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The League of Nations and the Moral Recruitment of Women*

  • Magaly Rodríguez García (a1)
Summary

This article analyses the debate on trafficking and policies to combat the recruitment of persons for commercial sex within the Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Women and Children of the League of Nations. Its main argument is that the Committee's governmental and non-governmental representatives engaged in what might be called a “moral recruitment of women”. This form of recruitment had a double purpose: to protect females from prostitution through the provision of “good employment”, and to repress intermediaries of prostitution by means of criminalization. Three elements of the Committee's internal debates and concrete actions will receive special attention. Firstly, the ideological framework (feminism, social purity, humanitarianism, abolitionism, regulationism, and/or class); secondly, the gender dynamics (differences of opinion between the Committee's male and female representatives); and thirdly the degree of gendering (construction or reinforcement of gender roles and relations).

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I am indebted to Jean-Michel Chaumont for his generous sharing of information about the League of Nations Archives [hereafter LNA] at the United Nations Office, Geneva; and to Olivier de Maret, Daniëlle De Vooght, Anneke Geyzen, Paul Knepper, Lex Heerma van Voss, and the editors of this journal's special issue for their constructive remarks and reading suggestions. Needless to say, the opinions expressed in the present study are my own. I would also like to record my special thanks to Jacques Oberson and Lee Robertson for their professional and friendly assistance during my research in the Geneva archives; and to Paul Bullard for his careful proof-reading of this article. I am a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Belgium, which facilitated my stay in Geneva by the award of a mobility grant.

Footnotes
References
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1. Andreas, Peter and Nadelmann, Ethan, Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations (New York, 2006)

2. “Annex II: Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime”, in United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto, p. 42.

3. Knepper, Paul, The Invention of International Crime: A Global Issue in the Making, 1881–1914 (London, 2010), p. 98

4. Guy, Donna J., White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead: The Troubled Meeting of Sex, Gender, Public Health and Progress in Latin America (Lincoln, NE [etc.], 2000)

Limoncelli, Stephanie A., The Politics of Trafficking: The First International Movement to Combat the Sexual Exploitation of Women (Stanford, CA, 2010)

5. Knepper, Paul, International Crime in the 20th Century: The League of Nations Era, 1919–1939 (London, 2011)

6. Nadelmann, Ethan A., “Global Prohibition Regimes: The Evolution of Norms in International Society”, International Organization, 44 (1990), pp. 479526

Papanicolaou, Georgios, “The Sex Industry, Human Trafficking and the Global Prohibition Regime: A Cautionary Tale from Greece”, Trends in Organized Crime, 11 (2008), pp. 379409

7. Doezema, Jo, “Who Gets to Choose? Coercion, Consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol”, Gender and Development, 10 (2002), pp. 2027

8. Ghébali, Victor Yves and Ghébali, Catherine, A Repertoire of League of Nations Serial Documents, 1919–1947 (New York, 1973), p. 610

9. Becker, Howard, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (New York, 1963), p. 148

Nadelmann, “Global Prohibition Regimes”, pp. 481–482

10. Becker, Outsiders, pp. 148

11. League of Nations Advisory Committee on the Traffic in Women and Children, Minutes of the First Session [hereafter, “Committee, Minutes of …”], Geneva, 28 June–1 July 1922, p. 8, LNA C.445.M.265.1922.IV.

12. League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts on Traffic in Women and Children, 2 parts (Geneva, 1927), Part 1, p. 6, LNA, C.52.M.52.1927.IV.

13. Brenda Carina Oude Breuil et al, “Human Trafficking Revisited: Legal, Enforcement and Ethnographic Narratives on Sex Trafficking to Western Europe”, Trends in Organized Crime, 14 (2011), pp. 3046

14. Nadelmann, “Global Prohibition Regimes”, pp. 484–485

15. Limoncelli, Politics of Trafficking, p. 7

16. Amos, Sheldon, A Comparative Survey of the Laws in Force for the Prohibition, Regulation and Licensing of Vice in England and Other Countries (London, 1877)

Jenny Daggers and Diana Neal (eds), Sex, Gender, and Religion: Josephine Butler Revisited (New York, 2006), pp. 5571

