Much of the conversation [around human trafficking]
has been superficial, incomplete and distorted - leading
to a tragically inadequate response.
HERE'S HOW WE
REFRAME THE ISSUE.
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.
Exploitation Is :
any actual or attempted sexual abuse for the purpose of the perpetrator's profit financially, socially, or politically.
WHAT MAKES PEOPLE VULNERABLE TO EXPLOITATION?
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:
War or civil unrest
Oppressive religious beliefs
Lack of social support
Lack of opportunity
Allure of opportunity
Mental or physical disability
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.
SCROLL BELOW FOR EXAMPLE STORIES:
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.
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.
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.
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.