What Is Sex Trafficking?
When someone is forced or manipulated into having sex or related acts and another person benefits financially, that is considered sex trafficking. This crime of forced prostitution is a type of modern-day slavery. Many people don’t realize that it happens right here in the U.S. on a regular basis.
Sex trafficking occurs in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Victims can be anyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, or citizenship status.
Human traffickers tend to prey on individuals who are vulnerable, struggling economically, or living in an unsafe or unstable situation.
According to the United States Department of Justice, “Trafficking victims are deceived by false promises of love, a good job, or a stable life and are lured or forced into situations where they are made to work under deplorable conditions with little or no pay.”
Sex trafficking occurs in many ways, including street prostitution, brothels, illicit massage parlors, escort services, and via online advertising.
Sex Trafficking Is Forced Prostitution
According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), sex trafficking has occurred if a “commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.”
A commercial sex act is defined as “any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.” That includes “remote sexual acts” such as webcamming.
Trafficking is about exploitation –– not transportation. Illegally transporting humans is called smuggling.
How Do You Know If You’ve Been Trafficked?
Victims of sex trafficking often end up in this situation because they were tricked or lied to by someone. It may be that someone pretended to be your boyfriend or girlfriend, but was really luring you into performing these sex acts for money.
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Other survivors were promised what they thought were legitimate jobs or a place to live. But it turns out that was a bait and switch. The survivors would not have relocated or gone with the trafficker if they had been told the truth.
Still other victims were lured by family members. Relatives may begin “grooming” girls and boys when they are as young as 12 years old for future sex trafficking. They give you attention and love, so you trust in them and will do whatever they ask you to do.
Sex trafficking victims can be male or female, cisgender or transgender. Ask yourself:
- Were you held against your will?
- Did someone other than yourself receive money (or something else of value, like drugs) from sex acts you performed?
- Were you manipulated or forced into performing sex acts using force, fraud, or coercion?
Force includes physical violence, rape and other forms of sexual abuse, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, and psychological abuse.
Fraud includes being lured into the sex trade through the promise of a better life; a false offer of a job such as a model, actress, nanny; or a deceptive romantic relationship or friendship.
Coercion includes threats of serious harm to you or your family, threats of deportation or arrest, threats of shame through “outing” you to your family or community, and other types of psychological manipulations such as telling you that you owe a debt you must repay.
What Can You Do About It?
If you are a sex trafficking victim, reach out to us. We understand that you have survived a traumatic situation, and want to hear from you.
We may be able to help you get compensation for the way you were treated. You may be eligible for financial compensation from third parties, like hotels and transportation services, who profited from your situation and turned a blind eye to your exploitation.