Human trafficking is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal. Trafficking is a lucrative industry, representing an estimated $32 billion per year in international trade, compared to the estimated annual $650 billion for all illegal international trade circa 2010.
There is no universally accepted definition of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The term was formerly thought of as the organized movement of people, usually women, between countries and within countries for sex work with the use of physical coercion, deception and bondage through forced debt. However, according to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, movement is not an element necessary for the crime. The issue becomes contentious when the element of coercion is removed from the definition to incorporate facilitating the willing involvement in prostitution. For example, in the United Kingdom, The Sexual Offenses Act 2003 incorporated trafficking for sexual exploitation but did not require those committing the offence to use coercion, deception or force, so that it also includes any person who enters the UK to carry out sex work with consent as having been trafficked. In addition, any minor involved in a commercial sex act in the United States while under the age of 18 qualifies as a trafficking victim, even if no force, fraud or coercion is involved, under the definition of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons, in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
Sexual trafficking includes coercing a migrant into a sexual act as a condition of allowing or arranging the migration. Sexual trafficking uses physical or sexual coercion, deception, abuse of power and bondage incurred through forced debt. Trafficked women and youngsters, for instance, are often promised work in the domestic or service industry, but instead are sometimes taken to brothels where they are used in Sex worker, with their passports and other identification papers confiscated. They may be beaten or locked up and promised their freedom only after earning – through prostitution – their purchase price, as well as their travel and visa costs.
The Yogyakarta Principles, a document on international human rights law on sexual orientation and gender identity, also affirms that "States shall (c) establish legal, educational and social measures, service and programs to address factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking, sale and all forms of exploitation, including but not limited to sexual exploitation, on the grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, including such factors as social exclusion, discrimination, rejection by families or cultural communities, lack of financial independence, homelessness, discriminatory social attitudes leading to low self-esteem, and lack of protection from discrimination in access to housing accommodation, employment and social services.
Sex trafficking victims are generally found in dire circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. Individuals, circumstances, and situations vulnerable to traffickers include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, job seekers, tourists, kidnap victims and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background.
Traffickers, also known as pimps or madams, exploit vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities, while offering promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry Various work in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude. Underage sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are often runaways, troubled, and homeless youth.
Human trafficking does not require travel or transport from one location to another, but one form of sex trafficking involves international agents and brokers who arrange travel and job placements for women from one country. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. However, once they reach their destination, the women discover that they have been deceived and learn the true nature of the work that they will be expected to do. Most have been told false information regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous. According to a 2009 U.S. Department of Justice report, there were 1,229 suspected human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 percent were sex trafficking cases, though only 9% of all cases could be confirmed as examples of human trafficking.
Profile and modus operandi of traffickers
Traffickers of young girls into prostitution in India are often women who have been trafficked themselves. As adults they use personal relationships and trust in their villages of origin to recruit additional girls.
In some cases, traffickers approach financially vulnerable women (including underage girls) to offer them "legitimate" work or the promise of an opportunity for education. The main types of work offered are in the catering and hotel industry, in bars and clubs, modeling contracts, or au pair work. Traffickers sometimes use offers of marriage, threats, intimidation, and kidnapping as means of obtaining victims. In many cases, the women end up trafficked into the sex industry. Also, some (migrating) prostitutes (See: migrant sex work) can become victims of human trafficking because the women know they will be working as prostitutes, but they are led to have an inaccurate view of the circumstances and the conditions of the work in their country of destination, and consequently get exploited.
In order to obtain control over their victims, traffickers will use force, drugs, emotional tactics and financial methods. On occasion, they will even resort to various forms of violence, such as gang rape and mental and physical abuse. Sometimes, the victims will succumb to Stockholm Syndrome because their captors will pretend to "love" and "need" them, even going so far as promise marriage and future stability. This is particularly effective with younger victims, because they are more inexperienced and therefore easily manipulated.
Profile of customers
While people buy sex from both women and men, and customers are also not exclusive to males, human trafficking victims are predominantly females who engage in commercial sex with male customers. Studies agree that customers who buy sex from females are men of all ages, race, and socioeconomic backgrounds. There are conflicting opinions on the motivations of customers, sometimes called johns. Some say they are inherently violent and dangerous, while others claim that they buy sex for non-violent reasons. Abolitionists who fight against sex trafficking typically portray customers as psychologically abnormal: criminally-inclined, rapists, and obsessive porn users. On the other hand, other studies find that the majority are not psychologically troubled but buy sex for many different reasons. Customers may be disabled, travelers, sex addicts, or looking for a specific sexual experience, and usually cannot tell if the sex worker they interact with is trafficked or not, so it is uncertain whether or not customers seek out trafficked women to have sex with. Studies are inconclusive also because very few customers voluntarily participate and data are limited as not all are prosecuted, so the customers studied may not be entirely truthful or representative of customers at large.
Profile of victims
The main motive of a woman (in some cases, an underage girl) to accept an offer from a trafficker is better financial opportunities for herself or her family. A study on the origin countries of trafficking confirms that most trafficking victims are not the poorest in their countries of origin, and sex trafficking victims are likely to be women from countries with some freedom to travel alone and some economic freedom.
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