Sex Trafficking has been around since antiquity. Basically any unprotected person , regardless of sex, was at risk of being sexually exploited. The act is as old as time; however, the term sex trafficking is new.
Human Sex Trafficking is a form of modern slavery in which people are basically sold into prostitution without consent. The individuals who sell others into sex slavery profit by sexually exploiting victims. The victims of sex trafficking have a lot of physical and psychological damage as a result. Anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking; the problem affects mostly women and children. however, according to the International Labor Organization 21 million people are in some form of slavery.
Sex Trafficking and Chemical Dependency
Drug abuse is frequent among victims, in fact oppressors encourage drug addiction because this used as a form of control. This control forms a bond between the trafficker and victim because it compels the victim to work for the drug. Not only is the victim dependent on the drug, but also on the trafficker to support his or her addiction. Because of the high and physical euphoria produced by drug use, victims may be more able to work longer hours, perform risky sex acts with clients, and have sex with more clients. Victims may choose to turn to drugs in order to dull the pain of sex abuse and give them “courage” to perform.
- In the United States about 300,000 children are at risk of being forced sex trafficking
- Sex trafficking in the United States generates about $9.5 billion a year.
- According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the average age of child victims of sex trafficking are ages 13 to 14.
- According to the U.S. Justice Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, perpetrators of sex trafficking potentially make between $150,000 to $200,000 a year, per child. On average a pimp has between 4 and 6 girls “working” for him or her.
Health Issues Related To Human Trafficking
There is a host of health issues that associated victims of human sex trafficking. A European study explored the health ramifications of trafficking victims and reported that these victims experienced symptoms of dizzy spells, headache, abdominal pain, memory loss, and fatigue. The study concludes that headaches were most likely the result of a physical manifestation due to emotional and even physical trauma. Other persons suffer from injuries resulting due to physical abuse from rape, being hit, kicked burned, or stabbed. Emotional duress compounded by physical trauma accounts for rapid weight loss and loss of appetite; however, victims are rarely provided a nutritious diet. Furthermore, when other factors such as sleep deprivation due to long workdays of 12 to 14 hours and being forced to service multiple clients, often upward of thirty or more per day are factored in it is no wonder that poor emotional and physical health is the result. However, perhaps one of the most pressing concerns, as far as health is concerned, would be the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the most prevalent being AIDS. Unwanted pregnancies are another result of human sex trafficking.
Sex Trafficking in the United States
- Every year, approximately 240,000 to 325,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation.
- Children considered runaways are most at risk for sex trafficking.
- Girls under age 14 are at higher risk of being forced into the sex industry.
According to the Trafficking in Persons Report of 2011, the United States is regarded as a Tier 1 country for trafficking of all types. This means that the United States’ government complies with the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, a law enacted to eliminate trafficking.
Sex Trafficking in India
In 2012 a horrible rape in Delhi made international news. Newspapers across the globe, reflected the universal reaction of horror and disgust. However, sex trafficking in India does not have the same amount of outrage. According to the United Nations along with India’s Human Rights Commission have declared that India is a major hub for international sex trafficking. In 2013, India’s Parliament passed a law making sex trafficking a crime. This law was in response to Jagdish Sharan Verma, a lawmaker who urged for tougher laws to protect women and children from sex related crimes as well as harsher punishment for sex offenders. Unfortunately, the law is not always enforced. It must be overwhelming for law enforcement, due to the fact that the sex trade in India is growing by the day.
What is the cause of the booming sex trafficking business in India?
The number one factor of this conflict is poverty. Like in any other county, poor, unprotected and vulnerable women and girls are coaxed into slavery under false pretenses of employment and a better life. Some parents are so poor, hungry, and desperate that they resort to selling their daughters to sex traffickers.
Another factor is the over population of urban cities. The sex-selective abortion practices that favored male babies over female babies has led to an over abundance of men and very low number of women. Yet another factor is the country’s caste system. Basically, once born poor, always poor. There is very little, if any hope, to rise above one’s poverty level.
Updating India’s laws are a great first step; however, it is not always effective. This is due to widespread corruption such bribing authorities, trafficking numbers remain quite high.
In the meanwhile, India’s government may try addressing the historic discrimination that occurs because of the chase system. It would be a much added benefit to India’s poor if money was used to enhance education , especially for poor and disadvantaged girls and women. Unfortunately, this probably will not manifest itself until India changes its centuries’ long misogynistic attitude towards women. It is only then that India’s poor and disadvantaged female population will be in control of their destinies.
Sex Trafficking Stories
There are many horrifying stories how victims have been coerced into human trafficking. One such story is that of Holly Austin Smith. In 1992 at the age of 14 she was approached in a New Jersey mall by a much older man who at first befriended her in order to gain her trust. Her parents, of course was not aware of the secret talks over the phone. As Smith recalls, “He took his time. He got to know me. He analyzed my troubles, and he asked me my dreams.” Holly did not know this, but she was being tricked by a pimp, who preyed on her insecurities, her fears of not fitting in at school, what seemed at the time overwhelming life pressures. The pimp convinced her that he had the answer to her problems.
