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Human Trafficking, Sex Trade & Modern Slavery in Europe

Examine the broad and diverse areas of human trafficking—which occurs in a wide range of sectors—and the sex trade, including the relationship between sex workers and their broader societies.

At a Glance





Courses taught in



Jun 16 – Jul 27

Program Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Identity & Human Resilience


Why study abroad in the Netherlands?

Examine the complex and multifaceted issues of human trafficking and sex trades. We consider human trafficking to be part of the backlash against decolonizing forces and the inevitable byproduct of late-stage, global capitalism. You will study the underlying historical events and theoretical worldviews that cast some people as chattel. You will also learn to think critically about the myriad types of sex work and the relationship between sex workers and their broader societies. Transactional sex, peep shows, camming, trans and queer phone banks, pornography, even the sale of sex toys can be considered sex work. While we look at multiple perspectives during the program, we acknowledge that sex workers are complex, multifaceted actors with agency who deserve respect. We can disagree on many issues, we will not infantilize, denigrate or in any way question the fundamental humanity of the people who take part in sex work.


  • Explore extremely timely issues in an ideal location
  • Meet with local experts and practitioners: from sex workers to people fighting to prosecute modern slavers
  • Complete independent research on a topic of your choice
  • Go on excursion to the Hague, seat of the Dutch government and the United Nations criminal court



program map


Red Light District

Visit Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District including a meet-and-greet at the information center and a tour with sex workers from the Prostitute Information Center of the Venus Temple and the Rijksmuseum, sex shops, pornography studios, and windows.

The Hague

Travel to The Hague to visit the International Criminal Court, Humanity House, and several NGOs and IGOs who work with refugees.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the forces behind human trafficking and the motivation of the various actors, as demonstrated by the term paper.
  • Illustrate varieties of legalization models and types of sex work, as demonstrated by an in-class presentation.
  • Analyze and respond to sophisticated scholarship on sex work and human trafficking.
  • Apply queer, feminist, and migration theory to develop a term paper.
  • Synthesize possible strategies for mitigating human trafficking in an op-ed.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • The development, scope, and ethics of the sex industry
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  • Extensive theoretical exploration of the issues incumbent around sex work and human trafficking
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  • The role of consumers and corporations in global sex trafficking
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  • The legal policy and framework around human trafficking

Global Perspectives on Sex Work

Global Perspectives on Sex Work – syllabus
(GEND 3000 / 3 credits)

This course casts a critical eye on the myriad varieties of sex work and the relationship between sex workers and their broader society in the world. Although traditional, hetero “prostitution” – the exchange of intercourse for goods and/or services – comes first to mind, that is only the tip of the sex work iceberg. Transactional sex, peep shows, camming, trans and queer phone banks, pornography, even the sale of sex toys, can be considered sex work. This course explores these topics, among others.

The best study of sex work integrates the examination of the types of sex work with the ethos that supports it. We will examine deeply held theoretical and philosophical ideas about religion, gender, and sex that provide a structure for the way we approach sex work, and the current global political and economic systems that make sex work so profitable and popular.

Modern Human Trafficking

Modern Human Trafficking – syllabus
(GEND 3500 / 3 credits)

This course not only considers what is happening in the world today, but also the underlying historical events and theoretical worldview that casts some people as chattel.

“…[T]he recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

This definition, from the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Humans, is the most widely cited definition of human trafficking. It is an attempt to craft an umbrella large enough to cover the wide variety of practices encompassed by the term “trafficking.” Early on, concern with human trafficking focused on women and children involved in the sex trade but more recent treatment also examines other avenues for the exploitation of women and children, as well as men. The World Health Organization notes that trafficking occurs in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, forestry, construction, domestic servitude, cleaning and hospitality services. Trafficked people may also be forced to work as beggars or soldiers, and women and children can be made to serve as “wives.”

This course examines the ancient phenomenon of human trafficking, and looks at trafficking as part of the backlash against decolonizing forces and the inevitable byproduct of late-stage, global capitalism.



After a brief orientation, you will live with a local family in the greater Amsterdam area for the whole of the program. Commute times may vary, taking up to 45 minutes. Your homestay family can help you understand and navigate life in this thriving city of canals. Host families come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and include LGBT households, single parents, young professionals, traditional families, and retirees. All families offer unique insights into Dutch life.  The homestay experience is often described as one of the program’s highlights and one of the most rewarding experiences of the semester.

Your host family will help you navigate the city, culture, and language. Think of them as your insider’s guide and private Dutch tutor who will help you integrate into your new host country. They can introduce you to the best of their neighborhoods—outdoor markets, the perfect café, a local shop—and advise you on the small towns and big cities you ought to visit while you are in the country.

Career Paths

Students on this program come from many different colleges, universities, and majors. Many have gone on to do work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:

  • Associate director of college counseling and history at Mercersburg Academy

  • Birth doula at Birth Partners Doulas of Connecticut

  • Lead field organizer of the Alaska Democratic Party

  • Project member at Love Matters, RNW, Hilversum, Netherlands

Faculty & Staff

Netherlands: Human Trafficking, Sex Trade & Modern Slavery in Europe

Jonathan Key, MA bio link
Jonathan Key, MA
Academic Director
Fiona Kirk, MS bio link
Fiona Kirk, MS
Internship and Program Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

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