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What this 100-year-old sex trafficking case tells us about modern exploitation and justice

By Julia Laite, Reader In Modern History, Department Of History, Classics & Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London
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In January 1910, a 16-year-old girl named Lydia Harvey boarded a steamship in Wellington, New Zealand, bound for Buenos Aires. She had been recruited by a pimp to work in Argentina’s booming sex trade. After a traumatic month in South America, she was brought to London where she was forced to solicit in the West End. It was here that Metropolitan police officers found her and used her as the star witness in a case against her traffickers.

Lydia Harvey’s story probably sounds familiar to 21st-century ears, even if it is a little surprising to learn that sex trafficking — often thought…

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