Welcome to the Rape Camp"


Part III: Using the Internet to Fight the Global Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Women

A. The Online Movement


Part IV: Discussion Questions





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