As recently as fifteen years ago, the term “human trafficking” was virtually absent from public discourse. Today, it is all the rage, and a huge amount of taxpayer money has been spent fighting it. There is no doubt that, when force or deception is involved in the recruitment or transportation of laborers (the definition of trafficking in U.S. law), trafficking is an evil that deserves robust countermeasures. But there are also many popular myths about trafficking — frequently voiced in the media and by government officials — that have distorted proper understanding of the problem and, more importantly, hampered efforts to combat it. What are the chief myths?
Trafficking is a mammoth problem
Interest groups, the media, and the U.S. government have given very high estimates of the number of persons trafficked each year into the sex industry or other labor arenas. In some instances, the numbers appear to be pulled out of thin air, as in a Washington Posteditorial (June 28, 2011) declaring that “trafficking is understood today as a global phenomenon exceeding 20 million cases each year.” Or consider a November 2005 episode of Oprah, in which it was claimed that “millions” of children are trafficked into prostitution each year. The U.S. Government’s figures are lower — 800,000 worldwide victims (down from an estimated 4 million in 2000) and 14,500-17,500 domestic victims (down from a high of 50,000 in 2000) — though the sources of these figures have never been disclosed.
There is a stark difference between the official estimates and the tiny number of victims identified and rescued each year or the number of traffickers brought to justice, both domestically and internationally. Worldwide, the State Department reported in 2010 that only 0.4% of the estimated number of victims have been officially located and assisted. No one would claim that the official estimates could possibly match the number of identified victims — given the obstacles to locating victims in illicit, underground markets — but the huge disparity between the two should at least raise doubts about the alleged scale of victimization.
Trafficking is growing worldwide
Not only is human trafficking said to be a huge social problem, but also one that it is escalating worldwide. Trafficking does appear to have increased in some parts of the world, especially with the loosening of controls in the former Soviet empire. But the generic assertion that trafficking is growing globally cannot be substantiated. A related claim, by activists and some government officials, is that human trafficking has progressed from the third largest criminal enterprise in the world, behind the drug and arms trades, to number two status, behind drugs. I have yet to see any supporting evidence for this claim. Estimates of the profits — said to bebetween $5 and $12 billion annually — are similarly dubious. We simply have no reliable data on which to extrapolate profit margins in black markets.
Conflating sex trafficking with sex work
While U.S. law distinguishes between human trafficking (use of force or deception) and smuggling (voluntary, assisted migration), the U.S. government has gradually moved in the direction of linking all commercial sex to trafficking. In 2004, the State Department created a “factsheet” called The Link Between Prostitution and Trafficking that defined prostitution as “inherently harmful” and proclaimed that it is intrinsically “brutal and damaging to people.” Some prominent activists and officials also claim that many women working in pornography and at strip clubs have been trafficked. The evidence for this is wafer thin.
Activists have fought for years to intensify sanctions against “johns,” and the U.S. Government has now embraced this campaign. The focus on clients is evident in recent anti-trafficking laws that contain provisions targeting “the demand.” The 2005 and 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Acts, for instance, allocated substantial funds for increased local law enforcement against prostitutes’ clients. The crackdown applies to all clients, not just those who may have bought sex from a trafficked person. Some officials have expressed concern about such “federalizing” of prostitution enforcement, the traditional domain of local authorities.
We are left with a set of farfetched claims about trafficking, claims that hardly lend themselves to evidence-based policy-making. The available evidence does not allow us to draw any conclusions about the magnitude of the problem. There are no reliable statistics on trafficking in any one nation, let alone worldwide. Even ballpark estimates are guesswork, given the clandestine nature of the sex trade. But precisely because the asserted numbers, trends, and proceeds cannot be verified, they can easily gain a life of their own and a veneer of credibility when repeatedly cited by the media and in government reports. And such grandiose claims certainly have shock value. They alarm the public, generate sensationalized media coverage, and are used to justify huge government expenditures to fight a problem that may have been blown way out of proportion.
And a ton of money indeed has been thrown at the problem — funding dubious “research” as well as enforcement and interventions in the form of raids. In the first four years of the Bush administration alone, $300 million was awarded to international NGOs involved in anti-trafficking work, in addition to what was spent on domestic efforts. In 2010, the U.S. Government spent $54 million funding international NGOs that run anti-trafficking programs, many of which are faith-based. Some very questionable field interventions have been funded. A report in The Nation noted that some leading NGO’s, such as the International Justice Mission, have staged interventions in Southeast Asia that make the situation worse for sex workers — subjecting them to police abuse, deportation, or “long, involuntary stays in shelters.”
Beginning with the Bush administration, anti-trafficking policy has largely been driven by interest groups on the far right and left, lobbyists whose mission is the elimination of all types of commercial sex activity. (Much less focus has been placed on other labor arenas.) The State Department’s own Inspector General expressed concern about “the credentials of the organizations and findings of the research that the [State Department’s] Trafficking Office funded,” and called for much greater oversight and accountability.
A superior approach would discontinue the fruitless practice of “estimating” the number of victims and making unverifiable claims about trends and profits, and instead target enforcement efforts to combat unfree labor in all arenas — prostitution, agriculture, industry, domestic service — rather than fighting sexual commerce in general.