17. Petra de Vries, “Josephine Butler and the Making of Feminism: International Abolitionism in the Netherlands (1870–1914)”, Women's History Review, 17 (2008), pp. 257277

18. Summers, Anne, “Which Women? What Europe? Josephine Butler and the International Abolitionist Federation”, History Workshop Journal, 62 (2006), pp. 214231

Limoncelli, Politics of Trafficking, pp. 44–48

19. Stienstra, Deborah, “Madonna/Whore, Pimp/Protector: International Law and Organization Related to Prostitution”, Studies in Political Economy, 51 (1996), pp. 183217

De Vries, “Josephine Butler and the Making of Feminism”, p. 260

20. Rupp, Leila J., Worlds of Women: The Making of an International Women's Movement (Princeton, NJ, 1997), pp. 150

21. In 1904, the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic was adopted. It included the appointment of central authorities to gather information on trafficking, the supervision of employment agencies that sent women abroad, and the vigilance of ports and railway stations for putative procurers and victims. In 1910, the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic was signed, covering the offence of procuring adult women by means of fraud, violence, or other forms of compulsion, and of women under the age of twenty even with their consent; League of Nations Advisory Committee on Social Questions [hereafter, “Committee on Social Questions”], Report of the Sub-Committee entrusted with the drawing up of the Second Draft of a Convention for Suppressing the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, Geneva, 16 August 1937, pp. 2–3, LNA, C.331.M.223.1937.IV.

22. Offen, Karen, European Feminisms, 1700–1950 (Stanford, CA, 2000), p. 355

23. Leila Rupp, Worlds of Women, pp. 211–212

24. League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, pp. 5, 8.

25. League of Nations Report to the Council by the Advisory Committee on Traffic in Women and Children, First Session, Geneva, 28 June–1 July 1922, pp. 2–12, LNA A.9(1).1922.IV.

26. The governments of Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Uruguay were invited to appoint a representative, as well as the following private organizations: the International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children, the International Catholic Association for the Protection of Girls, the Federation of National Unions for the Protection of Girls, the International Women's Organizations, and the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women; League of Nations Report to the Third Assembly of the League on the Work of the Council and on the Measures taken to execute the Decisions of the Assembly, Geneva, 1922, pp. 72–73, LNA A.6.1922.

27. Kevin Grant, Philippa Levine, and Frank Trentmann (eds), Beyond Sovereignty: Britain, Empire and Transnationalism, c.1880–1950 (New York, 2007), pp. 5479

28. See for example the contrasting views on female migration of Annie Baker (International Anti-Traffic Bureau's representative), who insisted on the need for strict migration legislation for young women, and of Samuel Cohen (Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women) and Paulina Luisi (Uruguayan delegate), who called for the promotion of gender-neutral policies that would not interfere with the personal freedom of adult women; Committee, Minutes of the First Session, 1922, pp. 12, 24; Committee, Minutes of the Third Session, 1924, pp. 27, 39.

29. Mrinalini Sinha, Donna Guy, and Angela Woollacott (eds), Feminisms and Internationalism (Oxford, 1999), pp. 6280

Offen, Karen, “Madame Ghénia Avril de Sainte-Croix, the Josephine Butler of France”, Women's History Review, 17 (2008), pp. 239255

30. The following quotations are taken from: Reports on the Work of the Advisory Committee during its Second Session held at Geneva 22–27 March 1923, Geneva, August 1923, p. 10, LNA A.36.1923.IV; Committee, Minutes of the Second Session, Geneva, 22-27 March 1923, pp. 19, 24–25, LNA C.225.M.129.1923.IV.

31. Not to be confused with Léon Bourgeois (d. 1925), first President of the Council of the League of Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1920).

32. Pliley, Jessica, “Claims to Protection: The Rise and Fall of Feminist Abolitionism in the League of Nations’ Committee on the Traffic in Women and Children, 1919-1936”, Journal of Women's History, 22 (2010), pp. 90113

33. Germany and the United States were not (yet, in the German case) members of the League of Nations, but the Committee recommended that the Council invite those two countries to appoint representatives.

34. Committee, Minutes of the Second Session, 1923, pp. 6, 27, 61.

35. Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Oxford, 1977), p. 19

36. League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, pp. 5–6; Paul Knepper, “Spotlight and Shadow: The League of Nations and Human Trafficking in the 1920s”, paper presented to the European Social Science History Conference, Glasgow, 11–14 April 2012.

