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Wynter Erickson

Professor Bown

English 2010

February 25, 2017

Youth and Sex Trafficking

For nearly as long as man has existed, we have taken advantage of one another in terrible

barbaric ways. We have enslaved one another and have forced each other to do things that no

person should ever have to do and made them endure pain that no living thing should ever have

to endure. We have destroyed entire peoples and races by sheer pride and hatred and have single

handedly introduced and sustained pain, heartbreak and death to the world. Even though times

have changed a great deal since our earliest years of open slavery and barbaric treatment, just as

terrible or possibly even worse things are still being done to millions of people in far more subtle

ways. Among the worst of these things is known as sex trafficking. It is being practiced

everywhere. In every country, in every city and is being done to every gender and age, but has

focused strongly on the youth of the world. These youth find themselves in the midst of sex

trafficking through force or through sheer need. They are being treated with violence and

brutality and many do not survive the treatment they have been or are being exposed to. Because

this atrocious system brings in more money than one would think, traffickers are more

determined to keep their system up and running and it is becoming nearly impossible to demolish

it and save the countless lives it is destroying. Although there have been many attempts to bring a

stop to sex trafficking, it has had little or no effect on the terrible system and it continues to

worsen as population grows as well as the confidence, boldness and subtly of the traders and

enforcers of this inhumane system.

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Humane trafficking alone is a major violation of human rights. Sex trafficking is as

terrible as it gets. What is sex trafficking? Also known as sex slavery, it is when people are taken

either by force, or even voluntarily into prostitution, pornography, escort services, working in

brothels and/or stripping. Age is one of the primary factors when it comes to who is targeted and

involved in sex trafficking because they are younger, riper, and far easier to persuade

physiologically and physically. Domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), or child sex

trafficking, explicitly refers to a situation in which the individual engaging in a commercial sex

act is younger than 18 years of age (Pardee 1). In many cases, these children are kidnapped and

smuggled into the system. Some have no other choice but to surrender themselves to its horrors

simply to be able to eat and provide for themselves. Many believe that if anyone, even a child,

enters sex trafficking willingly, then they are not a victim of it, and they are responsible for their

own choices and actions. However, the "Facts and Questions on Domestic Minor (Child) Sex

Trafficking the USA says otherwise. Any minor used in a commercial sex act (the exchange of

any item of value for a sex act) IS a victim of trafficking, regardless of their willingness or desire

to engage in the sex act (1) This is because any person under the age of 18 is not mentally

mature enough to understand what they are opening themselves up to, nor are their bodies

physically capable to take on the extremely physical strain that the system inflicts on them.

Young girls especially are often the main targets of traffickers because they tend to not be able to

recognize a situation that could throw them into to such a dire and often deadly system that they

do not want to inflict upon themselves. Youth are often more susceptible to the psychological

tactics used by traffickers, including manipulation, deception, and romantic advances. The

average age of girls at entry as female juvenile prostitutes is 12 to 14 years (Pardee 1).

Traffickers seek out vulnerable, unhappy teenslike runaways (Farmer 1). At a young age,
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they tend to be more emotionally vulnerable to manipulation, willing to believe anything simply

to feel beautiful, important, loved and recognized. Sadly, their ignorance of danger throws them

into something few people ever escape. In the article Out of the Shadows, author Liz Farmer

tells the story of a young girl who runs away from home only to be led by a turn of events to

become involuntarily involved in sex trafficking. She was forced into a Heroin addiction which

was used to control her. Out of pure luck, the girl managed to escape but had to undergo severe

drug treatment to free herself of her Heroin addiction. Farmer says, Angeliques story may

sound sensational, but in the world of child sex trafficking, its painfully normal (1). Although

this is a sobering story, what is most revolting is that many, many more people have stories that

are much like this one, but do not end as well. Additional research proposes that between one

and two million young people, between the ages of ve and fteen are sold into domestic sexual

slavery annually (Roswurm 2). These people, young or older, are treated terribly and find

themselves in terrible situations. In an article written by Michelle Pardee titled Identifying

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking she states The US Department of Health & Human Services

estimates that between 100,000 and 325,000 American youth are at risk for sexual exploitation

(1), and author Simon Hedlin says that 2.4 million people around the world are being trafficked,

eighty percent of them for purposes of sexual exploitation (3). And in the article Out of the

Shadows Farmer states that It is noted that 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the

United States each year and that current laws fail to protect victims because they are often

illegal immigrants. And that is only in the United States alone. Sadly, the fate of these poor

young people does not only lie in the hands of the traffickers, but it also lies within the hands of

the people who can help them to recover. However, this help is being denied to the young

victims. People have replaced their charity and understanding with pride and judgment and have
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refused to see their need and act on it. In the article titled Domestic Minor Sex Trafcking:

Assessing and Reducing Risk authors Karen Countryman-Roswurm and Brien L. Bolin quote

R. B. Flowers saying, when we think of the word prostitute, a number of synonyms come to

mind, many of them stereotypical and sexist: whore, fallen woman, street walker, call girl, white

slave, drug addict, runaway, and even victim. Lost in these synonyms is the human child who

should be protected rather than judged and turned away (4). Outside help that is denied these

poor people not only helps the trafficking system to thrive, but it worsens the lives of the victims

who, a lot of the time, had no say in whatever landed them in their situations or what their future

held for them.

