The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women

By Stephanie A. Limoncelli | Go to book overview

6
International Bureau Reformers
and the French Movement

FRANCE WAS BOTH A SUPPLY AND DESTINATION COUNTRY in the international traffic in women. French emigration was small compared to that of countries such as Italy, but French emigrants did go overseas and to the colonies, and women were an increasing proportion of these migrants in the interwar period.1 About onefifth of French emigrants went to French colonies from 1850 to 1925, and many also went to Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, and other European countries.2

One component of this migration involved women in Prostitution, which the 1927 League of Nations trafficking report confirmed. French prostitutes were found overseas, in South America, North America, and the colonies, although state officials disputed this in international forums, claiming that French-speaking women in Prostitution were passing for nationals; but researchers for the League of Nations report defended their findings.3 France also supplied European markets, especially the brothels of Belgium, Holland, and the Russian Empire. In 1902, for example, the Netherlands had eleven French brothels, four of which imported the women directly from France and sold them again after a few weeks to other brothels. They were sold to brothels outside of Europe as well, especially to those in South America.4

As an immigration as well as emigration country, France also had an increasing number of non-French men in the metropole, which contributed to its reputation as a destination country for migrant women in Prostitution. The 1870s brought incoming refugees from the Franco-Prussian war and the annexation of Alsace Lorraine by Germany, and workers from neighboring European countries.5 Over time, Italian, Belgian, Spanish, and Polish labor migrants settled in France, and all intermarried except the Polish, contributing to a per-

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