Dr Rajiv Desai

An Educational Blog






Anna was a pretty blond, 25 year old Russian woman who had trained to be an exhibition ballroom dancer in her native town. . . She was recruited to be a dancer in Germany by answering an ad in a Russian newspaper. She was transported to Germany through Poland by a bus where she was taken to an apartment, locked in a room and told that she would be working as a prostitute. There was another Russian girl in the apartment who had been horribly beaten for having resisted forced prostitution. Anna was terrified and she initially agreed to work for the German pimps—but after being repeatedly raped by over 20 male “clients” during her first day, she refused to cooperate any further. She was beaten with a metal pipe for resisting. Both of her arms were broken before she was systematically raped by the pimps. Stories like Anna’s are not rare: trafficking human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation has exploded into a sophisticated industry that generates billions of dollars in profit every year yet devastates the lives of millions of innocent victims.  “Can people really buy and sell women and get away with it? Sometimes I sit here and ask myself if that really happened to me, if it can really happen at all.” said Ukrainian woman who was trafficked, beaten, raped, and used in the sex industry in Israel. After a police raid, she was put in prison, awaiting deportation.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and children are abducted, deceived, seduced, or sold into forced prostitution, coerced to service hundreds if not thousands of men before being discarded. These trafficked sex slaves form the backbone of one of the world’s most profitable illicit enterprises and generate huge profits for their exploiters; for unlike narcotics, which must be grown, harvested, refined, and packaged; sex slaves require no such “processing,” and can be repeatedly “consumed.”  Within the last decade, the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation has become a major concern for governments, NGOs and the media. Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of the sex trafficking industry. No race, religion or region is unaffected.  Since most of sex trafficking is comprised of women and girls, this leaves a small percentage of victims within the male gender as well but I will discuss female sex trafficking. 



ILO = International Labor Organization

IOM = International Organization for Migration

UNICEF = United Nations Children’s Fund

UNODC = United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

CATW = Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

UN.GIFT = United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking  


Human trafficking is a worldwide form of exploitation in which men, women, and children are bought, sold, and held against their will in involuntary servitude. In addition to the tremendous personal damage suffered by individual trafficking victims, this global crime has broad societal repercussions, such as fueling criminal networks and imposing public health costs.


Human trafficking as per UN:

The Trafficking Protocol was adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000, and is an international legal agreement attached to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. The consent of a victim of trafficking shall be irrelevant. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means as narrated before. “Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.  The Trafficking Protocol entered into force on 25 December 2003. By June 2010, the Trafficking Protocol had been ratified by 117 countries and 137 parties.


The definition on trafficking consists of three core elements:

1) The action of trafficking which means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons

2) The means of trafficking which includes threat of or use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power or position of vulnerability

3) The purpose of trafficking which is always exploitation and includes the prostitution of others, forced labor, slavery or servitude.  


The “Palermo Protocol” distinguishes between trafficking in children (under 18 years of age) and adults. In the case of children, the recruitment and movement of a child for exploitation by a third party is considered human trafficking even if it does not involve the illicit means included in the definition above.


In addition to the criminalization of trafficking, the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol requires criminalization also of:

1. Attempts to commit a trafficking offence.

2. Participation as an accomplice in such an offence.

3. Organizing or directing others to commit trafficking.


There are three main types of human trafficking:

1. Trafficking for forced labor;

2. Trafficking for sexual exploitation (the focus of my discussion);

3. Trafficking for organ harvesting.


Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, and sale of individuals; through force, fraud, deception or other means; with the aim of exploiting them for economic gain. It is the fastest-growing and second-largest criminal enterprise in the world. Almost every country is affected by human trafficking, whether as a place of origin, transit or destination for victims. In the eyes of the United Nations, this is a crime against humanity. Human trafficking not only involves sex and labor, but people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.  According to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), there are as many as 27 million victims of human trafficking, with as many as 100,000 in the U.S.  Many factors have contributed to the rise of modern slavery, including population growth, especially in the developing world, displacement of people to urban areas, civil wars, lack of job security, and extreme poverty. Attractive characteristics for trafficking include the presence of military bases, large immigrant populations, large service industries, open expanses of land, airports, and open water. Government corruption is also a big factor, as is the low cost of a slave. The average price of a modern slave is a mere $90. The major forms of human trafficking are forced labour, sex trafficking, forced child labour, child sex trafficking, involuntary domestic servitude, and bonded labour. Victims are forced to work without pay, cannot escape from their captors, and live under constant threat of violence. Trafficking victims normally don’t seek help for fear that they or their families will be hurt or killed. Many are also afraid of being deported. Roughly 50 percent of trafficking victims are children (under the age of 18), and 80 percent are female. The International Labor Organization—the UN agency charged with addressing labor standards, employment, and social protection issues—estimates that there are at least 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor, and commercial sexual servitude at any given time. Of these victims, 1.4 million are victims of commercial sexual servitude Also, 56% of all forced labor victims are women and girls (ILO). In the case of all forced labor, 40-50% of persons exploited may be children (ILO). People are trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries (UN). The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion (UN).


Human traffickers are increasingly trafficking pregnant women for their newborns. Babies are sold on the black market, where the profit is divided between the traffickers, doctors, lawyers, border officials, and others. The mother is usually paid less than what is promised her, citing the cost of travel and creating false documents. A mother might receive as little as a few hundred dollars for her baby.


Worldwide trafficking estimates:


Year of publication 

Estimate Target Population Sources and Links Methods and limits



to 800 000 people



Human trafficking global estimation based on TVPA 2000

Trafficking in persons report, Washington DC, 2008, p.7 Use of Monte Carlo simulation as the basis for estimating the risk of being trafficked.This estimation will depend on several quantitative criteria such as “age”, “sex”, neglecting other qualitative criteria as important as “knowledge of migration network”, “cultural factor”….


