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We focus on the serious questions affecting the sex worker industry and related topics. It's time to address the issue of prostitution in America.

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Human Trafficking

In the area of human trafficking, many falsely believe this includes only victims brought to the US from other countries. Another common misconception is that children are not often victims of sex trafficking. Creating a broader understanding of what human trafficking is and how sex trafficking affects every region of the United States is instrumental in bringing about awareness, and most importantly change.

Sex Trafficking Defined

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 200 defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. Under U.S federal law, any minor under the age of 18 induced to commercial sexual activity is a sex trafficking victim, regardless of any methods of coercion used by the trafficker.

This means all minors forced into prostitution, some not even in their teens, are victims of human trafficking. Minors are recruited using coercion in public places and online. Misconceptions about what human trafficking is, result in underreporting, even in cases where someone in the child’s life suspects something is amiss.

Warning signs demonstrated by underage sex trafficking victims include:

How Adult and Underage Victims Are Recruited

Situations of human trafficking victims’ vary to a large degree. Many are romantically involved with a trafficker at first, then find the intention of the relationship to be altered once the subject of performing acts of a sexual nature is introduced. Others are victimized when they believe they are being hired to work as a dancer, model or nanny, when they agree to move to a distant location, only to find the job was never real. In nearly every instance, one or more methods of coercion are put into play by a trafficker.

Traffickers employ techniques designed to prey on individual weaknesses and use situations to their advantage, including targeting children who are unhappy at home. With the emergence of online message boards and social media, securing new victims has become easier for traffickers, instead of more difficult.

Common methods of coercion used by sex traffickers include:

Human Trafficking Statistics

Human Trafficking Facts

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

In a country where prostitution is criminalized, adults who make the conscious choice to work in the sex industry are not victims of sex trafficking. However, their relationship with law enforcement often deters adult women working in prostitution to report witnessing victims of child sex trafficking. Many believe decriminalization of prostitution would result in a higher level of reporting by women who would have otherwise been working illegally as prostitutes and by the victims themselves.

Knowing sex work is illegal, many victims worry about coming forward due the fear of being prosecuted. Traffickers often use threats of legal repercussions as an intimidation tactic to keep their victims from reporting. Being afraid they will be regarded as criminals keeps many underage and adult victims from going to police.

There is no single solution to ending human trafficking, but rather a series of actions that will rob pimps and traffickers of their power when they utilize severe tactics to essentially hold their victims hostage. Law enforcement stings only take a stab at a percentage of the problem, as it has become so rampant. More needs to be done at a grass-roots level to enable community members of all demographics to recognize victims and be emboldened to report suspected trafficking cases.

References:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/endtrafficking/resource/fact-sheet-human-trafficking

https://www.wearethorn.org/blog/6-things-you-should-know-about-state-sex-trafficking-laws/

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-human-trafficking

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oshs/factsheet.html

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