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Much of the conversation [around human trafficking]

has been superficial, incomplete and distorted - leading

to a tragically inadequate response.

Alison Brysk



When most people think of sex trafficking, they imagine girls being kidnapped, held against their will, and sold for sex. Oftentimes people think everyone in the commercial sex industry is a victim of sex trafficking.


The reality is, it's just not that simple.

Because of this, we focus on EXPLOITATION rather than

only trafficking or the commercial sex industry. 

Uganda trafficking survivor


 Exploitation Is :

any actual or attempted sexual abuse for the purpose of the perpetrator's profit financially, socially, or politically.


Anyone can fall victim to exploitation- regardless of gender, race, religion, economic status, nationality, or education. Still, the below factors can make someone particularly vulnerable: 

political vulnerability trafficking and exploitation


Political instability

War or civil unrest


Illegal status

social vulnerability trafficking and exploitation


Gender inequality


Oppressive religious beliefs

Lack of social support

economic vulnerability trafficking and exploitation



Lack of opportunity


Allure of opportunity 

other vulnerability trafficking and exploitation


Previous trauma

Previous abuse

Mental or physical disability

Substance abuse

There are  40 MILLION  victims of human trafficking today:

15 MILLION  victims of forced marriage, and

5 MILLION  victims of forced sexual labor.

While human trafficking is absolutely one of the greatest calamities of our time, what about survivors of exploitation who may not be categorized as "trafficking victims"?

What we've seen to be true is that

peoples' experience of exploitation, abuse, powerlessness, and restriction ranges along a continuum.


An 18 year old foster teen meets an older woman who quickly  becomes her friend. The 18 year old needs money and has trouble finding a good job so the older woman begins introducing her to customers who will pay for sex. She is frequently abused by customers but continues doing the job to make money and keep up with her new friends.

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A woman is in a manipulative marriage where her husband frequently drinks & gambles all of their money away. Through manipulation, he convinces her that if she loves him she’ll sleep with some of his friends to bring in more money for their family. Though she doesn’t really want to, she loves him & agrees in order to finance his addiction.

A 35 year old woman can't find a job and migrates to a new country to work as a maid and send her children to school. When she arrives, her employer takes her passport and tells her she owes $5000 and must do prostitution to pay back that fraudulent debt. When she refuses, the employer assaults and threatens her until she concedes.

Having grown up in a poor and very religious family, a 16 year old girl is told it's time for her to marry. Her family finds her a nice, rich husband in a different country, collects a bride price, and signs marriage papers. When she arrives, he is twice as old as she thought and frequently  abuses her. But she doesn't speak the language and she doesn't know how to leave.

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A single mom of two kids has no job options and struggles to put food on the table. One of her friends introduces her to a pimp who tells her how much money she can make overseas in prostitution. Reluctantly, she agrees to go. Though she knew the job would be prostitution, she didn't know how abusive her customers and boss would be. She feels trapped.

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A 23 year old undocumented migrant works at a massage parlor. After a few weeks, her boss tells her she must offer sexual services to customers. She's uncomfortable, but her boss tells her he'll report her to authorities and she'll be deported if she leaves. She's afraid of the police, so she stays quiet and continues in this work. 

Some of these individuals would be clearly labeled as victims of human trafficking.


Regardless, we believe all of them deserve more.

Complex problems require

complex solutions, and

everybody has a role to play. 


We know that shifting the focus from trafficking to exploitation may seem superfluous or unnecessary. But we believe semantics matter, and we're

committed to honesty and honoring the nuance in every story. 


Here are some of our favorite resources

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