Sex Trafficking and Sexual Slavery Problems

Introduction

Sex trafficking is a social problem affecting millions of victims. Every day hundreds of women and children fall victim to sexual exploitation for profit without an adequate response from the international community and legal enforcement of local legislation, thus becoming a problem of international dimension.

According to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, 2000) established by the U.S government in 2000 to end human trafficking, “sex trafficking means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act” (sec. 103, 9). Commercial sex is “any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person” (sec. 103, 3). United Nations defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a human being by force, fraud, or coercion, for the significance of sexual exploitation (Alexandre et al., 2014). It includes victims who are less than 18 years of age and means that the selling of women or men in brothels and the pimping of young girls on the streets, is sex trafficking. The actual definition of sex trafficking may not require any movement; it can take the form of “prostitution, pornography, stripping, escort services, and other sexual services” (Kotrla, 2010, p. 182).

Analysis

The International Labor Office (2012) in Geneva has estimated that more than 4.5 million children and adults are victims of forced sex servitude (p.13). According to Farley et al. (2003), 82% of sex trafficking victims have been physically assaulted, 78% of these women have been threatened, 60% have been kidnapped, and 40% have been raped more than three times. Edwards, Iritani, and Hallfors (2006) found that the primary causes of sex trafficking are family sexual assaults, dependence on drugs, family dysfunctions, and social failures. The mortality rate of women exposed to sex trafficking is 35% higher than that of women who voluntarily participate in prostitution (Edwards et al., 2006). The victims of sex trafficking are exposed to physical and psychological damages such as sexually transmitted diseases, damaged reproductive organs, and stunted emotional growth.

Prosperity and further development of sex trafficking all over the globe have historical roots. Once the slave trade was legal, and there is no secret that the slaves were often forced to have sexual relations with their masters. Even though slavery was abolished, its forms, such as sexual exploitation and sexual slavery, remained, however, illegally as a part of the black economy (Hunt, 2013, p. 226) being one of its fastest-growing sectors. Another historical reason for sex trafficking is economic globalization:

While sex trafficking has thrived everywhere across the world, three primary origin regions emerged in the 1990s: South Asia, Central, and Eastern Europe, and East Asia. Historical factors in each of these geographic regions helped promote sex slavery: extreme poverty, severe gender bias, and acute minority disenfranchisement. Globalization-related crises exacerbated these factors, leaving tens of millions of individuals vulnerable to exploitation. This vulnerability, coupled with pervasive male demand to purchase sex, provided the perfect environment for the proliferation of sex trafficking. (Kara, 2009, p. 25)

The primary reason for the criminalization of sex trafficking is the economic profitability of such deals because it is a low-cost but high-profit industry. What is more, sex slaves are forced to have numerous sexual contacts during a day, and very often, they are not paid for their work (Robertson, 2012, p. 4). Many stakeholders are contributing to the sex trafficking business from small-time criminals to large, organized criminal groups carrying out activities all over the globe (Kara, 2009, p. 22). Speaking of small-time criminals, they contribute to sex trafficking on a local or regional scale, while organized criminal groups act on larger up to international scales. The area of their business goes far beyond solely sex slavery to trading in drugs, arms, and organs. They can contribute to the sex trafficking problem, but until there is the demand for this kind of service, there is no economic sense to cease the supplies, so they only add to the existing problem of an increasing number of sex slaves. Another problem with their activities is that they invest money gained from their illegal business into legal projects and industry. That is why it becomes unprofitable for the state to outlaw the criminal grouping because they contribute to the development of the national economy.

Another problem with sex trafficking is a steady demand for sex services. What is more, sometimes, clients desire virgins that result in adding to enslaving for sexual purposes children and teenagers (Robertson, 2012, p. 4). Moreover, society often tolerates prostitution, which is why the problem of sex trafficking cannot be addressed and solved (Hunt, 2013, p. 225). However, the most crucial challenge is the lack of adequate response to the problem on the part of the international community. It is characterized by inadequate legislation and underfunding and incoordination of organizations aimed at combating sex trafficking (Kara, 2009, p. 3). Up to 2000, when the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, no legislation would provide a comprehensive address to the problem of sex trafficking on the international level (Robertson, 2012, p. 11).

Governments and international organizations can take a series of steps to eradicate the challenge or at least limit to the maximum. First of all, provide further development of international organizations and adopt global documents to control sex trafficking. Second, it is of significant importance to target the demand for the sexual services because without taking such action, none of the above will help eradicate the problem (Robertson, 2012, p. 5). Third, illegalizing prostitution may also have a positive impact on solving sex trafficking because, in the states where prostitution is legal, the number of sex slaves is higher (Hunt, 2013, p. 231). Fourth, it is important to address the media’s problem that would demonstrate the society that sex slavery is the existing danger that can become a concern for every family by shooting documentaries and programs touching the topic that can help lift the society’s tolerance towards prostitution and sex trafficking.

Conclusion

So, sex trafficking is the current configuration of slavery characterized by sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children with the historical background and vast social and economic effects. It is enforced by a steady demand for sex services and pornography; that is why the number of sex slaves is continuously increasing. What is more, it faces inadequate response from the international community that causes additional trouble in solving it.

References

Alexandre, K., Sha, C., Pollock, J., Baier, K., & Johnson, J. (2014). Cross-national coverage of human trafficking: A community structure approach. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 22(3), 160 -174.

Edwards, J., Iritani, B., & Hallfors, D. (2006). Prevalence and correlates of exchanging sex for drugs or money among adolescents in the United States. Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 82(5), 354-358.

Farley, M., Cotton, A., Lynne, J., Zumbeck, S., Spiwak, F., Reyes, M.,…Sezgin, U. (2003). Prostitution and trafficking in nine countries: An update on violence and posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Trauma Practice, 2(3/4), 33-74.

Hunt, S. (2013). Deconstructing demand: The driving force of sex trafficking. The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 19(2), 225-241.

International Labor Office. (2012). ILO global estimate of forced labor: Results and methodology. Web.

Kara, S. (2009). Sex trafficking: inside the business of modern slavery. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Kotrla, K. (2010). Domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States. Social Work, 55(2), 181-187.

Robertson, G. (2012). The injustice of sex trafficking and the efficacy of legislation. Global Tides, 6(1), 1-18.

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) of 2000, Pub. L. 106-386, 114 Stat. 1464, 42 U.S.C. § 106 (2000).