Sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons who under threat, force, coercion, fraud, deception or abuse of power are sexually exploited for the economic gain of another.
Anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of age, gender identity, race or ethnicity. Victims are often targeted for profit by gangs or organized crime groups who recruit and sell victims.
Trafficking involves the use of force or coercion
Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that involves the use of force or coercion to control victims for the purpose of performing commercial sex acts or labor services against their will. It is a criminal act and can occur across borders.
Sex trafficking can happen in a variety of settings, including brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution. It can also happen in homes or in private places.
Sexual trafficking can involve children or adults. It can be perpetrated by a single individual or it can be a part of a network of traffickers.
The United States defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of an individual who under the threat of force, fraud or coercion is induced to perform a commercial sex act (22 U.S.C. SS 7102).
In addition, sex trafficking may be committed by government officials and their employees. It can also be committed by families who allow their children to be exploited in exchange for drugs, money or something of value.
Anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking, whether they are male, female, young, old, have a criminal history, or are homeless. It is a problem that affects people from all backgrounds, but some are more vulnerable than others.
Survivors of sex trafficking often suffer severe trauma and need medical treatment, therapy and support to recover from their ordeal. This trauma can lead to lifelong problems such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety.
Many victims of sex trafficking are runaway or homeless youth, who have been abused, neglected, and/or come from a poor background. They are more likely to be recruited into sex trafficking because it is their only source of income and they are unable to leave the situation.
Because victims of sex trafficking are so vulnerable, they are easy targets for exploitation. Traffickers can lure them with promises of a better life, a good job, or romance. The risk of being a victim of trafficking is higher for LGBTQ youth, people with a criminal history, and those who have experienced child abuse or neglect, or who are in the foster care system.
It involves the use of debts
The use of debts as a means to compel an individual to engage in labor or commercial sex against their will is a crime. Debts can include transportation fees, interest charges, and even fines for noncompliance with quotas.
Traffickers may also manipulate a victim’s finances to keep them in the dark about how much they owe. They may make victims sign loan documents, withhold or deduct wages, or demand that they assume debts for expenses like food and clothing.
Survivors report that the use of debts is both an efficient way to control a victim and a powerful source of revenue for traffickers. Often, traffickers will make the victims believe that the debt is legal and that it will not affect their ability to get housing, jobs or credit on fair terms.
Some traffickers will go as far as to tell a victim they have inherited the debt from relatives or friends. The use of debts to enslave an individual is illegal and potentially dangerous and should be investigated by law enforcement.
There are three main types of trafficking – forced labor, sexual servitude and debt bondage – each of which has its own unique characteristics. The federal law identifies the most common type of trafficking as forced labor while states have their own laws to protect vulnerable victims of trafficking.
The best way to help a potential trafficking victim is by observing subtle and not so subtle signs of abuse. If a client seems nervous, shy or has been given strangely high doses of medication, you should speak to someone who can provide support and guidance. The more time and effort you put into getting to know a client, the better your chances of helping them.
It involves the use of social media
Sex trafficking is a criminal industry that focuses on exploiting vulnerable women and girls. It is one of the fastest growing sectors of modern-day slavery and uses a variety of tactics to force victims into sexual exploitation.
According to The Polaris Project, the majority of sex trafficking victims meet their abuser online, including in-person or through text, websites, and apps. This is a huge increase from decades ago when most people met their traffickers face to face.
The use of social media is a key tool for sex traffickers to recruit young victims and groom them. They target the most vulnerable youth, such as those who post about troubles at home or indicators of low self-esteem.
This allows traffickers to build rapport with their potential victims and gain trust, while also offering them the opportunity to escape their current situation. Often, they will start by sending flattering messages that make their victims feel special and heard.
Once the relationship is established, they will continue to communicate with their victims, often sending them gifts or money. They will also promise to help their victims escape from their current situation or find a new job.
Another way that sex traffickers recruit their victims is through online dating sites and apps. These websites allow them to connect with many different types of people, and they can often get to know a victim very quickly.
If you think your child might be at risk of being recruited for sex trafficking, be sure to check their social media accounts and talk with them about the risks. This will help them understand the dangers and how to keep themselves safe.
For example, if your child has a Facebook profile and you are concerned sex traffickers might target them, you can set strict privacy settings so that only their friends or followers can see the content of their account. Then you can monitor their use of the platform, and report any suspicious activity to your local authorities if necessary.
Despite their countless benefits, social media has become a key tool for traffickers to exploit their victims and steal their identities. As a result, social media companies and governments must work together to establish effective laws to protect their users.
It involves the use of online advertisements
Sex trafficking is a form of commercial sexual exploitation that entails using force, fraud, or coercion to lure or recruit victims for prostitution or other forms of illicit sexual activity. It is illegal under federal law (22 USC SS 7102).
Unlike labor trafficking, which consists of employment opportunities and promises of fair wages, sex trafficking relies on deceit. In addition to offering a promising employment opportunity, traffickers often offer compensation that can be significantly less than the market value of the victim’s services.
Online advertisements are an important tool for traffickers. These ads allow traffickers to advertise their escorts and recruit new victims without having to go outside their networks. However, they can also make it difficult for investigators to identify potential victims.
Researchers from UC Berkeley found that several commonly used ad characteristics can help investigators narrow down their search for possible trafficking cases. These include a stated age under 23 and a controlled movement language. The results suggest that these factors may have high predictive power for identifying potential trafficking victims.
Another ad characteristic that could help investigators is an obscured phone number. Researchers found that this obfuscation technique increases the likelihood of trafficking by almost 12 times.
Moreover, it is more likely to occur when the phone number is on a mobile device than on a computer. In this way, a sex trafficker can target victims who are on the move.
These findings suggest that it is essential for law enforcement and prosecutors to develop a set of tools that will help them more easily identify victims of human trafficking. The team is working to develop a suite of freely available escort ad analysis tools that police and non-profits can use to identify trafficking rings and their victims.
Currently, law enforcement and other organizations struggle to find victims hidden in thousands of online ads every year. These efforts have been hindered by the pseudonymous nature of adult ads, the inclination of sex traffickers to employ multiple phone numbers and email addresses to avoid detection and the difficulty in determining which online ads reflect willing participants in the sex trade and which reflect victims forced into prostitution.