Research report on sorting out the myths and facts about sex trafficking at sporting events: http://www.gaatw.org/publications/WhatstheCostofaRumour.11.15.2011.pdf
Below is a article from the Washington Post:
Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence.
U.S. Estimates Thousands of Victims, But Efforts to Find Them Fall Short
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Outrage was mounting at the 1999 hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, where congressmen were learning about human trafficking.
A woman from Nepal testified that September that she had been drugged, abducted and forced to work at a brothel in Bombay. A Christian activist recounted tales of women overseas being beaten with electrical cords and raped. A State Department official said Congress must act — 50,000 slaves were pouring into the United States every year, she said. Furious about the “tidal wave” of victims, Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) vowed to crack down on so-called modern-day slavery.
The next year, Congress passed a law, triggering a little-noticed worldwide war on human trafficking that began at the end of the Clinton administration and is now a top Bush administration priority. As part of the fight, President Bush has blanketed the nation with 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million — all to find and help the estimated hundreds of thousands of victims of forced prostitution or labor in the United States.
But the government couldn’t find them. Not in this country.
The evidence and testimony presented to Congress pointed to a problem overseas. But in the seven years since the law was passed, human trafficking has not become a major domestic issue, according to the government’s figures.
The administration has identified 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States since 2000, nowhere near the 50,000 a year the government had estimated. In addition, 148 federal cases have been brought nationwide, some by the Justice task forces, which are composed of prosecutors, agents from the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement officials in areas thought to be hubs of trafficking.
In the Washington region, there have been about 15 federal cases this decade.
Ronald Weitzer, a criminologist at George Washington University and an expert on sex trafficking, said that trafficking is a hidden crime whose victims often fear coming forward. He said that might account for some of the disparity in the numbers, but only a small amount.
“The discrepancy between the alleged number of victims per year and the number of cases they’ve been able to make is so huge that it’s got to raise major questions,” Weitzer said. “It suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion.”
Government officials define trafficking as holding someone in a workplace through force, fraud or coercion. Trafficking generally takes two forms: sex or labor. The victims in most prosecutions in the Washington area have been people forced into prostitution. The Department of Health and Human Services “certifies” trafficking victims in the United States after verifying that they were subjected to forced sex or labor. Only non-U.S. citizens brought into this country by traffickers are eligible to be certified, entitling them to receive U.S. government benefits.
Administration officials acknowledge that they have found fewer victims than anticipated. Brent Orrell, an HHS deputy assistant secretary, said that certifications are increasing and that the agency is working hard to “help identify many more victims.” He also said: “We still have a long way to go.”
But Tony Fratto, deputy White House press secretary, said that the issue is “not about the numbers. It’s really about the crime and how horrific it is.” Fratto also said the domestic response to trafficking “cannot be ripped out of the context” of the U.S. government’s effort to fight it abroad. “We have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the world, so if we have this global initiative to stop human trafficking and slavery, how can we tolerate even a minimal number within our own borders?”
He said that the president’s passion about fighting trafficking is motivated in part by his Christian faith and his outrage at the crime. “It’s a practice that he obviously finds disgusting, as most rational people would, and he wants America to be the leader in ending it,” Fratto said. “He sees it as a moral obligation.”
Although there have been several estimates over the years, the number that helped fuel the congressional response — 50,000 victims a year — was an unscientific estimate by a CIA analyst who relied mainly on clippings from foreign newspapers, according to government sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the agency’s methods. Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales told Congress last year that a much lower estimate in 2004 — 14,500 to 17,500 a year — might also have been overstated.
Yet the government spent $28.5 million in 2006 to fight human trafficking in the United States, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. The effort has attracted strong bipartisan support.
Steven Wagner, who helped HHS distribute millions of dollars in grants to community groups to find and assist victims, said “Those funds were wasted.”
“Many of the organizations that received grants didn’t really have to do anything,” said Wagner, former head of HHS’s anti-trafficking program. “They were available to help victims. There weren’t any victims.”
Still, the raw emotion of the issue internationally and domestically has spawned dozens of activist organizations that fight trafficking. They include the Polaris Project, which was founded in 2002 by two college students, and the Washington-based Break the Chain Campaign, which started in the mid-1990s focusing on exploited migrant workers before concentrating on trafficking after 2000.
Activist groups and administration officials strongly defend their efforts, saying that trafficking is a terrible crime and that even one case is too many. They said that cultural obstacles and other impediments prevent victims from coming forward.
Mark P. Lagon, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said that such problems make the numbers “naturally murky. . . . There are vigorous U.S. government efforts to find and help victims in the United States, not because there is some magic number that we have a gut instinct is out there. Any estimate we’re citing, we’ve always said, is an estimate.”
But Lagon said he is convinced that “thousands upon thousands of people are subject to gross exploitation” in the United States.
Few question that trafficking is a serious problem in many countries, and the U.S. government has spent more than half a billion dollars fighting it around the world since 2000.