37. The field reports of the First Enquiry on Traffic in Women and Children are classified per country and city in the LNA, boxes S171 to S181.

38. Leppänen, Katarina, “Movement of Women: Trafficking in the Interwar Era”, Women's Studies International Forum, 30 (2007), pp. 523533

Chaumont, Jean-Michel, Le mythe de la traite des blanches. Enquête sur la fabrication d'un fléau (Paris, 2009)

39. International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children, Geneva, 30 September 1921, available at http://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1921/09/19210930%2005-59%20AM/Ch_VII_3p.pdf; last accessed 29 November 2011.

40. Committee, Minutes of the First Session, 1922, pp. 37–38.

41. The following quotations are taken from League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, pp. 9, 18–19, 22, 43–44.

42. Knepper, International Crime in the 20th Century, pp. 107–112

Frank Bovenkerk et al, Loverboys of modern pooierschap (Amsterdam, 2006)

Doezema, Jo, “Loose Women or Lost Women? The Re-emergence of the Myth of ‘White Slavery’ in Contemporary Discourses of ‘Trafficking in Women’”, Gender Issues, 18 (2000), pp. 2350

43. Jeffreys, Sheila, The Idea of Prostitution (North Melbourne, VIC, 1997)

44. League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, pp. 31–35.

45. Chaumont, Le mythe de la traite des blanches, pp. 181–201

Bales, Kevin and Robbins, Peter T., “‘No One Shall Be Held in Slavery or Servitude’: A Critical Analysis of International Slavery Agreements and Concepts of Slavery”, Human Rights Review, 2 (2001), pp. 1845

46. The Italian representative, Princess Cristina Giustiniani Bandini, stressed the importance of consent for a successful rehabilitation of prostitutes; Committee, Minutes of the Fourteenth Session, Third Meeting, Geneva, 3 May 1935, p. 3, LNA CTFE/14th Session/PV.3.

47. Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Third Meeting, Geneva, 7 April 1933, p. 5, LNA CTFE/12th Session/PV.3.

48. Société des Nations. Sous-comité de la répression des agissements des souteneurs, Genève, 20 janvier 1933, p. 2, LNA CTFE/CJ/2ème Session/PV.1; translations from French are mine.

49. Committee on Social Questions, Prevention of Prostitution, Geneva, 17 February 1938, p. 4, LNA CQS/A/16. In a 1947 brochure, a member of the abolitionist movement admitted that it was “high time that the International Abolitionist Federation should recognise the part men play in prostitution”, and thanked the League's Committee for paying attention to this issue during one of its last sessions; A. Bouman, “The Part Men Play in Prostitution”, International Abolitionist Federation Congress, Brussels, 8 September 1947, p. 1.

50. Committee on Social Questions, Prevention of Prostitution, Geneva, 15 May 1939, p. 23, LNA CQS/A/19(a); Committee on Social Questions, 1938, pp. 2, 11, LNA CQS/A/16, CQS/A/16(1).

51. League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, p. 24.

52. Knepper, International Crime in the 20th Century, p. 99

Maria Jaschok and Suzanne Miers (eds), Women & Chinese Patriarchy: Submission, Servitude and Escape (London [etc.], 1994), pp. 124

53. Weitzer, Ronald, “New Directions in Research on Prostitution”, Crime, Law and Social Change, 43 (2005), pp. 211235

54. Paris report, September 1924–September 1926, pp. 3, 5, LNA box S174.

55. French report, December 1924–January 1925, pp. 10–11, LNA box S174.

56. Legal Sub-Committee, Activities of Souteneurs, 1933, pp. 16–18.

57. Corbin, Alain, Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France after 1850 (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 156

58. Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Fourth Meeting, Geneva, 7 April 1933, p. 7, LNA CTFE/12th Session/PV.4(1).

59. McLaren, Angus, The Trials of Masculinity: Policing Sexual Boundaries, 1870–1930 (Chicago, IL, 1997), pp. 1719

60. Committee, Minutes of the Seventh Session, Geneva, 12–17 March 1928, pp. 34, 36, LNA C.184.M.59.1928.IV; League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, p. 39.

