Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2013

Capstone Advisor

Robin Riley

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

African Languages and Societies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | International Relations | Political Science | Women's Studies


The phenomenon of human trafficking, especially the trafficking of young women and girls into exploitative and commercial sex labor, has recently attracted considerable local, national and international attention. This sex trafficking phenomenon exists against the backdrop of poverty, unemployment, and social instability, signaling a correlation between these elements. This research paper will define the concept of human trafficking in comparison to human smuggling and migration and will discuss the complexity in applying the definition. The magnitude and scope of the problem of human trafficking will be examined as well as its causes.

Human trafficking will be analyzed by international standards as an illegal practice and an illegal market. The paper will demonstrate how human rights discourse has become a key component in the modern-day discussion of sex work in terms of women’s rights and labor rights. A central task of the human rights movement has always been to challenge conventional and traditional attitudes and customs towards practices that inflict harm, suffering or discrimination upon others. I will draw upon existing works in feminist theory in order to assess ways in which feminism, gender and sexuality often intersecting with race and class are included in the discussion of sex work and human rights.

The country concentration for this research paper is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The phenomenon will be discussed in more depth through both liberal and feminist theoretical perspectives toward the end. Many of the sources used are Nigerian researchers who are likely to have a more local understanding of Nigerian migration, Nigerian trafficking and Nigerians in the sex work industry. This paper focuses on Nigeria as a case study in the West African region where projects are currently being implemented in reaction to growing trends of human trafficking as observed by the United Nations Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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