Last year, anti-trafficking projects overseas included $3.4 million to help El Salvador fight child labor and $175,000 for community development training for women in remote Mekong Delta villages in Vietnam, according to the State Department. Human trafficking, in the United States and abroad, is under attack by 10 federal agencies that report to a Cabinet-level task force chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In the United States, activists say that trafficking has received far more attention than crimes such as domestic violence, of which there are hundreds of thousands of documented victims every year.
The quest to find and help victims of trafficking has become so urgent that the Bush administration hired a public relations firm, a highly unusual approach to fighting crime. Ketchum, a New York-based public relations firm, has received $9.5 million and has been awarded $2.5 million more.
“We’re giving money to Ketchum so they can train people who can train people who can train people to serve victims,” said one Washington area provider of services for trafficking victims, who receives government funding and spoke on condition of anonymity. “Trafficking victims are hidden. They’re not really going to be affected by a big, splashy PR campaign. They’re not watching Lifetime television.”
Yet the anti-trafficking crusade goes on, partly because of the issue’s uniquely nonpartisan appeal. In the past four years, more than half of all states have passed anti-trafficking laws, although local prosecutions have been rare.
“There’s huge political momentum, because this is a no-brainer issue,” said Derek Ellerman, co-founder of the Polaris Project. “No one is going to stand up and oppose fighting modern-day slavery.”
A Matter of Faith
Throughout the 1990s, evangelicals and other Christians grew increasingly concerned about international human rights, fueled by religious persecution in Sudan and other countries. They were also rediscovering a tradition of social reform dating to when Christians fought the slave trade of an earlier era.
Human trafficking has always been a problem in some cultures but increased in the early 1990s, experts say.
For conservative Christians, trafficking was “a clear-cut, uncontroversial, terrible thing going on in the world,” said Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission in Arlington, a Christian human rights group.
Feminist groups and other organizations also seized on trafficking, and a 1999 meeting at the Capitol, organized by former Nixon White House aide Charles W. Colson, helped seal a coalition. The session in the office of then-House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) brought together the Southern Baptist Convention, conservative William Bennett and Rabbi David Saperstein, a prominent Reform Jewish activist.
The session focused only on trafficking victims overseas, said Mariam Bell, national public policy director for Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries.
“It was just ghastly stuff,” Armey recalled last week, saying that he immediately agreed to support an anti-trafficking law. “I felt a sense of urgency that this must be done, and as soon as possible.”
A New Law
A law was more likely to be enacted if its advocates could quantify the issue. During a PowerPoint presentation in April 1999, the CIA provided an estimate: 45,000 to 50,000 women and children were trafficked into the United States every year.
The CIA briefing emerged from the Clinton administration’s growing interest in the problem. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had been pushing the issue, former administration officials said.
But information was scarce, so a CIA analyst was told to assess the problem in the United States and abroad. She combed through intelligence reports and law enforcement data. Her main source, however, was news clippings about trafficking cases overseas — from which she tried to extrapolate the number of U.S. victims.
The CIA estimate soon appeared in a report by a State Department analyst that was the U.S. government’s first comprehensive assessment of trafficking. State Department officials raised the alarm about victims trafficked into the United States when they appeared before Congress in 1999 and 2000, citing the CIA estimate. A Justice Department official testified that the number might have been 100,000 each year.
The congressional hearings focused mostly on trafficking overseas. At the House hearing in September 1999, Rep. Earl F. Hilliard (D-Ala.) changed the subject and zeroed in on Laura J. Lederer, a Harvard University expert on trafficking.
“How prevalent is the sex trade here in this country?” Hilliard asked.
“We have so very little information on this subject in this country. . . . so very few facts,” Lederer said.
“Excuse me, but is the sex trade prevalent here?” Hilliard asked.
Nobody knows, Lederer said.
Bipartisan passion melted any uncertainty, and in October 2000, Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, significantly broadening the federal definition of trafficking. Prosecutors would no longer have to rely on statutes that required them to prove a victim had been subjected to physical violence or restraints, such as chains. Now, a federal case could be made if a trafficker had psychologically abused a victim.
The measure toughened penalties against traffickers, provided extensive services for victims and committed the United States to a leading role internationally, requiring the State Department to rank countries and impose sanctions if their anti-trafficking efforts fell short.
The law’s fifth sentence says: “Congress finds that . . . approximately 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year.”
Just as the law took effect, along came a new president to enforce it.
Bell, with Prison Fellowship Ministries, noted that when Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 2003, he focused on the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism and the war on trafficking.
Soon after Bush took office, a network of anti-trafficking nonprofit agencies arose, spurred in part by an infusion of federal dollars.
HHS officials were determined to raise public awareness and encourage victims to come forward. For help, they turned to Ketchum in 2003.
Legal experts said they hadn’t heard of hiring a public relations firm to fight a crime problem. Wagner, who took over HHS’s anti-trafficking program in 2003, said that the strategy was “extremely unusual” but that creative measures were needed.
“The victims of this crime won’t come forward. Law enforcement doesn’t handle that very well, when they have to go out and find a crime,” he said.
Ketchum, whose Washington lobbying arm is chaired by former U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), formed coalitions of community groups in two states and 19 cities, to search for and aid victims. The coalition effort was overseen by a subcontractor, Washington-based Capital City Partners, whose executives during the period of oversight have included the former heads of the Fund for a Conservative Majority and the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, in addition to the former editorial page editor of the conservative Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader newspaper.
