Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies, Organizations, and Social Justice


In the late nineties, in the post-conflict period of rebuilding and peacekeeping, trafficking in women for sexual exploitation emerged as a major problem in Bosnia-Herzegovina. For years, the country was considered one of the principle destination and transit countries in the region, until a combination of internal and external factors caused the situation to change. Internally, the government passed legislation, created action plans, and designated special police forces to combat trafficking across borders. Apart from these actions, regional political changes and the withdrawal of international troops also contributed to the closure of bars and brothels in which trafficked women were kept. The decreasing number of foreign victims of trafficking identified each year since 2003 would seem to indicate that human trafficking is on the decline in BiH. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. While the number of foreign women trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation has certainly declined, the number of Bosnian women trafficked internally has risen each year since it was first noted in 2002. Furthermore, traffickers have not disappeared, but have changed the nature of their operations. Rather than operating from large nightclubs, they rely increasingly on hotels, motels, and private apartments, where they individually arrange meetings between the women and their clients. Finally, because of BiH's ongoing problems with corruption, legal loopholes, weaknesses within the police force, and the endurance of extreme nationalism, the country remains a highly exploitable environment for organized criminal networks controlling human trafficking operations in the region.


Criminology | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance

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