Selling Sex Overseas

Chinese Women and the Realities of Prostitution and Global Sex Trafficking

336 pages

32 tables, 6 figures

September, 2012

ISBN: 9780814772584



Also available in


Ko-lin Chin is Professor II (Distinguished) at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Newark and author of many books, including Heijin: Organized Crime, Business, and Politics in Taiwan and Golden Triangle: Inside Southeast Asia Drug Trade.

All books by Ko-lin Chin

James O. Finckenauer is Professor Emeritus and a Professorial Fellow at Rutgers University-Newark, and author or co-author of many books, including Asian Transnational Organized Crime. Professor Finckenauer was formerly Director of the International Center at the National Institute of Justice, and is past President of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime and of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

All books by James O. Finckenauer

2013 Outstanding Book Award Winner from the Division of International Criminology, American Society of Criminology
Every year, thousands of Chinese women travel to Asia and the United States in order to engage in commercial sex work. In Selling Sex Overseas, Ko-lin Chin and James Finckenauer challenge the current sex trafficking paradigm that considers all sex workers as victims, or sexual slaves, and as unwilling participants in the world of commercial sex. Bringing to life an on-the-ground portrait of this usually hidden world, Chin and Finckenauer provide a detailed look at all of its participants: sex workers, pimps, agents, mommies, escort agency owners, brothel owners, and drivers. Ultimately, they probe the social, economic, and political organization of prostitution and sex trafficking, contradicting many of the ‘moral crusaders’ of the human trafficking world.


  • “A groundbreaking and riveting book, providing a fascinating picture of Asian sex markets. The authors mine a mountain of field data on the experiences of Chinese women who migrate to cities in Asia and beyond in search of work in the sex industry. Sociologically rich and highly policy relevant, the book offers a unique window into the complex and variegated nature of both transnational migration and sexual commerce.”

    —Ronald Weitzer, author of Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business

  • “This fascinating book takes you inside the trafficking of Asian women. . . .explaining how the system works —who are the traffickers, where does their money go and how corruption allows this business to persist. A unique work that will be valuable to scholars, policy-makers and all those trying to understand the complexity of trafficking in a part of the world where the problem is so pervasive.” 

    —Louise Shelley, author of Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective

  • “Impressive in its scope, Selling Sex Overseas is sure to challenge conventional wisdom about sex trafficking. The authors’ call for—and execution of—comprehensive empirical research makes it a significant contribution to the growing body of work seeking to improve our understanding of the transnational organization of commercial sex and to confront the often harmful assumptions about the nature and extent of sexual slavery that guide national and international policy.”

    —Jody Miller, author of Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality, and Gendered Violence

  • "This kind of book can appeal to both abolitionists who write about human trafficking and to sex-positive feminists who provide empirical weight to women's agency and their choice to engage in sexual commerce."


  • "[The authors'] work thus has implications for national and international public policies. I highly recommend this book for scholars in fields of sociology, gender studies, and area studies."

    —Shu-Ju Ada Cheng, Associate Professor in Sociology, DePaul University

  • "Selling Sex Overseas is an important and timely book. It should prompt scholars, policymakers and advocates to reexamine previously held assumptions about sex trafficking and prostitution. Chin and Finckenauer demonstrate that researchers can reach key actors in the sex industry and build the rapport necessary to learn about their experiences....Selling Sex Overseas is an excellent read. It should provoke important conversations about both the nature of the transnational commercial sex industry and the problem of trafficking persons for sex."

    —Amy Farrell, Rutgers: Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

  • “In recent times some scholars have begun to question some commonly held beliefs on the relation between sex trafficking and prostitution.  Along this path of inquiry, Selling Sex Overseas: Chinese Women and the Realities of Prostitution and Global Sex Trafficking is a meaningful and interesting contribution, which challenges the conventional wisdom about sex trafficking that guides national and international regulatory frameworks. […] The book will certainly be of interest to readers of this Journal.  It is well written and suitable to both an experienced and non-specialist audience.  It should be valuable not only to scholars in the fields of criminology, sociology, and gender studies, but also to all those interested in the complex relation between sex trafficking and prostitution such as policy-makers and social activists.” 

    Trends in Organized Crime