2019-2020 Global Development Studies Senior Thesis Projects

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Monica Arnone '20

Project Title: Sex is Power: The Role of the Sex Trade in State-Led Development.

Summary: Prostitution and sex trafficking are both issues that most people know at least a little bit about. The global demand for sex is not a new one and its prevalence throughout history has never been denied. What may come as a surprise, however, is how the sex trade can be used in global development. This thesis explores how low- and middle- income countries use women and the sex trade for their own state development through an analysis of why women enter prostitution, and the consequences thereof. The second part of the thesis project analyzes the use of conflict-related sexual violence and how countries and militia groups use it to further their goals in conflict, and how the aftermath of these conflicts continues to negatively impact the states. The final section examines Vietnam specifically, discussing the state’s duality of both allowing the sex trade to prosper as it relates to the business sector but also condemning it as it relates to trafficking and its immorality. This thesis argues that the use of the sex trade for state development does provide some benefits to the countries, but ultimately the associated trade-offs and negative impacts make it a faulty development strategy.