7 - From Environmental Destruction to Prostitution: Migratory Flows and Impacts on Women

  • By the end of 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there were close to 71 million people around the world forcibly displaced. Consider this: every minute in 2018, 25 people were forced to flee.
  • Migration comes as climate change is destroying more natural habitats, deeply impacting the number of people needing to flee home. Going back to the end of the 1990s, it was reported that illegal immigrants and trafficked men and women constituted 40 percent of the sex trade globally. 
  • This has a disproportionate impact on prostitution as the flow of displaced people increases - and we need to question the institutions and power that had a role in this.  As Coy, Smiley & Tyler (2019) note, “women of color and Indigenous women have written and spoken powerfully about how sex industries are built on racism and histories of colonialism” (p. 1932). 
  • We need to challenge which inequalities in our society are the invisible forces that further enable prostitution. What happens on a global scale can be amplified at a local level - “displacement, homelessness, migration - create prostitution and what prostitution upholds creates them” (Razack, 1998, p. 367)”.


Razack, S. (1998). Race, space, and prostitution: The making of the bourgeois subject. Can. J. Women & L.10, 338.

Coy, M., Smiley, C., & Tyler, M. (2019). Challenging the “Prostitution Problem”: Dissenting Voices, Sex Buyers, and the Myth of Neutrality in Prostitution Research. Archives of sexual behavior48(7), 1931-1935.

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report - Synthesis Report (English)

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