Sex trafficking includes sexual slavery, often defined as the process by which human beings are forced into prostitution rings or otherwise exploited and victimized by those who would seek to profit. Human beings are sold or traded as part of this process, and if you think it doesn’t happen here in the United States, you’re very wrong.
There are three types of sex trafficking crimes. Acquisition is the process by which new victims are acquired. Movement involves transportation. Exploitation is everything that happens in between. Sex trafficking is in the midst of a rate of expansion that should scare anyone, especially since it often involves the exploitation and victimization of children. Although accurate figures are difficult to pinpoint, the International Labour Organization believes there are nearly 21 million people around the world who are victims of this criminal activity.
Many victims of trafficking choose not to come forward even when provided an opportunity to do so. There were over 22,000 cases reported in 2007, but we’ll never know the full impact until we can unpeel the layers of protection under which the criminals hide. Traditionally, traffickers will deter victims from seeking help by blackmailing the family. Some victims drown themselves in self-blame and could never hope to come forward on their own.
There are a number of factors that contribute to sex trafficking, but one seems to be inequality. Rural poverty seems to be another cause. As immigration laws become more stringent, the problem becomes even worse. Those in poverty leave their own countries without following proper emigration or immigration procedures, and end up trying to find help from loan sharks. Trafficking is only one step further.
Other factors include a general lack of respect for women, zero public awareness, and minimal prevention. It doesn’t help that there is a large demographic involved in the demand for this “service.”
The United States has imposed a number of laws and regulations related to sex trafficking since 2000, but their impact is uncertain, and more than two million women continue to be bought and sold around the world. In particular, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) helps define the legal definitions of human trafficking in the United States, while outlining the consequences. Authorities are not required to prove coercion if the victim was a minor under federal law.