Comparing Sourcing Strategies

By Joshua D. Payne ’18

International black-markets are the medium for transfer of many different types of goods and services. The variance in these commodities and the methods of their acquisition, distribution, and sale are just as diverse. Two examples of this would be the differences in the trade in “bodies” and in body parts. Though the trade and sale of bodies and body parts may seem similar the way they are handled through the market are for the most part quite different, from the way that they are moved, sold, and controlled, but there is one major step in which these two illegal marketplaces converge and that is in their sourcing.

The so-called trade in bodies is really a term that encompasses many different forms of human trafficking. Whether it be the smuggling of illegal immigrants in and out of countries, exploitation of sex workers, or forced labor these are all different forms of this illicit trade. The main convergence between the trade of bodies and body parts are in the way that their respective suppliers source them. The stories of those who have been trafficked are plentiful and more often than not, recounts of nightmares in the victims lives the abduction and coercion of these individuals is extensive and abundant. Graphic Journalist Dan Archer has set out in an attempt to stop this trade through his artistic talents to bring and attention to the problem in the hopes of creating change. Through his novel Borderland: Seven Stories as Told by Victims of Human Trafficking, Archer recounts seven different experiences that he combined from many different accounts from victims. These stories show multiple different ways that traffickers use to trick and coerce their victims. Though Archer does a good job showing the variance in the backgrounds of victims breaking the stereotype that all those who are trafficked are small, weak, and powerless with stories of educated and strong individuals. Individuals who are often down on their luck, in need of work and will jump at any opportunity at a better life, this hardship makes it easy for traffickers to make these poor souls into their victims. Dangling stories of opportunity and prosperity in front of them and all that they must do is come with them and before they know it their lives are forever changed.

However the sourcing and acquisition of body parts is quite different, with a common convergent thread, preying on the weak. Unfortunately the term, “donor organs” is the primary one used but in reality not every “donation” is done voluntarily. There is the process of voluntarily giving an organ to a loved one like a kidney, or being a organ donor, but these are not the only ways used. The high demand for organs like hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, have created a huge surplus in demand from first world countries without enough demand to satisfy it and because modern science has yet to produce such organs artificially, the incentive has been created to source these organs by other methods. Researchers have found trends of those from western and first world countries having organs forcibly “sourced” from individuals in less developed countries in South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, “Residents of the shantytown Alto do Cruzeiro in Northeast Brazil, reported sightings of large blue and yellow vans driven by Americans, sometimes by Japanese agents, who were said to be scouring poor neighborhoods in search of stray youngsters. The children would be nabbed and shoved into the back of the van. Later their discarded bodies, minus heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and eyes, would turn up by the side of the roads, in between rows of sugarcane, or in hospital dumpsters (Scheper-Hughes).” These horror stories are being told around the world, of the strong taking advantage of the weak and the marginalized in society and yet little has been done to curb the problem. And the problems are not just in Brazil or other third world countries, “Paolo Toscelli wrote a series of articles about rumors of poor children kidnapped for their organs in Italy. Over 200 children were reported kidnapped and missing in Italy during 1990 alone (Scheper-Hughes).” Such stories are hard to prove conclusively but similar rumors are being heard around the world.

So what is the relation between these two phenomenon, the sourcing of bodies and body parts? I believe that though the processes that these two trades must go through in the black market are quite different, that they actually converge in their origin. Both bodies and body parts can be sourced in a legal manner, if someone needs a kidney and a family member is a match then they can willingly give it to their loved one. Just as if workers are needed to build a house then they can be hired through a construction firm. But just as both products can be sourced legally they may also be sourced illegally. As shown by Archer victims of trafficking are abused, abducted, and coerced. Tricked into believing that there will be prosperity on the other side while in reality all that comes is more pain and abuse. Body parts are illegally sourced in a similar way except that unlike the trafficking of bodies where the bodies are needed alive for a service, the only value in the trafficking of body parts is in the parts themselves, so in the process of sourcing these organs no concern is given to the lives of the victims who are simply discarded after they have been reaped of their commodities. The sourcing of both these products are incredibly cruel and often violent, their existence is perhaps the darkest shadows cast upon our society as a whole. Until more people stand up in protest of these practices both in their supply and in their demand these abominable human rights abuses will continue to be practiced, and profited from.