Trying to Get the Number Right
Three years ago, the government downsized its estimate of trafficking victims, but even those numbers have not been borne out.
The effort to acquire a more precise number had begun at the Library of Congress and Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, where graduate students on a CIA contract stayed up nights, using the Internet to find clippings from foreign newspapers.
Once again, the agency was using mainly news clips from foreign media to estimate the numbers of trafficking victims, along with reports from government agencies and anti-trafficking groups. The students at Mercyhurst, a school known for its intelligence studies program, were enlisted to help.
But their work was thought to be inconsistent, said officials at the Government Accountability Office, which criticized the government’s trafficking numbers in a report last year.
A part-time researcher at the Library of Congress took over the project. “The numbers were totally unreliable,” said David Osborne, head of research for the library’s federal research division. “If it was reported that 15 women were trafficked from Romania into France, French media might pick it up and say 32 women and someone else would say 45.”
A CIA analyst ran the research through a computer simulation program, said government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing the CIA’s methods. It spat out estimates of destination countries for trafficking victims worldwide. The new number of victims trafficked into the United States: 14,500 to 17,500 each year.
The simulation is considered a valid way to measure probability if the underlying data are reliable. “It seems incredibly unlikely that this was a robust, sound analysis,” said David Banks, a statistics professor at Duke University.
The CIA’s new estimate, which first appeared in a 2004 State Department report, has been widely quoted, including by a senior Justice Department official at a media briefing this year. It’s also posted on the HHS Web site.
The Justice Department’s human trafficking task force in Washington has mounted an aggressive effort to find victims.
But at a meeting of the task force this year, then-coordinator Sharon Marcus-Kurn said that detectives had spent “umpteen hours of overtime” repeatedly interviewing women found in Korean- and Hispanic-owned brothels. “It’s very difficult to find any underlying trafficking that is there,” Marcus-Kurn told the group.
People trafficked into the United States have traditionally been the focus of the crackdown. In recent years, there has been increasing debate about whether the victim estimates should include U.S. citizens. For example, adult U.S. citizens forced into prostitution are also trafficking victims under federal law, but some say that such cases should be left to local police.
D.C.: A Trafficking Hub?
In a classroom at the D.C. police academy in January, President Bush appears on a screen at a mandatory training session in how to investigate and identify trafficking. The 55 officers who attended watch a slide show featuring testimonials from government officials and a clip from Bush’s 2003 speech to the United Nations.
Sally Stoecker, lead researcher for Shared Hope International in Arlington, which aims to increase awareness of sex trafficking, takes the microphone. “It’s a huge crime, and it’s continuing to grow,” Stoecker says, citing the government’s most recent estimate of victims.
The D.C. officers are among thousands of law enforcement officials nationwide who have been trained in how to spot trafficking. In Montgomery County, police have investigated numerous brothels since the force was trained in 2005 and last year. Officers have found a few trafficking victims, but there have been no prosecutions.
The Justice Department runs law enforcement task forces across the country. It’s a top priority for the department’s Civil Rights Division.
Justice officials have said there has been a 600 percent increase in U.S. cases. But the department said in a report last September: “In absolute numbers, it is true that the prosecution figures pale in comparison to the estimated scope of the problem.”
The 148 cases filed this decade by the Civil Rights Division and U.S. attorney’s offices might not include what Justice officials call a limited number of child trafficking prosecutions by the Criminal Division, Justice officials said Friday. They could not provide a number.
Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard E. Trodden, who studied trafficking for the Virginia Crime Commission, said he doesn’t know of any local prosecutions in Northern Virginia.
Nearly seven years after it began, the anti-trafficking campaign rolls on.
“This is important for me personally,” Gonzales said in January as he announced the creation of a Justice Department unit to focus on trafficking cases. Encouraged by Gonzales, who sent letters to all 50 governors, states continued to pass anti-trafficking laws.
Maryland enacted a law in May that toughens penalties.
Virginia has not taken legislative action; some legislators have said that a law isn’t needed.
HHS is still paying people to find victims. Last fall, the agency announced $3.4 million in new “street outreach” awards to 22 groups nationwide.
Nearly $125,000 went to Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit agency in Dallas. For the past year, its employees have put out the word to hospitals, police stations, domestic violence shelters — any organization that might come into contact with a victim.
“They’re doing about a thousand different things,” said Bill Bernstein, Mosaic’s deputy director.
Three victims were found.The following is from: Ann Jordan Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law Click on this link for the full article:
The following information is from a report from the Crimes against children research center which talks about the Unknown Exaggerated Statistics of Juvenile Prostitution.
Crimes against Children Research Center ● University of New Hampshire ● 126 Horton Social Science Center ● Durham, NH 03824 (603) 862‐1888●Fax: (603) 862‐1122●www.unh.edu/ccrc
How Many Juveniles are Involved in Prostitution in the U.S.?