Why is sex trafficking happening and how could it possibly have any kind of benefit for

anyone? Unfortunately, sex trafficking is a top money maker. With an estimated $150 billion in

yearly profits, human trafficking has

been cited as the third largest source of

revenue (behind narcotics and arms

sales) and the fastest-growing criminal

industry in the world (see figure 1)

(Pardee 2). However, the credit for the

success of sex trafficking doesnt fully

go to the traffickers and their profits.

There would be no success without

demand. It is important to recognize

that despite the lack of clarity on

Figure 1 (Trafficking rates around the world)

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prevalence rates, the sexual exploitation of American youth would not be so widespread or

lucrative were it not for the demand. In American society, the demand for sex and sexuality is

high, and the media have made terms such as prostitution, pimps, and johns part of everyday

vocabulary (Pardee 1). In the article Can Prostitution Law Reform Curb Sex Trafficking?

Theory And Evidence on Scale, Substitution, and Replacement Effects author Simon Hedlin

states, Simply put, prostitution can be seen as a market: the demand side comprises individuals

who purchase sex, while the supply side includes both voluntary prostitutes and sex-trafficking

victims (4). It is revolting to think that people not only find pleasure in taking advantage of

other people and their pain, but even demand it on a sickening level. People have often asked the

question why do we not arrest and punish the people who buy the rights to another persons

body? The "Facts and Questions on Domestic Minor (Child) Sex Trafficking the USA answers

that question, saying, The buyers of sex from juveniles can be anyone professionals, students,

tourists, military personnel, a family member. Because buyers often pay in cash and may interact

with a victim for as little as five minutes, buyers are increasingly difficult to identify (1).

Unfortunately, catching those who support the system is nearly impossible for the most part.

There have been and still are active attempts to stop the progression of sex trafficking.

However, attempts to bring an end to the system have proven to be nearly impossible. Although

sex trafficking started as mostly a hidden underground operation, it has thrived as time has

passed and the system managers have become smarter, stealthier, and more determined and the

demand has grown larger and more aggressive. In the article titled Out of the Shadows written

by Liz Farmer, she states that Progress is slow. Thats because in California and elsewhere, the

real struggle in combating trafficking is in changing how the justice system treats the victims of

the sex trade. Until recently, victims were seen as law-breaking prostitutes, and law enforcement
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dealt with them accordingly. Thats starting to change. Alameda County has established girls

courts as a way of focusing on treatment rather than jail time, an idea that Los Angeles County

has since implemented as well (1). It can now be found everywhere, whether one can recognize

it when they see it or not. Those who are sex trafcked are difcult to identify and are often

misidentied (Roswurm 3). Traffickers have become masters of disguise. They must be to keep

an illegal business such as this running. Roswurm and Bolin continue, saying, DMST

(Domestic Minor Sex Trafcking) survivors are difcult to identify due to their transient nature.

Young people are often taken to different states and frequently sold or traded between multiple

trafckers traditionally known as pimps. Furthermore, DMST is hard to identify or conrm

unless a young person is caught in the act or is clearly associated with those who are known to be

involved in DMST (3). A major problem that sex trafficking victims have been facing is

persecution from the law. Because prostitution is against the law in most places, those who

practice it, against their will or not, are being held responsible for it. But many people do not

comprehend the fact that most of the time, these people practice it because they are tricked and

forced into it and simply have no other choice. However, some have recognized this and are

standing up to protect the victims from even further heartbreak, humiliation, and mental

destruction. Farmer says, In the years since then, hundreds of laws in dozens of states have been

passed to address specic aspects of sex trafficking and the exploitation of children. California

last year joined other states that make all minors immune from prosecution for prostitution.

Some states have enacted so-called safe-harbor laws, which say that trafficked children should be

treated as victims and be diverted from the justice system to appropriate services. Beginning with

New York in 2010, half of all states now have a law that allows someone who committed a crime

while being trafcked the opportunity to get it wiped from their record. (1). However, a
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question still remains. If prostitutes are protected by law and are not arrested for breaking the

law, how can we rescue the victims and work to stop the system? Author Liz Farmer mentions

this question in her article saying If police cant lock up youths involved in prostitution, what

can they do? At the very least, detaining child prostitutes is a way to temporarily remove them

from a bad situation. True, jail time comes with its own traumas. But in California, for example,

the problem now is that the state doesnt have the right infrastructure to treat and rehabilitate

victims. Child welfare is responsible for responding to them, but the system doesnt yet have a

specic treatment plan in place. Nor is there a network of safe houses to send victims for

treatment. The smattering of religious facilities and privately run centers isnt enough (2).