Works Cited

Archer, Dan, and Olga Trusova. Borderland: Seven Lives, Seven Stories, as Told by           Victims of Human Trafficking. 1st ed. United States:, 2010. Print.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. “Theft of Life: The Globalization of Organ Stealing Rumours.”    Anthropology Today 12.3 (1996): 3-11. Web.

Guoqi, Wang. “Habeas Corpus.” Harpers Monthly Feb. 2002: 22-25. Web.

Market differences between cadavers and transplant organs

By Cam Elliot ’18

Cadavers and transplant organs seem at first to be very similar products. After all, both are produced by the same process, that is, people, and one is made up of the other. In practice, however, the markets for these two human products are quite distinct. Transplant organs and cadavers enter the supply chain in different locations as a result of significant difference in the ease with which governments can regulate the two markets.

Cadavers, which have been dead for some time and have no organs that can be used in transplant procedures, enter the supply chain primarily from various willed-body programs in the developed world (Cheney). Tulane University, for example, does not make use of roughly two thirds of the cadavers that it receives- instead, these bodies are distributed by third-party firms, which profit from the transportation process (Mangan). This trading on U.S soil is possible for several reasons. Firstly, although the sale of human organs for transplant is illegal in the U.S, the sale of cadavers is “a gray zone” (Mangan).

Furthermore, willed-body programs include “little supervision of procedures” and donors usually agree to terms that “do not spell out the uses to which their remains might be put” (Phillips). Finally, there is a significant legal loophole that protects corpse brokers: Although selling cadavers is illegal in the U.S, a would-be cadaver salesman can charge as much as they wish for transporting the body, without violating the law (Phillips). Transplant organs, however, are a very different animal, as they are well-regulated and carefully monitored within the U.S (Phillips.) As a result, those in need of organs look abroad, to countries that either cannot or do not prohibit organ sales, and that have large, poor populations desperate enough to sell their organs. Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, is one of the cheapest source of organs, and many Moldovans know someone who has sold a kidney, even if they have not done so themselves (Sanduta). Similarly, many Bangladeshi sell their organs to pay off debts they would otherwise be forced to default on (Cousins). Other sources include India, China, Brazil, Pakistan, and Romania (Dillard-Wright). Ethical concerns aside, this divergence in supply is a result of significant differences in the transplant organ and cadaver markets. One of the primary contributors to the supply divergence is the relative difficult with which laws governing the two markets can be enforced.

Transplant organs need to be alive at the time of transplantation. In practice, this means that either a living person must be brought to a place where the transplant can occur, or a preserved organ must be brought to the buyer extremely quickly after removal. Furthermore, buyers may want a hospital in the developed world that they know to be reliable to confirm that the organ in question is a match for them, like the purchasers of Moldovan kidneys (Sanduta). An individual with a very high degree of skill is also needed to perform the actual transplant. This leads to a market that can be easily regulated, provided the government of a region has sufficient resources to do so. This is because organ transplants tend to create trails that a law enforcement agency can follow, and provide points of attack for countries, such as the U.S, that are interested in preventing the sale of organs. As a result, within the U.S, organ donation is “all above board and tightly regulated” (Phillips). This stands in stark distinction to the trade in bodies. The most visible distinction is the lack of a living person missing a kidney who might protest the vendor’s actions, and it is a significant one- people are far more likely to pay attention to living people than dead bodies. Due to this, cadavers can be transported much like any other package, or even sent through the U.S postal system. (Cheney). What is more, after a cadaver has been through the market, “cremation covers up unscrupulous operator’s tracks” (Phillips). An organ sale, even if the initial exchange is completed discretely, leaves lasting marks. Implant receivers will likely need anti-rejection drugs, post-op care, and other medical treatment, all of which will be visible in medical records. This lack of discretion makes it easier for organ traffickers to locate a supply that is technically legal, or located in a country that is unlikely to pursue the crime, and deal with the logistics of transporting these organs to the buyers in the developed world than it would be for them to attempt to harvest organs closer to the buyers. Cadaver brokers, by contrast, are better served by taking advantage of the readily-available supply of bodies within the U.S, secure in the knowledge that any laws more restrictive than those currently in place would likely be too costly to enforce in the current political climate.