2.44 millions

Specifics :
43%: sexual exploitation32%: labor exploitation25%: mixture of both

1.2 million are minors 

Trans and intra borders


Human trafficking global estimation based on trafficking protocol

The report also estimates the annual profits made by traffickers worldwide

General report, 18th International conference on labor statistics, 2008, p.10“ A global alliance against forced labor”, 2005“Forced Labor and Human Trafficking: estimating the profits”, 2005 ILO used “capture/recapture method”, here based on reported cases, to estimate the total number of trafficking victims worldwide between 1995 and 2004Estimation reliability depends mainly on the quality and the quantity (proportionality) of those cases


“however, one estimate suggests that 50% of trafficking victims worldwide are children” Trans and intra borders


Estimation of child trafficking

Combating Child trafficking; An handbook for parliamentarian, 2005,p13

 ILO/IPEC: Every child counts, a new global estimates on child labor, ILO, Geneva, 2002

“There are no exact estimates of the numbers of trafficked children at this time”


“Estimates of the number of trafficked persons range from 500 000 to 2 million per year” Undeterminated/


UNIFEM Website, Facts & Figures on Violence Against Women, 01/2009 “While exact data are hard to come by”


Reference to ILO estimation (2.5 million men, women and children)

Reference to US dept. of state estimation (800 000 people)

Trans and intra border  Review of UNHCR’s efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking, 09/2008, p.5  “Although there is a wide range of estimates regarding the extent of the problem, it is difficult to state with a high degree of certainty how many trafficking victims there are world wide”


“This Report does not estimate the number of victims trafficked. The indicators used in this report are based on the frequency with which the subject is reported by the source institutions”. The report contains detailed information on 161  countries, including information on persons trafficked from, through, to, and within a country; trafficking routes; trafficking for sexual exploitation versus forced labor; and the nationality, sex, and age of victims and offenders. UNODC Report:”Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns”, 2006, p.120

UNODC e-newsletter, Perspectives n.3

UNODC analyzes data from government statistics, reports of international organizations and NGOs, academic research, and media reports on over 5,000 episodes of trafficking


Relatives information’s on registered cases such as:

Victims (Sex, age, socio eco. status, education):Traffickers:

Trafficking routes and modus operandi:

Patterns of exploitation and re-trafficking

Focus:Registered human trafficking cases Trafficking Module Database, which includes13018 registered cases in June 2008—from 50 source countries and 78 destination countries—registered since November 1999 Fragmented approach.Data only collected where IOM has a presence.Findings may not easily be generalize.


The picture below shows worldwide trafficking estimates by different organizations:


Trafficking does not necessarily have to involve being moved from one location to another. If a person is forced, coerced, abducted, deceived into a situation of enslavement, even if it is in the same town, it is considered trafficking. So human trafficking may occur locally or domestically, without any movement, such as within the same city. When human trafficking occur from one country (origin country) to another country (destination country), victims may be transported by plane, boat, train or any type of vehicle, and often a combination of them, using genuine and/or fraudulent documents that are usually removed from them upon arrival at their destination. Victims may then be isolated and/or taken to illicit businesses where they may be subjected to physical & sexual abuse and concealment.


What if a trafficked person consents?

It is important to note that the consent of the trafficked person becomes irrelevant whenever any of the ‘means’ of trafficking are used. A child cannot consent even if the ‘means’ are not involved.


The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) was conceived to promote the global fight on human trafficking, on the basis of international agreements reached at the UN. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has assisted many non-governmental organizations in their fight against human trafficking. Within UN.GIFT, UNODC launched a research exercise to gather primary data on national responses to trafficking in persons worldwide. This exercise resulted in the publication of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in February 2009. The report gathers official information for 155 countries and territories in the areas of legal and institutional framework, criminal justice response and victim assistance services. The Global Initiative is based on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with successfully by any government alone. This global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world. To pave the way for this strategy, stakeholders must coordinate efforts already underway, increase knowledge and awareness, provide technical assistance, promote effective rights-based responses, build capacity of state and non-state stakeholders, foster partnerships for joint action, and above all, ensure that everybody takes responsibility for this fight. By encouraging and facilitating cooperation and coordination, UN.GIFT aims to create synergies among the anti-trafficking activities of UN agencies, international organizations and other stakeholders to develop the most efficient and cost-effective tools and good practices. UN.GIFT aims to mobilize state and non-state actors to eradicate human trafficking by reducing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms, ensuring adequate protection and support to those who fall victim, and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved, while respecting the fundamental human rights of all persons. In carrying out its mission, UN.GIFT will increase the knowledge and awareness on human trafficking; promote effective rights-based responses, build capacity of state and non-state actors, and foster partnerships for joint action against human trafficking.


The data contained in the Trafficking Database of UNODC was generated largely from research reports produced by international organizations (32%), and by governmental organizations (27%). NGOs and research institutes account for approximately 18% of the sources that contribute information to the Trafficking Database.


According to UN.GIFT, these are facts of human trafficking:

An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking.

Of these:

1.4 million – 56% – are in Asia and the Pacific

250,000 – 10% – are in Latin America and the Caribbean

230,000 – 9.2% – are in the Middle East and Northern Africa

130,000 – 5.2% – are in sub-Saharan countries

270,000 – 10.8% – are in industrialized countries

200,000 – 8% – are in countries in transition2


Risk factors for human trafficking are depicted below:


The victims of human trafficking:


The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age. An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries).  Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education. 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination count. People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy. 75-80% of human trafficking is for sex, followed by forced labor and organ harvesting. 80% of those sold into slavery are under the age of 24. Some are as young as 6. Currently only 1-2% of victims are rescued.  The total market value of illicit human trafficking is estimated to be over $32 billion – more than Nike, Starbucks and Google combined!  


Council of Europe:

In Warsaw on 16 May 2005, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was opened for accession and has since been signed by 43 member states of the Council of Europe. The Convention established a Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) which monitors the implementation of the Convention through country reports. Complementary protection is ensured through the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. In 2003 the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) established an anti-trafficking mechanism aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating States to tackle it effectively. The OSCE actions against human trafficking are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative for Combating the Traffic of Human Beings.