There have been many attempts to estimate the number of juvenile prostitutes within the United States. These estimates range from 1,400 to 2.4 million, although most fall between 300,000 and 600,000. BUT PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS. READ ON. A close look at these diverse estimates reveals that none are based on a strong scientific foundation. They are mostly educated guesses or extrapolations based on questionable assumptions. They do not have the substance of typically reported crime statistics, like the number of robberies or the number of child sexual abuse victims. The reality is that we do not currently know how many juveniles are involved in prostitution. Scientifically credible estimates do not exist.
The most often cited estimates on juvenile prostitution will be described here and their source, along with the major problems with their validity. Estes and WeinerPerhaps the most commonly used estimate of juvenile prostitution comes from Estes and Weiner (2001). These authors concluded in a large, publicized report that about 326,000 children were “at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.” However, there are several problems with treating this number as an estimate of juvenile prostitution. First, although this is often cited as an estimate of juvenile prostitutes, even the authors call it something muchmore nebulous: youth “at risk” of commercial sexual exploitation. “At risk” means it is compilation of youth in various categories (14 in total) – like runaway kids, female gangmembers – who could become or be involved in commercial sexual exploitation. But the authors had no evidence of how many or what proportion of these youth actually were involved. Secondly, the numbers that form the basis of their various “at risk” categories are themselves highly speculative. One large portion of the estimate is simply a crude guess that 35% of a national estimate of runaway youth out of their home a week or longer were “at risk”. Another large portion was a guess that one quarter of 1% of the general population of youth 10‐17 were “at risk”. Together these two groups constitute nearly 200,000 of the at risk youth. But it is essentially a guesstimate and not a scientific estimate.
A third problem is that no one has any idea how much duplication there is among the 14 at risk groups. Some of the runaways are also gang members and living in public housing, etc. so one cannot simply add together estimates from these various sources. A scientific estimate would have to “unduplicate” the numbers from the various categories. In sum, no one should cite the 326,000 number from Estes and Weiner as a scientifically based estimate of the number of juvenile prostitutes. AddHealth Survey Another estimate with some research credibility is from a recent study by Edwards, Iritani, and Hallfors (2005), which found that 3.5% of an AddHealth sample endorsed an item asking if they had “ever exchanged sex for drugs or money.” The nationally representative sample was comprised of 13,294 youth in grades 8‐12 during the year 1996 who completed an in‐school questionnaire. The majority (67.9%) of those saying they had participated in a sex exchange were males.
A first caveat about this estimate is that it is not clear that what the respondents were endorsing really constituted prostitution. For example, could a juvenile who had paid a prostitute for sex consider that to have been an “exchange of sex for money” and thus said yes to the question? Could a sexual encounter that involved sharing drugs with a partner as part of consensual sex have prompted someone to say yes to the question, even though the drugs were not necessarily a sine qua non of the sexual encounter? The similarity between prostitution and exchanging sex for goods needs to be clarified if this estimate is to be accepted as an estimate of juvenile prostitution. In addition, the fact that the majority of those endorsing the question were boys raises an important validity question about this estimate. Virtually no analyst of the problem thinks that there are truly so many more boys than girls engaged in juvenile prostitution; because the survey found more boys engaging in prostitution, there may be some misunderstanding of the
question at work. It may be possible to obtain an incidence estimate for juvenile prostitution through a general population survey, but the questions and details will have to be more specific to confirm that what is being counted is truly prostitution or sexual exploitation. General Accounting Office Report In 1982, the General Accounting Office attempted to determine the basis of existing juvenile prostitution estimates. The General Accounting Office (1982) found that the “general perception” estimates ranged from “tens of thousands to 2.4 million.” One set of estimates from 1982 seemed to trace back to the “gut hunches” of Robin Lloyd, the author of the 1976 book, “For Love or Money: Boy Prostitution in America,” who used a working figure of 300,000 male juvenile prostitutes. The President of the Odyssey Institute adopted this figure, then doubled it to cover female juvenile prostitutes, increasing the estimate to 600,000. Because the Odyssey Institute president believed that only half of juvenile prostitutes were known, the 600,000 figure was doubled; the estimate was doubled once more to 2.4 million because the president believed that the estimate did not include 16 and 17 year old prostitutes. These were
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Sex Trafficking Victims
Trafficking in human beings is not a new phenomenon, especially that of girls and women. Historically, sex trafficking has taken many forms, however, in the context of globalization it has taken in a new and acquired shocking dimension (Moore, 2015). The sex trafficking is a complex, and multi-faceted phenomenon that involves multiple stakeholders at the commercial as well as institutional level. The market has changed into a demand-driven global business, which has a huge market for commercial sex as well as cheap labor that is confronted with insufficient and unexercised policy frameworks which has trained personnel in order to prevent it (Goodey, 2003).
A sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, an evil perpetrated against humanity particularly women. In most developing nations, due to the level of poverty, sex trafficking has become other means to an end for some people (Lucchi, 2009). Traffickers are making millions of dollars by exploiting vulnerable young girls and desperate women. The sex trafficking phenomenon is mostly parallel around the world; young women and innocent girls are the victims while men are usually the perpetrators (Moore, 2015).