Recognizing the divergences between these two markets is critical if we wish to effectively regulate either of them. Enforcement efforts in cadaver-trading using the same policing methods as in the organ trade will almost certainly fail, due to the minimal evidence left behind in cadaver trading. It may be easier to limit the cadaver trade through economic disincentives such as taxes then by trying to track down its participants and bring criminal charges against them. Meanwhile, the organ trade is more easily pursued as a criminal matter, due to its more traceable nature- however, to eliminate it, international pressure must be applied to incentivize countries where organ purchases frequently occur to work against the organ trade.

 Works Cited

Cheney, Annie. “The Resurrection Men.” Harper’s Magazine 308.1846 (2004): 45-54.Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Cousins, Sophie. “Desperate Measures.” New Internationalist 467 (2013): 42-43. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Dillard-Wright, David B. “Life, Transferable: Questioning The Commodity-Based Approach To Transplantation Ethics.” Society & Animals 20.2 (2012): 138-153. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Mangan, Katherine S. “The Remains Of Dismay.” Chronicle Of Higher Education50.37 (2004): A27-A28. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Phillips, Stephen. “The Return Of The Body Snatchers.” Times Higher Education Supplement 1633 (2004): 22. Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Sanduta, Iurie, and Barbara Frye. “Selling Themselves.” Transitions Online (2013): 8.Academic Search Complete. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Bodies for Sale

By Ellie DePastino ’18

In a globalized world full of consumers, humans want commodities. Whether it is food to feed a family, or the newest model of a computer, there always exists a demand for products. An odd dichotomy exists, though, when humans are introduced as commodities. Manual labor, sex slavery, and organ transplants all require humans, and these services and commodities associate humans with value that reflects the price of these commodities. By attaching a price to the legal or illegal services humans perform, people run the risk of putting lives in danger and degrading the value of life. While organ and sex trafficking both define humans and human parts as commodities, they differ in the fact that organ trafficking operates as a response to an above ground global shortage, while sex trafficking exists to fulfill an underground need.

The sex industry degrades humans by naming sex a commodity. In Jane Smith’s piece, “Making Movies,” she emphasizes the prices allocated to different sex acts: $25 for a “strip for the camera,” “fifty dollars for a double,” and “for a real f*ck movie,” $75.[1] Not only does setting a price for acting in pornography define sex as a commodity, but the price increments emphasize how more sexual involvement implies a higher value. Outside of pornography, Dan Archer and Olga Trusova display in the graphic novel “Borderlands” the very real experiences of people being sex trafficked and the individual damage done from this industry. Svetlana’s story traces how her pimp views her body as a commodity. She says that her pimp “bought me pretty dresses, and some clients even bought me champagne, provided I did what they wanted.”[2] This exchange of goods for sex as a service shows how sex trafficking removes humanity from people by treating humans as goods. Smith, Archer and Trusova convey how humans are seen as commodities through the porn industry and through sex trafficking—just as organs are seen as goods. However, the point of divergence between the sex industry and organ trafficking involves the amount and legality of the existing demand.