Soon Holly agreed to meet him and before long she was in the mists of a human sex trafficking ring. Like most runaways who get pulled in sex trafficking, Holly was “put to work” within hours of meeting the trafficker. He managed to manipulate her and made her prostitute herself by “working” on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City NJ until dawn the following day. Holly’s horrifying ordeal soon came to an end when a police officer, realizing she was underage, arrested her. As a result, she was reunited with her family. The trafficker, along with two others, was arrested. Unfortunately the perpetrator only served one year in jail. For Holly, it took way longer for her to heal from the effects of her experience. Surprisingly, one of the perpetrators was a woman! Now in her thirties, Holly works tirelessly to advocate for stronger anti trafficking laws, not just for sex trafficking, but for all forms of trafficking.
As if this story was not shocking enough, in desperately poor regions of Cambodia mothers are actually selling their daughters for sex. One story reported by CNN tells of a mother who obtained a “certificate of virginity” from a doctor in order to sell her daughter for $800. According to the news story, Sephak, not her real name, was only 13 at the time when was delivered to a hotel room in Phnom Penh. She was forced to have sex with one man after three nights, she was returned to her mother. As Sephak says, “When I had sex with him, I felt empty inside. I hurt and I felt very weak. It was very difficult. I thought about why I was doing this and why my mom did this to me.” However, after the ordeal, Sephak’s mother pressured her to work in a brothel.
There are many such stories out of Cambodia. Mothers selling their daughters virginity is unfortunately common. Usually families are very poor and do not have the money to feed their families or repay debt. They see this as the only option for survival. Unfortunately, it is the girls who are forced into sex trafficking who are the victims.
Resources to help sex trafficking victims
Polaris and the National Human Trafficking Resources Center (NHTRC)
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center operated by Polaris, has put thousands of callers in touch with the help they needed. Since 2007, this organization has fielded telephone calls, e-mails and on-line tip reports and as a result, it has a very extensive data on the topic of human sex trafficking the U.S.
Here are some additional statistics on the National Human Trafficking Resources Center
Between Dec 7,2007-Dec. 31, 2012 NHTRC had answered:
- 65,557 calls
- 1,735 on-line tip forms
- 5,251 e-mails
- Grand total of 72,000 interactions
Analysis from information collected during this time period:
- 9,298 reported cases of human trafficking
- Sex trafficking reported to the hotline was prostitution operated by a pimp, brothels, and escort services.
- Among the reported cases 41% of sex trafficking victims were U.S. Citizens.
- Of the reported victims according to sex: Women: 85% and Men 40%
The NHTRC reported a 259% increase in calls between 2008 and 2012.
Anyone can report suspicious human sex trafficking activity by calling 1-866-347-2423 or by submitting at this website: www.ice.gov/tips.
Anyone in any country can report suspicious criminal activity to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line anytime 24/7. Callers not in the United States can call 802-872-6199.
The Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking—www.endslaveryandtrafficking.org/
This organization is dedicated to abolishing sex trafficking, as well as other forms of human trafficking, around the globe.
Coalition to Abolish Slavery–www.castla.org/
Their mission is to help sex trafficking and forced labor victims.
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women—www.catwinternational.org/
Their purpose is to end human trafficking. They have a worldwide network which engages in ongoing projects and campaigns to fight human trafficking by way of focused prevention techniques, legislation,education, gender equality and direct services for victims. Their projects and campaigns focus on survivors’ human rights and advocate victims’ protection and punishment for perpetrators of sex trafficking.
Sex Trafficking Myths Debunked
Myth: Human trafficking and human smuggling are the same thing.
Truth: Smuggling involves crossing borders illegally. In this case the crime is against the county’s boarder, not necessarily the people involved. Human trafficking on the other hand is a crime against a person involving sexual acts, labor or services brought about through coercion, force, fraud. Unlike smuggling, transportation does not have to be a factor.
Myth: Sex Trafficking victims are only foreign nationals.
Truth: Absolutely not true! Anyone, regardless of nationality can become a victim. .
Myth: Anyone who knowingly engages in illegal activities are not really victims of sex trafficking. Truth: Those who engage in sex trafficking are forced to do so against their will. They are victims not criminals.
Myth: Victims of human trafficking are usually physically restrained, held in bondage, or physically abused.
Truth: The victims of sex trafficking do not have to be retrained, physically abused or locked away. In fact, pimps use drugs, and psychological abuse, fear, threats in order to break down victims so they are obedient.
Sex trafficking is a crime that affects us all. The physical and psychological damage it renders on the victims will soon haunt future generations as these victims choose to start families. Many victims do not have access or knowledge of resources that can help them. Everyone can fight human sex trafficking by reporting any information to the appropriate organizations. Hopefully, this horrible crime will be irradiated, but it will not unless people start seeing women and children as human and not commodities.