Sex trafficking ('seks 'traf-fik-ing\ noun): Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person included to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years (

History of Sex Trafficking

     Sex trafficking has been an issue for centuries. However, according to Gozdziak and Collett (2005), sex trafficking has only been documented as a national issue since the nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, sex trafficking was referred to as the “White Slave Trade” in which they would abduct white women and force them into prostitution. After being brought to the world’s attention, nations all over the world wrote the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Trade and banned the trafficking of women into other countries, and later it included trafficking within national borders. However, these measures did not outlaw prostitution. In 1933, The International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women was written and prohibited the trafficking of women for means of prostitution into another country. Sex trafficking was also very popular in times of war. Women and children who were taken captive were sexually exploited by the soldiers, and they were also used as objects to be bought and sold.

     Gozdziak and Collett (2005) said sex trafficking did not become a major issue in the United States until recently. In the 1980’s - 1990’s when the AIDS epidemic widened, the feminist movement grew larger, and child prostitution was brought the government’s attention, President Clinton enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The TVPA works to prevent human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and prepares and annual Trafficking Persons Report (TPR). When President Bush was elected into office, he spent an average of $100 million per year on anti-trafficking organizations and created the President’s Interagency Task Force (PIFT) to monitor and combat trafficking (Hepburn & Simon 2010).  When President Obama was elected into office, human/sex trafficking was a priority on his list, but funding for these organizations fell by the wayside after the economy began to crumble. However, there have been many organizations that have contributed to bringing awareness to this issue.

Who Does Sex Trafficking Affect and Why Does It Matter?
     Sex trafficking typically affects women and children (98% of all sex trafficking). Sex trafficking matters because it is the modern day form of slavery and it dehumanizes women by sexually exploiting them. Women and children are forced into performing sexual services in order to pay back their “debt” to their traffickers. They are dehumanized and have abusive relationships with every person they encounter. Women and children are objectified, sold, raped, physically abused, and forced into drug addiction by their traffickers. Women and children are often looked at as the criminal (not the victim) because the general population has a common belief that these women and children have done this to themselves. This is a problem that needs to be addressed by every nation so that women and children that are subject to sex trafficking can gain control of their own lives, be treated fairly, and moved out of harms way.

Our Research
Our group decided to focus on six main topics that the research presented:

How Sex Trafficking is Gendered

     There are many ways in which sex trafficking is gendered. It is assumed that only men are sexual consumers and the desire to use women for sex is expected of men. Statistically, women are grossly more trafficked than men. Men are usually the perpetrators who both sell and buy trafficked women. Women are easier to be intimidated physically by men. Women are routinely objectified, beaten, and raped during sexual exploitation; these methods are used to control them. Women are objectified when their bodies are reduced to an item to be bought. Young girls are trafficked because of their purity and innocence, which our culture values only of females. In most places, there is political targeting of women, making them the recipients of punishment rather than men; however, in the definition, Swedish law identifies women as the victims of sexual exploitation. It is understood that female poverty is a large factor in women’s vulnerability; it is much easier to take advantage of poor, disadvantaged women. Women in poorer countries are sometimes so desperate for opportunities abroad, such as jobs or marriage proposals, that they are easily deceived into trusting men who are interested in exploiting them.

 What You Can Do

Here a few ways you can help stop sex trafficking:

  • Learn more - it is always helpful to stay involved in what's going on in your community as well as the world. Learning more about sex trafficking will be beneficial for your own wealth of knowledge as well.
  • Educate others - keeping yourself informed also gives you the privilege to share your knowledge with others and bring awareness to the community.
  • Join or volunteer at any clubs or organizations in the fight against ending sex trafficking.
  • Advocate for stronger laws and for stronger enforcement of laws.
  • Report any incidences you think may be related to sex trafficking - who knows, you could be saving someone's life!
  • Donate - giving your money to organizations helps raise awareness.
  • Produce your own awareness campaign, video, or organization to help inform others.
  • If you are religious, pray!

This site was created by: Kourtney Ikeler, Jessica Syversen, Victoria Taylor, Michael Albert, and Paige Radcliff

10 Things Everyone Should Know

1. Sex trafficking is becoming so prevalent it is likely to become the number one international crime within the next ten years.

2. In the case of sexual exploitation, women and girls make up 98% and men and boys make up 2%. Around half of trafficking victims in the world are under the age of 18.

3. No region of the world is unaffected by sex trafficking. However, sex traffickers usually sell the victims to buyers from developed countries.

4. The homicide rate among active female prostitutes is 17 times higher than that of the general population.

5. The average cost of a slave around the world is $90.

6. Sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business that brings in approximately $19 billion dollars a year.

7. There is only one shelter in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of trafficking victims. There is a total of seven to nine victims currently living there.

8. Every 30 seconds, another woman or child becomes a victim of sex trafficking.

9. 73% of U.S. women prostitutes reported that men would pay more for sex without a condom.

10. There are more human slaves today than there ever has been in history.


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Gozdziak, E.M. & Collett E.A. (2005). Research on human trafficking in North America: A review of the literature. International Migration, 43:99–128. doi: 10.1111/j.0020-7985.2005.00314.x

Hepburn, S. & Simon, R.J. (2010). Hidden in plain sight: Human trafficking in the United States. Gender Issues, 27:1-26. doi:10.1007/s12147-010-9087-7

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Raymond, J.G. & Hughes D.M. (2001). Sex trafficking of women in the United States; International and domestic trends. Amhurst, MA:University of Massachusetts Press.

Raymond, J., Hughes, D., & Gomez, C. (2001). Sex trafficking of women in the United States:Links between international and domestic sex industries. North Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

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Schauer, E.J. & Wheaton, E.M. (2006). Sex trafficking in the United States: A literature review. Criminal Justice Review, 31:146-169. doi:10.1177/0734016806290136

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