Trafficking literature often mentions underage prostitution, where paedophilia and virginity sale are considered particularly appalling examples of sex trafficking. At the same time it is ubiquitously assumed that underage prostitution, epitomised by the sale of virgins as elite commodities within sex trafficking, results in considerable profits for traffickers and exploiters. I argue that such views reflect a tacit projection of classic economic theory onto migration and sex commerce. This confuses more than explains how virginity sale operates within a commercial sex market as well as how social actors within this market understand such social practices. Drawing on detailed ethnographic accounts of how the trade in virgins is taking place along the Thai-Lao border, I elucidate how recruitment, value and exchange are socially and culturally embedded practices.
- Human trafficking