Problems with the concept of human trafficking:

According to some scholars, the very concept of human trafficking is murky and misleading. It has been argued that while human trafficking is commonly seen as a monolithic crime, in reality it is an act of illegal migration that involves various different actions: some of them may be criminal or abusive, but others often involve consent and are legal. Some argues that not everything that might seem abusive or coercive is considered as such by the migrant. For instance, ‘would-be travelers commonly seek help from intermediaries who sell information, services and documents. When travelers cannot afford to buy these outright, they go into debt’. One scholar says that while these debts might indeed be on very harsh conditions, they are usually incurred on a voluntary basis. The critics of the current approaches to trafficking say that a lot of the violence and exploitation faced by illegal migrants derives precisely from the fact that their migration and their work are illegal and not primarily because of some evil trafficking networks. Some believes that the whole trafficking discourse can be actually detrimental to the interests of migrants as it denies them agency and as it depoliticizes debates on migration.


Human trafficking versus migrant smuggling:

Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. In the latter, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to covertly transport them from one location to another. This generally involves transportation from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. There may be no deception involved in the (illegal) agreement. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way. While smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination. They are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work or services may include anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation. The arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment or on terms which are highly exploitative. Sometimes the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt.


Simply put, there are four main differences between human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

 1. Consent – migrant smuggling, while often undertaken in dangerous or degrading conditions, involves consent. Trafficking victims, on the other hand, have either never consented or if they initially consented, that consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abusive action of the traffickers.

2. Exploitation – migrant smuggling ends with the migrants’ arrival at their destination, whereas trafficking involves the ongoing exploitation of the victim.

3. Transnationality – smuggling is always transnational, whereas trafficking may not be. Trafficking can occur regardless of whether victims are taken to another state or moved within a state’s borders.

4.Source of profits – in smuggling cases profits are derived from the transportation of facilitation of the illegal entry or stay of a person into another county, while in trafficking cases profits are derived from exploitation.


The distinctions between smuggling and trafficking are often very subtle and sometimes they overlap. Identifying whether a case is one of human trafficking or migrant smuggling and related crimes can be very difficult for a number of reasons:

Some trafficked persons might start their journey by agreeing to be smuggled into a country illegally, but find themselves deceived, coerced or forced into an exploitative situation later in the process (by e.g. being forced to work for extraordinary low wages to pay for the transportation).Traffickers may present an ‘opportunity’ that sounds more like smuggling to potential victims. They could be asked to pay a fee in common with other people who are smuggled. However, the intention of the trafficker from the outset is the exploitation of the victim. The ‘fee’ was part of the fraud and deception and a way to make a bit more money. Smuggling may be the planned intention at the outset but a ‘too good to miss’ opportunity to traffic people presents itself to the smugglers/traffickers at some point in the process. Criminals may both smuggle and traffic people, employing the same routes and methods of transporting them. The relationship between these two crimes is often oversimplified and misunderstood; both are allowed to prosper and opportunities to combat both are missed. It is important to understand that the work of migrant smugglers often results in benefit for human traffickers. Smuggled migrants may be victimized by traffickers and have no guarantee that those who smuggle them are not in fact traffickers. In short, smuggled migrants are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked – combating trafficking in persons requires that migrant smuggling be addressed as a priority.


Figure above shows reported profile of victims and the purpose of human trafficking at the global level. Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is reported more frequently than trafficking for forced labor at the global level. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old.


What is the most commonly identified form of human trafficking?  Sex trafficking.

In UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, sexual exploitation was noted as by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced labor (18%). This may be the result of statistical bias. By and large, the exploitation of women tends to be visible, in city centers or along highways. Because it is more frequently reported, sexual exploitation has become the most documented type of trafficking, in aggregate statistics. In comparison, other forms of exploitation are under-reported: forced or bonded labor; domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare. There is a high global demand for women and children for sexual exploitation. Traffickers use their victims as “products” for sale. The average age of a young girl first being trafficked is 12-14 years old.  Often girls and young women are lured in by promises of good jobs and opportunities in other countries, only to find themselves trapped by ruthless criminals in a foreign land. Their passports are taken away from them when they arrive, and these helpless victims are often forced to work in strip clubs, massage parlours and as prostitutes. The chance of escape is very slim, but some eventually do manage to find help. Others are not so lucky.


Sex trafficking versus prostitution:

Sex trafficking isn’t prostitution, which is engaging in sex with someone for payment. The crime of sex trafficking has three parties: one person holding the victim, while using “force, fraud or coercion” to make the victim engage in sex acts for payment, and the third party paying for the sex. The underage victims are often runaways and victims of sexual abuse who are vulnerable to pimps promising modeling jobs, money, food and drugs. Of course, when we differentiate prostitution between voluntary (victimless) prostitution and forced prostitution, sex trafficking becomes a type of forced prostitution.


Are prostitution and sex trafficking inextricably linked?

Activists in this crusade insist that prostitution must be targeted, because it is prostitution more than anything else that is the root cause of trafficking. Opposing trafficking without simultaneously fighting prostitution is seen as treating the symptom instead of the disease. The conflation of trafficking and prostitution is motivated by the crusade’s ultimate goal of eliminating the entire sex trade, a goal that is frequently articulated.  Donna Hughes, for example, calls for “re-linking trafficking and prostitution, and combating the commercial sex trade as a whole.” Not only does she equate the two (“sex trafficking of women and children—what’s commonly called prostitution”), but also claims that most ‘sex workers’ are – or originally started out as – trafficked women and girls. The research literature does not support this claim. There is no evidence that most or even the majority of prostitutes have been trafficked. Moreover, prostitution and trafficking differ substantively; the former is a type of work, and the latter is a means of accessing a new market. Both empirically and conceptually, it is inappropriate to fuse prostitution and trafficking.