61. Report of the Sub-Committee of the Traffic in Women and Children Committee, Geneva, 7 February 1931, pp. 2, 13–14, LNA CTFE/CJ/2.

62. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p. 18

63. Committee, Minutes of the Eighth Session, Geneva, 19–27 April 1929, pp. 54, 58–59, LNA C.294.M.97.1929.IV; Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Fourth Meeting, 1933, pp. 7–8; Report of the Sub-Committee of the Traffic in Women and Children Committee, 1931, p. 2. The sub-committee was composed of government representatives serving on the Legal Sub-Committee of the Child Welfare Committee, and academic and international police experts.

64. Report of the Sub-Committee of the Traffic in Women and Children Committee, 1931, p. 3.

65. Legal Sub-Committee, Preliminary Draft International Convention on the Punishment of Persons who Live on the Immoral Earnings of Women, Geneva, 9 December 1930, p. 2, LNA CTFE/CJ/1.

66. This and the following quotes are taken from Committee, Minutes of the Tenth Session, Geneva, 21–27 April 1931, pp. 21–22, 25–26, 28, 87, LNA C.401.M.163.1931.IV.

67. Committee, Minutes of the Seventh Session, 1928, p. 37; Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Third Meeting, 1933, p. 4; League of Nations, Report of the Special Body of Experts: Part 1, pp. 44–45.

68. Committee, Minutes of the Eighth Session, 1929, p. 60.

69. Committee, Minutes of the Ninth Session, Geneva, 2–9 April 1930, p. 37, LNA C.246.M.121.1930.IV.

70. Committee, Minutes of the Eleventh Session, Fifth Meeting, Geneva, 6 April 1932, p. 3, LNA CTFE/11th Session/PV.5; Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Third Meeting, 1933, p. 7.

71. The following quotations are taken from Committee, Minutes of the Eleventh Session, 1932, pp. 3, 5–6, 8.

72. Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Fourth Meeting, Geneva, 7 April 1933, p. 2, LNA CTFE/12th Session/PV.4(1).

73. Committee, Minutes of the Eleventh Session, 1932, pp. 7, 9–10; Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Third Meeting, 1933, pp. 2–4, 7, 9.

74. Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Third Meeting, 1933, pp. 5–7.

75. Ibid., p. 7; Report of the Sub-Committee […] Second Draft of a Convention for Suppressing the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, 1937, p. 3.

76. Committee, Minutes of the Twelfth Session, Third Meeting, 1933, p. 6.

77. Mariagrazia Rossilli (ed.), Gender Policies in the European Union (New York, 2000), pp. 209229

78. Committee, Minutes of the Thirteenth Session, Geneva, 4–12 April 1934, pp. 4–5, 83, 94–95, LNA CTFE/13th Session/PV (revised).

79. Abolition of Licensed Houses, Geneva, 15 June 1934, pp. 94–95, LNA C.221.M.88.1934.IV; Committee, Minutes of the Fourteenth Session, Fourth Meeting, Geneva, 4 May 1935, pp. 2–3, LNA CTFE/14th Session/PV.4.

80. Committee, Minutes of the Fourteenth Session, Fifth Meeting, Geneva, 1935, pp. 2–3, 6, LNA CTFE/14th Session/PV.5.

81. Sub-Committee on the suppression of the activities of souteneurs, Geneva, 25 January 1936, p. 9, LNA CTFE/CS.4.

82. Report of the Sub-Committee […] Second Draft of a Convention for Suppressing the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, 1937, pp. 2–3.

83. Outshoorn, Joyce, “Introduction: Prostitution, Women's Movements and Democratic Politics”, in idem (ed.), The Politics of Prostitution: Women's Movements, Democratic States and the Globalisation of Sex Commerce (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 120

84. Committee on Social Questions, Report on the work of the Committee in 1939 (Third Session), Geneva, July 1939, p. 16, LNA C.214.M.142.1939.IV.

85. Rupp, Worlds of Women, pp. 151–152

86. Paul Weindling (ed.), International Health Organisations and Movements, 1918–1939 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 154174

87. Committee, Minutes of the First Session, 1922, pp. 46–47.

88. Monitoring of places of departure was already included in the 1904 International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic (see above).

