We all pass the roadside billboards that say "End Human Trafficking" and "Not For Sale," but a deeper explanation of the issue of sex trafficking is hard to come by. In fact, there is only a rickety bridge of information between the billboard messages, and the dense online research articles; no scannable, marketing-style resources that can make their way more easily into the general consciousness. Sex trafficking information comes in either a light tap or a heavy downpour.
So far, this blog has served to give you valuable updates on the progress of our documentary project. But we also want to add infrastructure to the bridge of information, and allow this to be a resource for those learning about what sex trafficking is, and a guide for possible steps the average person can take to help affect change on this issue. We will continue to provide updates on the ever-evolving documentary project, and on My Refuge House, and provide insights and news into the world of trafficking.
So what is human trafficking exactly? Trafficking is a global slavery epidemic. It happens everywhere, in every country, every city, right under our noses. Its clutches and snares grow out of the economic issues, and gender roles of each and every culture it inhabits. But it is also very hard to define because there are so many forms of it.
Where Did the Term Originate?
In researching this term, it is hard to find out it's origins, as it refers to most forms of modern slavery. The broadness of the name has deterred understanding, coverage, and the political actions necessary to prevent it.
The more specific term ‘sex trafficking’ may have been born of the feminist movement of the 90s as a means to help narrow down the difference between voluntary and forced prostitution. Putting a name on the coercion of women and young girls into prostitution lead to legal classifications of trafficking, which made the creation of protective laws possible.
What is Sex Trafficking?
Sex trafficking is a sub-category of human trafficking. It involves forced prostitution and sexual acts, mainly of women and girls, though boys are exploited too. The demand for sex workers worldwide is insatiable, and those profiting off of these crimes see an increase in demand anywhere that tourism and business grow.
Though its name suggests otherwise, sex trafficking does not need to involve the transportation of it's victims to be considered trafficking. In other words, the issue of this form of human slavery is not the fact that the enslaved were moved from one place to another. The issue is their forced participation in sexual labor. Some girls have even been ‘trafficked’ and forced into prostitution while still living at home. Their silence and coercion is held in place by threats of violence against them and their families by their ‘trafficker.’
There are several ways that victims can fall into human trafficking that usually involve deception of some kind. False ads for employment are used against people in economically strained areas. Many children are deceived by close community or family members who manipulate their trust to fool them into captivity.
Blake Lively recently spoke about the horrors of child sexual exploitation in a PSA/acceptance speech for Variety's Power of Women New York honoree award.
Lively lays out a few ways to prevent the spread of child pornography, an issue closely related to and often stemming from trafficking. The advertising of a minor child for the purpose of a commercial sex act, as explained in Lively’s speech, is considered an act of trafficking. The preventative measures laid out can help prevent child sex trafficking, as well as helping adult victims.
Along with providing escape for victims, education is the main way we can start combating these crimes. The more advocacy on the realities of trafficking from public figures, the more knowledge will spread on the issue. Educated politicians will instate laws that don’t criminalize sex workers. Educated communities and their targets will be less likely mislead by scams that would trap them in slavery. Educated citizens can start to mobilize against this issue.
Here are some great resources for getting informed on sex trafficking:
Not For Sale Campaign
FBI Data & Action
Do you have any questions about trafficking? Let us know in the comments below.