Just as sex trafficking uses bodies as goods, organ trafficking defines humans as commodities in both low- and high-income nations. The practice of organ stealing shows just how valuable body parts are, and it has plagued poor towns in countries across the globe. Anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes writes of these destitute people, often children, who are murdered for their body parts. “Body snatching rumours” stir fear in rural villages that are subject to child abductions. She notes the “municipal truck” seen one day carrying “the remains of an unknown, unclaimed man.”[3] The way these bodies are cared for is tragic, as they are often “mixed up and lost in the cemetery, making it difficult to honour the dead in small Catholic rituals.”[4] Bodies are often treated as disposable goods in low-income countries, and price tags are stuck on them in more well-off nations. In Serbia, a nation suffering from economic crisis, many people ask for tens of thousands of dollars for a kidney. After losing his job, Belgrade resident Pavle Mircov put an advertisement online with his blood type and phone number. He put a $40,000 price tag on his kidney, for he says, “my financial situation is very difficult. I lost my job and I need money for school and for my two children.”[5] The grey market for organs commodifies body parts as a result of the high organ demand, traffickers commit horrifying crimes to obtain organs, and “donors” offer up their organs for a large amount of money in their pocket.

Organ trafficking and sex trafficking both attach a price to a human body, yet the role supply plays into each system separates the two. The global organ shortage crisis affect The World Health organization estimates that the supply of organs does not meet “more than a tenth of the need.”[6]Another estimate states that 18 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.[7] With this organ shortage crisis, people around the world respond by trying to sell their organs, knowing the high demand and low supply will yield high pay. Additionally, the demand for organs is traced back to individuals that need an organ transplant to save their lives. Because this demand exists above-ground and is legal, it differs from those who demand sex from underground, illicit prostitutes and pimps.

A stunning aspect of organ trafficking is they way it operates within legal spheres. Wang Guoqi details his experience with legal organ extraction in his piece “Habeas Corpus.” Working as a doctor at the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Hospital, he extracted organs from executed prisoners. He recalls the time a prisoner “lay convulsing,” while he and others removed the kidneys and the skin. Throughout the process, “the prisoner was still breathing and his heart continued to beat.” The team decided to save “no way he can survive.”[8] The fact that organs are harvested from breathing bodies close to death is appalling, and it shows the greater extrinsic value placed on bodies compared to their value alive. Activities like these can occur because the demand is so high, and traffickers and extractors harvest high value parts with low costs to them. Guoqi concludes by expanding on the high moral costs that caused him to quit the industry, saying it had “tortured my conscience to no end.”[9]

Though sex trafficking and organ trafficking are similar in the way they define humans as commodities, the two systems diverge at the point of supply shortages. The organ shortage crisis drives individuals to “donate” their organs for pay, while it drives traffickers to commit horrendous acts in order to obtain a high value good. The sex industry does not suffer from a shortage in supply, and the underground demand for sex is fulfilled by an underground supply.

[1] Smith, 136-140.

[2] Archer and Trusova.

[3] Scheper-Hughes, 3.

[4] Ibid, 5.

[5] Bilefsky.

[6] Transplant Brokers, 2.

[7] Clark, Marcia and William Travis Clark.

[8] Guogi, 24.

[9] Ibid, 23.

 Works Cited

Archer, Dan, and Olga Trusova. Borderland. Dan Archer and Olga Trusova, 2010. Print.

Bilefsky, Dan. “Black Market for Body Parts Spreads Among the Poor in Europe.” The

New York Times 28 June 2012. The New York Times Company. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <>.

Clark, Marcia, and William Travis Clark. “Selling Your Organs: Should It Be Legal? Do

You Own Yourself?” Forbes., 13 June 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2014. <>.

Guoqi, Wang. “Habeas Corpus.” Harper’s Magazine 304.1821 Feb. 2002: 22-25. Web.

Sack, Kevin. “Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa

Rica.” The New York Times 17 Aug. 2014. The New York Times Company. Web. 26 Oct. 2014. <>.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. “Theft of Life: The Globalization of Organ Stealing Rumors.”

Anthropology Today 12.3 (1996): 3-11. Web.

Smith, Jane. “Making Movies.” Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry 2

(1987): 135-41. Print.

Sarah McKinnon’s Storify

Sara McKinnon speaks about “Standing in Her Shoes: Transnational Politics in U.S. Asylum Policy for Chinese Opposing Population Control.” at the College of Wooster as part of the Borderlands Series organizaed by three first year seminar classes. [View the story “Standing in her shoes” on Storify]

Our storify on the first two conversations!

Kevin Bales on modern slavery