The boom in the sex industry over the years has paved ways for organized crime networks, which are established for the sole purpose of recruiting women and young girls. In most developing nations, poverty, political corruption and governmental insensitive to the needs of the people has pushed many to seek greener pasture, through which most women and young girls are coerced into sex trafficking.
The modern day slavery can be said to thrive because of the profitability that comes with the trafficking industry. The UN in its report estimated that modern day slavery generates around 8-10 billion dollars annually. It is imperative to note that this is the third largest profits behind arms and the dealing of narcotics. Further, the moving of human cargo across borders is often easier as compared to drugs and arms which when found are seized.
Human beings are often reused and consequently can be re-trafficked; this is not the same case with drugs. To further worsen the situation, trafficking can be described as dangerous and secret (Lucchi, 2009). The victims for retaliation and even recrimination in different families and villages are afraid to bear witness against known traffickers. This is because these persons are often big people in the society that are capable of swift and ruthless retaliation.
It is of an essence to understand that the art of trafficking, as well as the attendant human rights violations in many cases, have very serious consequences on the side of the victim. The women that are often trafficked suffer from serious mental as well as physical health problems. The trafficking victims often suffer from extreme physical abuse as well as physical exhaustion. There are even times that the victims suffer from starvation (Moore, 2015).
The typical injuries that are experienced by those persons that are trafficked include broken bones, bruising and burns, concussions, as well as other injuries that can be said to be consistent with the assault. It is of importance to understand that some of these injuries often lead to adverse health problems, and they might require long-term treatment (Lucchi, 2009).
The persons that have been trafficked are often subjected to multiple cases of abuse over a long period and consequently they suffer from different and diverse health consequences that have been seen to be similar to those that are experienced by victims of prolonged torture.
The sexual exploitation is a traumatic event where there are emotional and physical effects on the victim. After experiencing the sexual exploitation women and girls often suffer a range wide of different physical and mental reactions. The most common include severe depression and stress. The women also have physical deformities as a result of the prolonged sexual exploitation (Moore, 2015).
They are highly vulnerable to sexual as well as reproductive health complications; these includes sexually transmitted diseases as well as other gynecological diseases. In many cases, the women that are trafficked into the sex trade are not allowed to use condoms or even other methods of birth control. Further, they also do not undergo gynecological examinations. These women, therefore, face the risk of unwanted pregnancies as well as the threat of miscarriages (Lucchi, 2009). This, therefore, shows the reason as to why many women that have been trafficked for the reason of sexual trafficking experience high rates of abortion, infertility as well as sterilization.
Therefore, this type of both physical and sexual abuse often leads to severe mental as well as emotional health consequences; this includes the feelings of guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression, eating disorders as well as anxiety. In some cases that are extreme, the mental anguish that the sexual exploitation victims feel leads to self-mutilation or even at times suicide (Moore, 2015). Therefore, for this reason, it is imperative that the victims of trafficking when they are recovered, be given proper physical as well as psychological care as part of their standard medical treatment.
The scourge of HIV/AIDS is rampant with women that have been sexually exploited; it is of essence to understand that around 70% of the women that are trafficked for the purpose of sex are HIV positive (Lucchi, 2009). This, therefore, shows that the HIV menace is the biggest health impediment when it comes to the solving of health issues with different victims. It is important for service providers as well as law enforcement officials to understand the phenomenon regarding human trafficking for sexual exploitation (Moore, 2015). In many cases, it might not be immediately apparent that those women and children require a different kind of support and assistance; however, with time the health care professionals should understand that the needs of the trafficking victims are diverse.
How the topic fits into Psychology
The trauma that is often associated with sex trafficking and its psychological effects can be devastating, and if it is left unaddressed, it can be able to undermine victim’s recovery and it can potentially contribute to the re-victimization. Traffickers are often known to dehumanize as well as objectify their victims (Lucchi, 2009). In fact, in most instances, the victim’s innate sense of power, visibility as well as dignity often becomes obscured.
The traffickers are often known to use coercive tactics as well as the force to make the victims feel that they are worthless and feel that indeed they are emotionally imprisoned (Moore, 2015). As a result, in most instances the victims often lose their sense of security and identity. There are various psychological symptoms that often surface after a period even after the victims have been able to escape and are rescued from the trafficking environment. Therefore, it is critical to understand that indeed psychological support is needed for the victims, and this is where psychology is important in this field (Moore, 2015).
Most of the victims often suffer from Post-Traumatic stress disorder. The post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the mental health illnesses. For one to have the disorder, they must have gone through the traumatic event that are usually painful. The advantage of the post-traumatic disorder is that it's caused is known as compared to other mental illnesses. This way a therapist knows what they are dealing with when attending to their patients.
Most of the people affected by post-traumatic stress disorder are war veterans. This is because during the war they come across traumatizing experiences that are hard to erase. Most of the victims end up taking excess alcohol or get depressed (Thio, 12). Some of the victims end up isolating from the rest and avoid situations that will lead to them remembering what happened during the war. This is the same case with sex-trafficking victims, most of them suffer from PTSD.