The issue, however, gets mired in controversy and confusion when prostitution too is considered as a violation of the basic human rights of both adult women and minors, and equal to sexual exploitation per se. Trafficking and prostitution become conflated with each other. …. On account of the historical conflation of trafficking and prostitution both legally and in popular understanding, an overwhelming degree of effort and interventions of anti-trafficking groups are concentrated on trafficking into prostitution. The line between forced and voluntary prostitution is very thin, and prostitution in and on itself is seen by many as an abusive practice and a form of violence against women. In Sweden, Norway and Iceland it is illegal to pay for sex (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute) [vide infra].



Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The term prostitution means engaging or offering or agreeing to engage for hire in sexual penetration or sexual contact. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute. Prostitution is one of the branches of the sex industry. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being a punishable crime to a regulated profession. Many people believe prostitution is a choice and/or that it is a victimless crime. Both of these beliefs are incorrect. Women and girls are, with few exceptions, forced into prostitution. Estimates place the annual revenue generated from the global prostitution industry to be over $100 billion. Prostitution is sometimes referred to as “the world’s oldest profession”. If prostitution in general is legal, there is usually a minimum age requirement for legal prostitution that is higher than the general age of consent. Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms. Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution. In escort prostitution, the act may take place at the customer’s residence or hotel room (referred to as out-call), or at the escort’s residence or in a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort (called in-call). Another form is street prostitution.  It is interesting to note that due to their high desirability, Indian actresses – and women claiming to be actresses – can command high prices for sexual services. Prostitution is a significant issue in feminist thought and activism. Many feminists are opposed to prostitution, which they see as a form of exploitation of women and male dominance over women, and as a practice which is the result of the existing patriarchal societal order. These feminists argue that prostitution has a very negative effect, both on the prostitutes themselves and on society as a whole, as it reinforces stereotypical views about women, who are seen as sex objects which can be used and abused by men. Other feminists hold that prostitution can be a valid choice for the women who choose to engage in it; in this view, prostitution must be differentiated from forced prostitution, and feminists should support sex worker activism against abuses by both the sex industry and the legal system. Most of the research done by Sanlaap indicates that the majority of sex workers in India work as prostitutes due to lacking resources to support themselves or their children. Most do not choose this profession out of preference, but out of necessity, often after the breakup of a marriage or after being disowned and thrown out of their homes by their families. The children of sex workers are much more likely to get involved in this kind of work as well.


Over the last few decades, most of the countries have experienced a phenomenal growth of prostitution especially for the countries of the ex-USSR and Eastern Europe. Millions of women, teenagers, and children thus live in the red-light districts of the urban metropolises of their own countries or in those of the nearby countries. Two million women prostitute themselves in Thailand (Barry 122), 400,000 to 500,000 in the Philippines (CATW), 650,000 in Indonesia (CATW), about ten million in India (of whom 200,000 are Nepalese) (CATW), 142,000 in Malaysia (CATW), between 60,000 and 70,000 in Vietnam (CATW), one million in the United States, between 50,000 and 70,000 in Italy (of whom half are foreigners, most notably from Nigeria), 30,000 in the Netherlands (CATW), 200,000 in Poland (Opperman), and between 60,000 (Guéricolas) and, more credibly, 200,000 (Opperman) in Germany. German prostitutes sell sexual services to 1.2 million “customers” per day (Opperman ; Ackermann and Filter).


In India and Southeast Asia almost everybody seems to have entered prostitution involuntarily (although some, after having been trafficked, choose to stay in the industry). One of the ironies is that sex trafficking often arises in particularly sexually repressed countries, such as India, Pakistan and the Arab world. “Young American men sleep with their girlfriends while Indian men with prostitutes”. And just as much of American society accepts promiscuity as the unfortunate but inevitable consequence of sex drive, so India accepts the trafficking of 14-year-olds in the same way. On the balance, I think that it would be better off with more promiscuity and less trafficking rather than with less promiscuity and more trafficking. Of course, controlling your sex drive is the best option but how many men can do it?


Sex tourism:

Sex tourism refers to travelling, typically from developed to under-developed nations, to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes. Sex tourism is travel for sexual intercourse with prostitutes or to engage in other sexual activity. The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination”. The growth of sexual tourism over the last 30 years has entailed the “prostitutionalization” of the societies involved. In Thailand, with 5.1 million sexual tourists a year, 450,000 local customers buy sex every day. Government policies favorable to sex tourism contributed to the explosion of this industry. So sex tourism is a type of prostitution and should not be confused with sex trafficking.


Child sex tourism:

Child sex tourism is a travel to a foreign country for the purpose of engaging in commercially facilitated child sexual abuse. Child sex tourism results in both mental and physical consequences for the exploited children that may include disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and possibly death. Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil and Mexico have been identified as leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation. Child sex tourism is a criminal (in most countries) multi-billion-dollar industry believed to involve as many as 2 million children around the world. In an effort to eradicate the practice, many countries have enacted laws to allow prosecution of its citizens for child abuse that occurs outside their home country, even if it is not against the law in the country where the child abuse took place, for example, the US Protect Act.


Legality of prostitution:

The figure below shows legal status of prostitution in various countries.


Countries around the world have taken one of four approaches to prostitution laws: prohibition, regulation, abolition, and decriminalization. The prohibitionist approach is characterized by criminalization of all prostitution-related activities: soliciting, procuring, pimping, and brothel keeping. The regulation approach is characterized by the legalization and regulation of the sex industry. The abolitionist approach is characterized by the treatment of women and children used in prostitution as victims in need of services and the treatment of the buyers and traffickers as perpetrators. In this scheme, those who sell sex acts are decriminalized, whereas those who buy others for sex are criminalized. The decriminalization approach is a strategy to achieve either the abolitionist approach or the regulation approach. In some countries, like New Zealand and Thailand, decriminalization was a means to regulation. In New Zealand, all offenses including prostitution, brothel keeping and other related offenses were decriminalized by the national parliament, which then tasked local governments with promulgating regulations of the sex industry. In other countries like Sweden, decriminalization is a means to abolition. Those who buy other human beings for sex or promote their sexual exploitation such as pimps and traffickers face criminal penalties. Those who sell sex do not face such penalties. In the United Kingdom and Germany, the definitions of prostitution and sex trafficking are linked. In Sweden, the definition of human trafficking is linked with sexual exploitation.     