89. Committee, Minutes of the First Session, 1922, p. 46.

90. The following quotation are taken from Committee, Minutes of the Third Session, 1924, pp. 26–27, 80.

91. Committee, Minutes of the Fifth Session, 1926, p. 92.

92. Committee, Minutes of the Third Session, 1924, p. 81.

93. Committee, Minutes of the First Session, 1922, p. 41.

94. The following quotation are taken from Committee, Minutes of the Fifteenth Session, Fifth Meeting, 22 April 1936, pp. 10–12, LNA CTFE/15th Session/PV.5.

95. Éliane Gubin and Leen Van Molle (eds), Women Changing the World: A History of the International Council of Women, 1888–1988 (Brussels, 2005), pp. 149169

Rupp, Worlds of Women, p. 154

96. Committee, Minutes of the Eighth Session, 1929, p. 116; Committee, Minutes of the Fifth Session, 1926, p. 25.

97. Committee, Minutes of the Sixth Session, Geneva, 25–30 April 1927, p. 41, LNA C.338.M.113.1927.IV.

98. Committee, Minutes of the Fifth Session, 1926, p. 89; Committee, Minutes of the Thirteenth Session, 1934, p. 23.

99. Committee on Social Questions, Reports of voluntary organizations, 27 April 1937, p. 3, LNA CQS/A.10.

100. Reports on the Work of the Advisory Committee during its Sixth Session held at Geneva from 25–30 April 1927, Geneva, July 1927, p. 5, LNA A.25.1927.IV.

101. Ibid., pp. 16–18, 23, 26–27; Committee, Minutes of the Sixth Session, 1927, pp. 16–17, 37; Committee, Minutes of the Eighth Session, 1929, p. 116; Committee, Minutes of the Eleventh Session, Fourth Meeting, Geneva, 5 April 1932, pp. 3, 7, 9, 16, LNA CTFE/11th Session/PV.4; Committee, Minutes of the Fifteenth Session, Fifth Meeting, 1936, p. 9.

102. Committee, Minutes of the Thirteenth Session, 1934, p. 15.

103. Committee, Minutes of the Fifth Session, 1926, p. 87.

104. Committee, Minutes of the Thirteenth Session, 1934, p. 17.

105. Committee, Minutes of the Fourteenth Session, Third Meeting, 1935, p. 7.

106. The following quotations are taken from Committee on Social Questions, Prevention of Prostitution: A Study of Preventive Measures, Especially Those which Affect Minors, Geneva, 15 May 1939, pp. 60–61, LNA CQS/A/19(a) [hereafter, “Study of Preventive Measures”].

107. Committee, Minutes of the Third Session, 1924, p. 83.

108. The following quotations are taken from “Study of Preventive Measures”, pp. 45, 57–63.

109. The ILO Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers was adopted in June 2011.

110. Committee, Minutes of the Fifteenth Session, Fifth Meeting, 1936, p. 4.

111. Victoria de Grazia, The Culture of Consent: Mass Organisation of Leisure in Fascist Italy (Cambridge, 2002)

Baranowski, Shelley, Strength Through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge, 2007)

112. Committee on Social Questions, Report on the Work of the Committee in 1938 (Second Session), Geneva, 6 May 1938, p. 18, LNA C.147.M.88.1938.IV.

113. Jasmien Van Daele et al. (eds), ILO Histories: Essays on the International Labour Organization and Its Impact on the World During the Twentieth Century (Berne, 2010), pp. 461478

114. Nadelmann, “Global Prohibition Regimes”, p. 525

115. Ibid., p. 481.

* I am indebted to Jean-Michel Chaumont for his generous sharing of information about the League of Nations Archives [hereafter LNA] at the United Nations Office, Geneva; and to Olivier de Maret, Daniëlle De Vooght, Anneke Geyzen, Paul Knepper, Lex Heerma van Voss, and the editors of this journal's special issue for their constructive remarks and reading suggestions. Needless to say, the opinions expressed in the present study are my own. I would also like to record my special thanks to Jacques Oberson and Lee Robertson for their professional and friendly assistance during my research in the Geneva archives; and to Paul Bullard for his careful proof-reading of this article. I am a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Belgium, which facilitated my stay in Geneva by the award of a mobility grant.

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International Review of Social History
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