Casualties of post-traumatic stress disorder find it hard to find the best solution for their condition. The problem that they face is because the condition is entirely mental. By being mental, it affects most aspects of the victim including the physical part. The post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition that causes the victim to experience hyperarousal, avoidance and emotional numbing. These characteristics result from traumatic events that victims go through in a part of their lives (Nash, 2013). The study of PTSD involves observation of symptoms. This leads to many psychologists to believe that the condition arises as a result of the body reacting to normal stress. They believe that this is the normal way of the body of reacting to stressful conditions (Nash, 2013).
There are several theories that suggest that symptoms of PTSD vary from one victim to another. This variation depends on the ability of the body to withstand and cope with a certain traumatic event. Some victims can recover from the condition after a very short time. Others seem to maintain the condition for a long time with some cases lasting for the rest of the victim’s life (Nash, 2013). This condition occurs as a result of breaking the basic assumption of an individual about his invulnerability and the overall safety in the environment surrounding him. Exposure to these conditions causes the brain to break down and become weak.
The brain of a person in normal circumstances can integrate the trauma in his memory. However, PTSD causes the individual’s brain to form faulty beliefs about why some situations took place. The individual’s brain interprets the activities with guilt and self-blame. This causes the individual to get problems in trusting himself. Loss of self-esteem, control and intimacy causes the person to have problems integrating trauma in his memory (Nash, 2013).
The post-traumatic stress disorder is the only disorder that is caused by anxiety and has its cause known. This uniqueness helps in its treatment since the therapist and counselors tackle the issue directly (Nash, 2013). In post-traumatic stress disorder, anything that makes one feel like it’s a traumatic experience may result to the disorder. Some of the events that are likely to cause the disorder include violent acts, life-threatening disease, surviving car crash, natural catastrophe, war, and sexual assault (Kara, 2009).
Gaps in Current research
There are several gaps that exist in the literature regarding sex trafficking. Sex Trafficking has a socio-economic and political basis that is complex and is linked to the global larger processes. Therefore, it is not simply a matter of morals or social waywardness. Therefore, it is imperative to understand that this problem cannot be treated with a casual approach but should be treated as a developmental concern that requires a balanced, layered and integral approach built on a solid strategic framework intended to end the scourge. However, this scourge has not been well understood, and its socio-economic basis has yet to be well researched.
Religion plays a significant role in the lives of its citizens. The actions and attitude of the people are largely shaped by religion. A religious leader and clergymen are held in high regard in most parts of the world. As a result, religion is one of the known methods employed by traffickers to control their victims. Black magic is used in this process and the victim’s body parts such as, pubic hair, menstrual flows, pictures and many more are collected and sent to Juju (Voodoo) priests to ensure the loyalty and obedience of the victims to their trafficker.
The voodoo priests are sometimes unaware of the traffickers’ objectives and are deceived into performing acts that coerce the victims (Kara, 2009). The government needs to incorporate religious organizations and religious leaders to aid in the fight against sex trafficking. If this is not done the war against sexual trafficking will not be won. However, there has been little research that has been done in regards to religion and its role especially in Western Africa where black magic is well propagated (Kara, 2009).
How research can help address the problem
There is the need for different governments to create a reintegration program that seeks to serve the needs of the internally trafficked or the repatriated children. There is a need for the governments to create a program where those that have been trafficked are first addressed medically and financially before they are repatriated to their homes. Many children that have been often trafficked lose touch with their homes, and some of them do not even have homes as they are born in the streets (Crawford, 2008). The persons lack the necessary social services and because there are no programs that exist they do not receive the required assistance that is a need to help the children recover from the abuses that they have suffered.
Research has shown that because of a lack of a repartition program, the deported trafficked persons are often at a higher risk of being re-trafficked and this time severely traumatized (Kara, 2009). Therefore, the different government should create a reintegration program that will attempt to facilitate the reintegration of trafficked persons as well as their relatives through education, skill acquisition and income generating activities. The presence of this program will reduce the occurrence of re-trafficking and will also set the benchmark for the persons that were trafficked not to plunge into poverty.
Governments need to increase the strength of its law enforcement to combat trafficking. Similarly, law enforcement must be adequately trained in issues about sex trafficking. The government should sign agreements with destination and transit countries to decrease the number of women and children being trafficked (Crawford, 2008). The co-operation of the different countries will ensure that indeed there is no person that is trafficked outside and taken into another country forcibly or unknowingly (Kara, 2009).
Trafficking Awareness training course should be implemented in the law enforcement standard curriculum as well as the protection of victims which is the most important of any Memorandum should be integrated. There should also be legislation that is intended to suppress as well as prevent human trafficking. There should be direct legislation regarding sexual exploitation, and a stiff penalty should be put in for the offenders (Crawford, 2008).
Victims, as well as the general public, need to be well educated on sex trafficking. Lack of education is an important reason individuals fall victim to traffickers in the first place. The definition for sex trafficking is somewhat constricted, thus why awareness needs to be raised for the general populations. If victims were well informed about this evil act, they wouldn’t have fallen victims to their traffickers. Similarly, education and empowerment of victims are also paramount; these will offer them a chance to be self-sufficient and increase their effectiveness in educating the public. The culture, particularly the mass media, plays a large role in normalizing prostitution by portraying it as a glamorous, fast and easy way of making money. The government needs to employ the mass media in the combat against sex trafficking, by exposing the evils behind the practice.