Do women choose sex work?

Women and girls are seen as actively choosing “sex work” as legitimate work. The reality is that the act of being prostituted is sexually exploitative in itself; regardless of the al­leged or actual degree of power, control or safety women can exercise in different situations and at different times in their lives. There are different degrees, levels and extent of coercion, abuse and violence perpetrated against any one woman or girl at any particular time but most women who are in the sex industry are violated and sexually exploited. The sex in­dustry is an inherently unsafe and dangerous environment.


The fundamental question:

Is prostitution a form of violence and exploitation of women, which should be banned, or a job like any other, which should be regulated? The question has divided Europe. Spain has been dubbed the “brothel of Europe,” with up to 500,000 women working as prostitutes. Every day, 1.5 million men buy sex in Spain. Ninety per cent of the prostitutes are immigrants – mainly from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa – coerced into the trade by criminal rings. There are exceptions to coerced sex trade. Margarita Carreras has worked as a prostitute for 24 years “because I want to, because this is a free country, because it is very lucrative and because I prefer it to a cleaning job,” she explained. However, she is in minority league of sex workers as compared to majority league who sell sex not out of choice.


With regard to prostitution, three worldviews exist: abolitionism (where the prostitute is considered a victim), regulation (where the prostitute is considered a worker) and prohibitionism (where the prostitute is considered a criminal). Currently in the Western World, two main tendencies oppose each other: abolitionism and regulation.


For the proponents of the abolitionist view, prostitution is always a coercive practice, and the prostitute is seen as a victim. They argue that most prostitutes are forced into the practice either directly by pimps and traffickers or indirectly through poverty, drug addiction and other personal problems, or, as it has been argued in recent decades by radical feminists such as Andrea Dworkin, Melissa Farley and Catharine MacKinnon, merely by patriarchal social structures and power relations between men and women. William D. Angel finds that “most” prostitutes have been forced into the profession through poverty, lack of education and employment possibilities. Kathleen Barry argues that there should be no distinction between “free” and “coerced”, “voluntary” and “involuntary prostitution “since any form of prostitution is a human rights violation, an affront to womanhood that cannot be considered dignified “labor”.  France’s Green Party argues: The concept of “free choice” of the prostitute is indeed relative, in a society where gender inequality is institutionalized. The proponents of the abolitionist view hold that prostitution is a practice which ultimately leads to the mental, emotional and physical destruction of the women who engage in it, and, as such, it should be abolished. As a result of such views on prostitution, Sweden, Norway and Iceland have enacted laws which criminalize the clients of the prostitutes, but not the prostitutes themselves.


In contrast to the abolitionist view, those who are in favor of legalization do not consider the women who practice prostitution as victims, but as independent adult women who had made a choice which should be respected. Mariska Majoor, former prostitute and founder of the Prostitution Information Center from Amsterdam holds that: “In our [sex worker’s] eyes, it’s a profession, a way of making money; it’s important that we are realistic about this (…) Prostitution is not bad; it’s only bad if done against one’s will. Most women make this decision themselves.” Indeed, many consider prostitution as a legitimate activity, which must be recognized and regulated, in order to protect the workers’ rights and to prevent abuse. They believe that  prostitutes must be treated as sex workers to enjoy benefits similar to other professions. The World Charter for Prostitutes Rights (1985), drafted by the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights, calls for the decriminalization of all aspects of adult prostitution resulting from individual decision. Since the mid-1970s, sex workers across the world have organized, demanding the decriminalization of prostitution, equal protection under the law, improved working conditions and the right to pay taxes, travel and receive social benefits such as pensions. As a result of such views on prostitution, countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand have fully legalized prostitution.


In trying to understand the varied views of prostitution and female sex trafficking, it is important to recognize that the two opposing sides of the issue, those opposed to prostitution and those in support of it, come at the issue with a different question in mind. To those opposed to prostitution, the belief is: a woman’s body is not a commodity for men’s pleasure. To those in favor of prostitution, the belief is: no one should interfere with a woman utilizing her body as a resource for financial gain. One common view within these readings is the feminist perspective that declares that women deserve equal treatment with men in all societies simply because they are human beings. The view that I believe is most important is the view of the survivors of trafficking and prostitution themselves. In a press release titled Survivors of Prostitution and Trafficking Manifesto (2005), women who consider themselves victims of prostitution and sex trafficking ask for the sake of their own lives and the lives of women in similar situations, not to legalize or condone the prostituting of women or children. These women do not represent every woman who has been a prostitute or victim of sex trafficking, but based on the growing amount of work on this subject, it would seem that they may represent a vast majority of victims. 


To its victims, sexual exploitation is neither sex nor sexy. Many progressives who state that globalized capitalism promotes gender, race and class inequality have a strange reluctance to criticize the sex industry for doing exactly that. They are out of touch with the majority of women in prostitution who want not “better working conditions” but a better life. Prostitution is not “sex work;” it is violence against women. It exists because significant numbers of men are given social, moral and legal permission to buy women on demand. It exists because pimps and traffickers prey on women’s poverty and inequality. It exists because it is a last ditch survival strategy, not a choice, for millions of the world’s women.


Field research from nine countries shows the great harm suffered by people used in prostitution: 89 percent of people being used in prostitution want to escape. 60 to 75 percent of women in prostitution have been raped, 70 to 95 percent have been physically assaulted, and 68 percent met the clinical criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder.


