The book is edifying but flawed. The overall theme, that voluntary migration - including for purposes of prostitution - is inextricably linked to, and sometimes indistinguishable from, traffic in persons, is powerfully presented with case studies gleaned from field research conducted in Thailand. Rural Thai women are engaged in sex work in Bangkok, Singapore, Japan, and Germany. The difficulty in addressing this phenomenon is that some are trafficked against their will and suffer from the most appalling conditions of fear, abuse, and inhumanity, while others voluntarily enlist as prostitutes, driven by a combination of poverty and lack of opportunity at home and greed fueled by misinformation for what lies before them. The book is wholly successful with this thesis.
But the problems are two-fold. First, there simply is not enough depth to warrant even 116 pages. While the material is divided thematically, many stories are repetitive and do not add to the reader's understanding. The second, and more serious, problem is the authors' political agenda. While not oppressive, the anti-western theology is certainly intrusive. There is the use of 1970s-era jargon, referring to developed nations as "North" and the rest as "South", and predicating these labels with the assumption that South is good and North bad. There is the subtext that traffic in persons is essentially an economic problem - a migration issue - caused by unfair "Northern" economic exploitation and by discriminatory immigration laws that prevent citizens of the "South" from travelling at will to developed countries to seek their fortune. There is the imperfect understanding of economics compounded by a sort of pseudo-socialist template that yields incorrect statements like: "The need to import foreign labour into industrialized economies has now vanished" (p21); or callow outrage: "In an era of allegedly free markets, to permit goods, capital and rich people to move freely around the world, while preventing labour from doing so, appears both hypocritical and unjust" (p22). Japan is criticized because its standard of living serves as a "magnet" to those who live in poor countries. As though Japan is at fault, and the girls, even the willing prostitutes, are sad victims of Japanese success. This book is not the best forum to discuss uneven economic development, and the authors should have left it alone. Instead, there are odd statements like, "migrants represent the commitment of the nation to participate in the international economy" (p23), which suggests illegal migration and prostitution are positive economic policies of source countries, rather than the recognition that illegal migration represents a failure by these countries to provide for the needs of all their citizens.
Some phrases are ill-chosen, "Trafficking in women not only breaches the criminal and many other laws,..." (p66). Others are simply bizarre, such as the discussion of wives living abroad as prostitutes. The authors aver that when husbands of the prostitutes date other women and waste the proceeds of their wives' labors, that "such behavior contributes to the high divorce rate" (p75). It is just odd to blame the husband of a prostitute for the marriage's failure.
Overall, the book is a success. Its thesis is powerful, but the language is sometimes disingenuous. It is a useful starting point to understanding the trafficking phenomenon