This paper will employ the descriptive research method to better understand the psychological impact of sex trafficking victims. There will be the use of 200 sex trafficking victims and their psychological well-being after the trafficking will be assessed. From victim stories and their discussions about how they felt during the ordeal, an evaluation of their mental health can be easily accessed and determined. This study will use secondary research as the main form of getting data. The secondary data will be gotten from Stories of sex trafficking victims that have been published in reputed journals. This will ensure that there is sufficient data to conduct a carefully planned analysis. The study will involve the getting of data from different sources that are accredited as well as peer-reviewed articles that relate to sex trafficking victims.
Data collection from the stories will be analyzed using expressive tables and tools. This will provide a more graphical depiction for data analysis. Bar graphs, pie charts, and tables can be used for pictorial representation.
This is the best method for this research as it gives the different perspectives and works on the limited budget of the researcher.
In this study, descriptive research methods are used. This type of research is a significant one since it involves comprehensive analysis and description of the elements in a survey. It is especially critical in this study since it is used in the description of a population’s characteristics. This type of research mainly deals with the ‘what’ question rather than the how, when or why. This makes this type different from causal research.
Causal research refers an investigative study that seeks to determine the effect of a given thing or behavior on another thing. This is clearly different from descriptive research that examines the characteristics of a given situation or population. Descriptive research is the most current form of research, Thyer (2010). It covers more information compared with the other types of research. This research uses this approach since the subject being analyzed requires qualitative checking of behavior that is not automatic. It is also used since it will provide a more detailed analysis of the subject matter as compared to other approaches.
Some of the research questions that will be explored include
1. What are some of the psychological disorders that the victims of sex trafficking possess?
2. What programs can the government have to ensure that sex trafficking is reduced?
3. What is the role of poverty, religion and inadequate governments in sex trafficking?
This research is a quantitative one. This is because the findings of the research are subjected to various empirical, mathematical or statistical, computational techniques.
The first principle that was considered was that of self-determination which meant that the participants had the right to decide voluntarily if they wanted to participate in the experiment (Crawford, 2008). This was done through e-mail to the publishers of their stories, and formal permission was asked to assess the victim’s psychological conditions based on their stories. Further, the researchers had to obtain informed consent before the conducting of research.
The participants (through the different publishers) that took part in this study were informed about the nature of the study and what the finding of the study will be done with. There was also the issue of asking for an institutional review board for permission to conduct the experiment. This is because the study deals with human subjects and consequently, there is a need to obtain consent from the review board.
There is also a need to understand the impact of human sex trafficking on multiple generations. There are many questions that remain unanswered in the investigation of this topic. Therefore, there is a need to understand the trauma that the second generation faces and the impact that it has on their development (Bernat, 2011).
There is a need for research into the issue of which training methods are best when it comes to combating this menace that is sex trafficking. It is essential for the governments involved engaging in an education mechanism with the authorities implementing and responsible for safeguarding human rights. Training of the police and other law enforcement officials is vital when handling the human trafficking menace. Government authorities’ personnel should undergo training aiming at identifying and as well tracking down the traffickers involved in the overall process. Additionally, government agencies and departments dealing with sex trafficking should be federally mandated.
Often, the federal mandate of this personnel and agencies is through financial support and aiding them with the necessary support during the fight against sex trafficking. Despite the implemented policies, victim smuggling in the border is still rising. Conversely, the government should support the authorities involved in dealing with sex trafficking crimes aiming at easing perpetrator identification and arresting (Bernat, 2011). Educating these departments’ personnel on how sex traffickers cross the borders is vital in ensuring that they have the capability of dealing with the social issue. There is, therefore, a need for further research to show exactly what the government needs to do and the loopholes that currently exist in the current system that can be effectively eradicated.
Future research can be able to look at several issues and address several real-world problems. Poverty can be said to be a major cause of human trafficking and consequently the measures of addressing poverty are crucial. There is a need for the different governments where trafficking is an issue to create different programs that are aimed at alleviating poverty in the country (Bernat, 2011). The eradication of poverty will see the market of human trafficking decline, this is because many people especially women and children are often duped into human trafficking for sexual exploitation because of looking for greener pastures as well as better opportunities in life (Bernat, 2011).
There is a need to involve women when it comes to planning, implementation as well as monitoring the various governmental programs that address the poverty. The lack of representation of women in these important processes means that the programs fail to take into account the needs of women. Therefore, the different governments should make sure that there is a woman in each of the required sectors in a bid to ensure that women are equally represented economically in the country.
Another solution is to create awareness in regards to sexual trafficking in the country; the lack of awareness directly leads to the escalation of human trafficking. More research into trafficking for sexual exploits should be studied; it is of importance to understand that until recently, there was no tangible research on trafficking persons and the victim’s experience (Richards, 2014). The media reports were the ones that were used in the estimation of trafficking, and many of the reports that were published are by governments that hugely underestimated the issues. Further, the overall lack of adequate gender specific data and prevalence of trafficking of persons made it difficult to monitor as well as understand the evolution of the phenomenon in a bid to design strategies that are supposed to combat it.
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