Forced prostitution:

“Forced prostitution” generally refers to conditions of control over a person who is coerced by another to engage in sexual activity. Forced prostitution, also known as involuntary prostitution, is the act of performing sexual activity in exchange for money on a non-voluntary basis. There are a wide range of entry routes into prostitution, ranging from “voluntary and deliberate” entry, “semi-voluntary” based on pressure of circumstances, and “involuntary” recruitment via outright force or coercion. Sexual slavery encompasses most, if not all, forms of forced prostitution. All forms of involuntary prostitution are regarded as an offence under customary law in all countries. This is different from voluntary prostitution which has different legal statuses in different countries, which range from being fully illegal and punishable by death to being fully legal and regulated as an occupation in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand. The issue of consent in prostitution is a hotly debated issue. Opinion in places like Europe has been divided over the question of whether prostitution itself should be considered as a free choice or as inherently exploitative of women. The law in Sweden, Norway and Iceland – where it is illegal to pay for sex, but not to sell sexual services – is based on the notion that all forms of prostitution are inherently exploitative; opposing the notion that prostitution can be voluntary. In contrast, prostitution is a recognized profession in countries such as Netherlands and Germany.


Victimless prostitution versus forced prostitution vis-à-vis sex trafficking:

There is a “call girl” image, where lovely, apparently educated women choose to become prostitutes, almost as a career choice. This is “clean” prostitution, prostitution as a profession — where men always use condoms and women get tested for HIV as a matter of course. This is almost always portrayed as somehow empowering (and even fun) for women and the image is of high-class call girls getting paid a lot of money to have non-abusive, non-violent sex with wealthy, powerful but still “gentlemanly” (and usually attractive) men. This image seems to be the closest to the kind of prostitution that most people can feel comfortable with. This is the type that is viewed as “victimless” and “consensual”. This is the type that people think should be legalized, regulated and taxed. There is another case of women who are over 18, with no education, living in poverty with no work experience, who found the only way to make money was to go into the streets and who did not have a pimp, and they may fall in the category of voluntary prostitution. However, these cases are rare as compared to so called forced prostitution where women who perhaps came from an abusive childhood, who perhaps have a drug problem, who may have a pimp, but who still are adults making “choices”. In this view, the image is of not-so-attractive women having cheap sex in motel rooms or cars with traveling salesmen or suburban husbands. This is the most common type of prostitution where research indicates that most prostitutes were sexually abused as girls, and they typically enter “the life” between the ages of 12 and 14. The majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, and one third have been threatened with death by pimps, who often use violence to keep them in line. Sex trafficking leads to this kind of forced prostitution and therefore must be distinguished from victimless prostitution. Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation is an extreme form of sexual violence against women, usually in the context of migration, which has nothing in common with prostitution as a consensual service. A study found that 89% of 785 people in prostitution from nine countries wanted to escape prostitution. 75% of those in prostitution have been homeless at some point in their lives. 


Violence vis-à-vis sex worker:

A study report showed that violence is very much a part of the lives of the women who were prostituted and sex trafficked. Not only did most of the women (92 percent) say they had been raped, and physically assaulted in prostitution, 79 percent had been physically abused as children, by an average of 4 perpetrators, with more than half (56 percent) abused by caregivers. Additionally, the report states that 72 percent of the women suffered head injuries (described as traumatic brain injury) including broken jaws, fractured cheekbones, missing teeth, punched lips, black eyes, blood clots in the head, hearing loss, memory loss, headaches and neck problems. Violence was an intrinsic part of the prostitution and sexual exploitation used to control and intimidate the women. Another study compared violence against sex workers in the U.S. with international sex workers. Eighty-six percent of U.S. women and 53 percent of the international women reported being physically abused by pimps and traffickers. One half of the U.S. women and 1/3 of the international women described frequent, sometimes daily assaults. Eighty-eight percent of U.S. women and 50 percent of international women reported psychological abuse. Ninety percent of the U.S. women and 47 percent of international women reported verbal threats. Seventy percent of U.S. women and 40 percent of international women reported being sexually assaulted in prostitution at the hands of the pimps and traffickers. As evidenced from the context of interviews with women, the research team believes that these findings represent underreporting of the actual violence perpetrated, especially against international women by pimps and buyers. There may be many reasons for this underreporting including normalization or non-naming of the violence in their lives. Women were isolated, confined and guarded to prevent them from leaving. Thirty-five percent of international women, and 64 percent of U.S. women were held in isolation and under guard in brothels or compounds. Prostitution is ontologically a form of violence. It feeds on violence and in turn amplifies it. Abduction, rape, submission – there are submission camps in a number of European countries, not only in the Balkans and in Central Europe, but also in Italy, where submission is called “schooling” – terror and murder are still the midwives and outriders of this industry; they are essentially not only for market development, but also for the “manufacture” of the “goods” as they contribute to making prostituted people “functional” – this industry demands total availability of the body. A study of street prostituted people in England established that 87% of them had been victims of violence during the past 12 months; 43% were suffering the consequences of serious physical abuse. A research study in Chicago showed that 21.4% of women working as escorts and exotic dancers had been raped more than 10 times. An American study in Minneapolis showed that 78% of prostituted people had been victims of rape by pimps and customers, on average, 49 times a year. 49% had been the victims of abduction and had been transported from one state to another and 27% had been mutilated. I want to emphasize that women and girls who are the objects of sex trafficking as well as the vast majority of prostituted women, have very often been subjected to violence.


Is prostitution consensual sex or rape?

If rape is defined as any unwant­ed sex act, then prostitution has an extremely high rate of rape because many survivors view prostitution as almost always entirely consisting of unwanted sex acts or even in one woman’s words, paid rape… prostitution is like rape. I will narrate story of a commercial sex worker in her own words. “It’s like when I was 15 years old and I was raped. I used to experience leaving my body. I mean that’s what I did when that man raped me. I went to the ceil­ing and I numbed myself because I did not want to feel what I was feeling. I was very frightened. And while I was in prostitution I used to do that all the time. I would numb my feelings. I wouldn’t even feel like I was in my body. I would actually leave my body and go somewhere else with my thoughts and with my feelings un­til he got off, and it was over with. I don’t know how else to explain it except that it felt like rape. It was rape to me.”  Are you moved by paid rape? If you aren’t then you have no conscience.


