This article analyses the relationships between the colonial government in the Federated Malay States (FMS), international social movement organisations, the League of Nations and sex trafficking. While there is considerable scholarship on social movement organisations and the League of Nations, far less is known about the links between internationalism, colonialism and sex trafficking. After the First World War, trafficking became the focus of social movement organisations and the League of Nations, but colonial regulation of prostitution and tolerated brothels complicated international responses to trafficking. Colonial administrators saw prostitution as an essential service, whereas feminist and international social movement organisations saw prostitution as an impetus for trafficking. This article engages with newspaper reports, colonial correspondence and Chinese petitions, archival material from social movement organisations, and reports by the Association of Moral and Social Hygiene, the League of Nations and the Chinese Secretariat to extend the literature on the historiography of trafficking and the British Empire.
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