Although prostitutes should not be held responsible for their illegal action, it is within their best

interests to be arrested when caught not to be punished, but to free them from their dire situations

and hopefully place them in a better situation. In the article "Can Prostitution Law Reform Curb

Sex Trafficking? Theory and Evidence on Scale, Substitution, and Replacement Effects", Simon

Hedlin lists and discusses four possible solutions to sex trafficking that are being practiced in

different parts of the world. He introduces the first saying, In Romania, for instance, it was

previously illegal to sell sex but legal to buy it (2). Although it is a system that is being

practiced, it is a rather contradictory one and probably not the most logical or effect solution. For

the second possible solution, he explores the American approach which is to ban both the selling

and buying of sex. However, even though they have made both sides of the market illegal, they

still mainly focus on arresting those who sell the sex rather than those who buy it. Hedlin

continues saying, In practice, though, most prostitution-related arrests in the United States are

made against sellersnot buyersof sex. Hard numbers on the seller-buyer arrest disparity are

exceptionally difficult, if not outright impossible, to come by, but some have estimated that as
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many as nine out of every ten prostitution-related arrests in the U.S. are of sellers, not buyers

(3). It is a better approach because both are being targeted, but still ineffective in many ways

because only one side is really being dealt with. He introduces his third possibility saying,

Other countries, such as the Netherlands and Germany have opted for a third approach. Both

countries have legalized prostitution and related activities such as pimping and running brothels.

18 Under this approach, the state makes no effort to deter people from selling or buying sex.

Instead, law enforcement agencies focus on rooting out trafficking and other exploitative forms

of prostitution, and may use resources that would otherwise have been devoted to investigating,

arresting, and prosecuting buyers or sellers of sex to target traffickers, and other exploitative

suppliers, instead (3). Legalizing both sides of this inhumane system seems to be the most

obvious thing not to do to prevent it from happening further. However, Simon Hedlin presents a

theory that could possibly explain how its legalization could possibly be a solution. Proponents

of this approach tend to believe that it is, above all, the criminalization of prostitution that makes

trafficking attractive in the first place, and that permitting prostitution will therefore help reduce

the prevalence of trafficking (3,4). The fourth possible solution that he explores is the

legalization of selling sex, and the illegalization of buying it. This seems to be a system that

would be most effective because a market has no future if there is nothing there to support it.

Hedlin supports this possibility by saying that, a focus on the demand side of the sex trade has

the potential to shrink the market for prostitution and thereby reduce the profitability of sex

trafficking, which means that traffickers should supply fewer victims to the market. The rationale

for targeting demand instead of supply is simple. The idea is that there will be someone who is

willing to supply the market as long as demand exists in the form of individuals willing to pay

hefty sums for sexual services. Proponents of the Demand Model argue that it is unrealistic to
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think that trafficking can be successfully fought without substantially reducing, if not

eliminating, the demand side of the

commercial market in sex. Because

sex trafficking can be very lucrative,

and because actors in the market, such

as pimps, perceive the risk of being

caught as relatively low, proponents of

this fourth approach have argued that

reducing the demand for paid sex

Figure 2 (How to eliminate demand)

may make it much less profitable for traffickers to stay in business. If fewer people purchase sex,

proponents contend, traffickers will traffic fewer human beings (4, 5). Because of the logically

appealing evidence that this idea proposes, as well as the factual evidence, this possible solution

could be a very likely answer to the problem of sex trafficking (see figure 2) and may be a very

successful one if given the chance.

Sex trafficking is a terrible thing that no one should ever have to participate in whether it

be by choice or by force. Far too many people are involved in this system and it has brought back

the whole ideal of slavery to the world, something that we have all fought for such a long time to

be rid of completely. Humanity has gone to great lengths to understand the meaning of human

rights and have worked towards achieving it for all human beings. But sex trafficking prevents us

from being able to do so. Having it still exist in our world has made it not a place of safety for

our youth, but a place of fear and suffering. It is clear that people understand what is happening

in our world and who it is being done to. People understand why it is being done, for personal
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profit that could not ever have a hope of justifying it. But are we doing anything to fix it? Do we

know how? Or are we just too lazy to do something about it. Either way, something must be done

and soon or before we know it, our world will be thrust into a darkness that there will be no hope

for anyone of overcoming.

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Works Cited

Countryman-Roswurm, Karen and Brien Bolin. "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Assessing and

Reducing Risk." Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, vol. 31, no. 6, Dec. 2014, pp.

521-538. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10560-014-0336-6.

"Facts and Questions on Domestic Minor (Child) Sex Trafficking the USA | FAQs." Shared Hope

International. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2017.

Farmer, Liz. "Out of the Shadows." Governing, vol. 30, no. 4, Jan. 2017, p. 40. EBSCOhost,


Hedlin, Simon. "Can Prostitution Law Reform Curb Sex Trafficking? Theory and Evidence on

Scale, Substitution, and Replacement Effects." University of Michigan Journal of Law

Reform, vol. 50, no. 2, Winter2017, pp. 329-386. EBSCOhost,



Pardee, Michelle, et al. "Identifying Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking." Clinical Advisor, vol. 19,

no. 6, June 2016, pp. 26-31. EBSCOhost,