Would prostitution legal or illegal reduce rape rates?

Kirby R. Cundiff, PhD, Associate Professor of Finance at Northeastern State University, wrote the Apr. 8, 2004 working paper entitled “Prostitution and Sex Crimes,” for the Independent Institute that stated: “It is estimated that if prostitution were legalized in the United States, the rape rate would decrease by roughly 25% for a decrease of approximately 25,000 rapes per year…The analysis seems to support the hypothesis that the rape rate could be lowered if prostitution was more readily available. This would be accomplished in most countries by its legalization.  A study conducted in Queensland… showed a 149% increase in the rate of rape when legal brothels were closed in 1959, while other offenses against the person by males increased only 49%.


However, there are contradictory studies which challenge above mentioned studies. Safer Society Foundation, Inc. (then known as Prison Research Education Action Project), in the 1976 Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Abolitionists, wrote: Three cities which allowed open prostitution experienced a decline in rape after prostitution was again prohibited. Rapists include men who do not patronize prostitutes. Rapists include men who have ‘girlfriends,’ or are married, or living with women. Statistical studies of reported rapes show that the majority of rapists are well below the age of males who most frequently use prostitutes. Also, statistics show that most rapes are executed on women whom rapist already know or have acquaintance with them rather than strangers. Finally, in Vietnam, brothels for the American military were officially sanctioned and incorporated into the base-camp recreation areas and yet G.I. rape and sexual abuse of Vietnamese women and girls is one of the most atrocious chapters of violence in U.S. history.


So there is no evidence to suggest that prostitution indeed reduce rape rates. Rapist would rape even if alternative sex subject is easily available. Rapist is raping a woman not because he is sex starved but because he wants to dominate woman by having sex with her without her consent.  Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) Australia branch posted on their website “Frequently Asked Questions About Prostitution” (accessed Mar. 8, 2007) that stated: ..In cases of gang rape by sportsmen in Australia in 2004, it has become clear that the use of prostituted women and strip clubs is integral to the woman hating and male bonding which led to the sexual violence. The argument also suggests that women who are not prostituted are safer because some other women are set aside to be commercially raped on their behalf. Women’s equality requires that all women should be free from sexual exploitation. Prostitution cannot eliminate rape when it is itself bought rape. The connection between prostitution and rape is that women are turned into objects for men’s sexual use; they can be either bought or stolen. A culture in which women can be bought for use is one in which rape flourishes.  In fact, legal sex businesses provide locations where sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and violence against women are perpetrated with impunity. State-sponsored prostitution endangers all women and girls, in that acts of sexual predation are normalized…


Sexual slavery:

Sexual slavery is when unwilling people are coerced into slavery for sexual exploitation. The Rome Statute’s definition of sexual slavery includes situations where persons are forced into domestic servitude, marriage or any other forced labor that involves sexual activity, as well as the trafficking of persons for sexual purposes, frequently women and children. Sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of children, child prostitution, child pornography, child sex tourism, forced prostitution, white slavery, and sexual slavery during armed conflict & war including comfort women etc are various types of sexual slavery.


Comfort women:

The term “comfort women” was a euphemism used to describe 200,000 women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. A majority of the women were from Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines, although women from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military “comfort stations”.  Young women from countries under Japanese Imperial control were abducted from their homes. In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants. Once recruited, the women were incarcerated in “comfort stations” in foreign lands. “Comfort women” are a widely publicized example of sexual slavery. Each slave was reportedly raped “an average of 10 rapes per day (considered by some to be a low estimate), for a five day work week; this figure can be extrapolated to estimate that each ‘comfort girl’ was raped around 50 times per week or 2,500 times per year. For three years of service – the average – a comfort girl would have been raped 7,500 times.


Mail-order brides:

Mail-order brides means ordering and paying for exotic women from overseas to be a man’s wife; men can order their brides online and even take “tours” of a country’s women. The women often come from countries such as China, the Ukraine, the Philippines, Peru, Costa Rica, and various areas throughout Russia.


White slavery:

In English-speaking countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the phrase “white slavery” was used to refer to sexual enslavement of white women. It was particularly associated with orientalist accounts of women enslaved in Middle Eastern harems. The phrase gradually came to be used as a euphemism for prostitution. In the United States in the early twentieth century, peaking in 1910, when Chicago’s U.S. attorney announced (without giving details) that an international crime ring was abducting young girls in Europe, importing them, and forcing them to work in Chicago brothels. These claims, and the panic they inflamed, led to the passage of the United States White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. It also banned the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes. 


Other types of sex slavery are discussed elsewhere in the article.



Pimp is a person who procures a commercial sex worker. Pimp is a link between the customer and the sex worker. Pimps are generally males and any woman who is doing a job of a pimp is called a madam. Traffickers are also known as pimps or madams, exploit vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities, while offering promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry. Various works in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude. To stay in business, pimps and traffickers need a steady supply of victims. A pimp can only use a woman or girl for a limited period of time before she needs to be replaced usually because of poor physical or mental health or addiction. Russian police said that a woman lasts only one year with a pimp before her “quality decreases.”  The pimp-prostitute relationship can be abusive and possessive, with the pimp / madam using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use and the shame from these acts. A large percentage of pimps are also documented gang members, which causes concerns for police agencies in jurisdictions where prostitution is a significant problem as they are also involved in other crimes including narcotics. The use of the Internet for prostitution as well as other changes in the sex industry has resulted in the disintermediation of prostitution, allowing prostitutes to deal with clients directly. This has rendered pimps largely superfluous in many developed nations but pimps do have significant roles in sex trafficking. It must be understood that sex trafficking is not trafficking of a prostitute to another state/area.


Even though the terms pimp and trafficker are used interchangeably, a person who traffics a sex slave inter-country is called trafficker while a person who traffics a sex slave intra-country is called pimp.



The pimps who are trafficking young women and girls on the street have a great marketing tool: the media. You can turn on the TV now and see pimps glamorized in TV shows, music videos, and movies. Young people use “pimp” in everyday conversation: “my ride is pimped out,” “your clothes are pimping.” They do not understand the reality behind the term. Pimps prey on young women and girls by finding their weakness and then exploiting it. It is easier to manipulate children, and by the time children become adults, they are broken down and dependent on a pimp. After the pimp gets into your mind, it’s easy for him to maintain control, much like a domestic abuser. From then now on you have to call him “daddy” and he will punish you if he feels like you have stepped out of line. You are required to bring him $500-$2,000 every night. You are not a woman, you are always a “bitch” or a “ho” and are reminded of that daily. You are part of his “stable.” If you do not want to follow the rules, then he may sell you at anytime to another pimp.


Few women and girls in prostitution are willing to acknowledge that they have or are controlled by a pimp. The pimp has convinced her that he is a boyfriend or someone who cares about and looks after her. Acknowledging that he is a pimp violates the characterization of the relationship that the pimp has worked to create and can be psychologically devastating to the woman or girl to admit what he is really doing to her. Pimps also instruct victims to keep his role a secret because he knows that he is engaging in criminal activity and wants to remain hidden. Also, men who purchase sex like to believe that the woman or girl is acting independently; they don’t want to know that she has a pimp. It interferes with their fantasy of their interaction.


Traffickers/pimps make it their business to understand the psychology of youth and to practice and hone their tactics of manipulation. The trafficker’s goal is to exploit and create vulnerabilities and remove the credibility the minor holds in the eyes of their families, the public, and law enforcement. The trafficker’s ultimate goal is profit. The figure below shows Sex Trafficking Power and Control Wheel.


The researchers identified four stages through which young women and girls are subjected to manipulation and eventual domination by pimps:

1) Ensnaring of vulnerable, socially isolated teenagers;

2) Establishing victim dependency by displays of affection and generosity;

3) Taking control of victims by establishing a sexual relationship and introducing the idea of sex work; and

4) Total dominance of victims sustained by physical coercion.


Researchers identified following characteristics of pimps in a study:

1. Pimps running street workers tended to be men with diverse offending styles.

2. They had long criminal histories and did not necessarily define themselves as pimps. Many of them had started criminal activity in their teens.

3. The majority had pimped juveniles at some time.

4. Pimps routinely used violence, often using or threatening the use of guns. In interviews, they admitted using considerable degree of control over the lives of victims, deciding almost every aspect of their lives and work. In the previous six months, two-thirds were in possession of illegal firearms; three-quarters were dealing drugs; two-thirds had committed one robbery; two-thirds had committed assaults with actual bodily harm, and half had committed assaults with grievous bodily harm.

5. Many pimps were heavily involved in drug dealing, and most had significant drug habits.

6. Drug dependence often substituted for violence as the means of coercing compliance from victims.

7. Even though pimps had extensive contact with the criminal justice system, only a very small proportion of their offending came to police attention.

8. Pimps of off-street prostitution establishments, such as massage parlors or escort services, tended to be women, without significant involvement in other forms of crime.

9. The off-street “managers” relationships with women and girls were contractual rather than coercive.

10. There were pressures on off-street exploiters to avoid working with juveniles and to minimize drug use on their premises.


Once a woman is under the control of a trafficker or pimp, she can be exploited to make a large profit. Pimps can make 5 to 20 times as much from a woman as they paid for her. An International Organization for Migration study of women trafficked into Germany found that the trafficker or pimp requires a payment of US $3,000 to $30,000 from a woman for her travel expenses and her purchase price. Then she must pay for her room and board in the brothel as well as the pimp’s fees, lawyer’s fees, doctor’s fees, and sometimes private living expenses. Even after a woman has paid off her debt, she must turn over 50 to 75 percent of her earnings to pimps. The money from the sale of commercial sex acts enriches pimps and traffickers at the cost of the freedom, health, and well-being of victims. Victims are often compelled to earn money by force, fraud, and coercion. In addition to physical and sexual abuse, psychological control methods include manipulation of emotionally vulnerable teen girls, threats and withholding of identification papers of undocumented immigrants, and the use of debts, drug, and alcohol dependence.


Sex trafficking:

Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, deception, taking advantage of vulnerability, fraud, or coercion. The elements of force, fraud and coercion are not relevant in cases involving persons under age of 18 years due to the fact that they are minors. Sex trafficking is the exploitation of women and children, either within national borders or across international borders, for the purposes of forced /coerced sex work. It is characterized as a human being that is sexually exploited in exchange for goods or money. Each year, an estimated 800,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders—and unknown numbers are trafficked within countries. The American Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) makes no mention of force, fraud or coercion even for adults above 18 years – simple trafficking in contrast to severe trafficking where force, fraud and coercion is used but different countries have different laws. The term “commercial sex act” means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.  Furthermore, some victims of sex trafficking may have a notion that they will be involved in the sex industry when they accept the sex trafficker’s offer. However, such pre-knowledge does not mean they are not a victim. Usually they have some concept or idea, but the reality is much worse than what they anticipated. They may have thought they would only have to have sex with 5 men a day but are forced to have sex with 10. They may have thought condoms would be used, but they are coerced to have sex without condoms. Such a person is as much a victim of sex trafficking as someone who did not have any idea they would be involved in the sex trade. So the emphasis on whether a person is knowing or unknowing is irrelevant. By definition, sex trafficking is a type of forced prostitution. Sex trafficking and prostitution are a part of the same continuum of criminal activity, that is, the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Sex trafficking is a form of slavery and involuntary servitude resulting in grave human rights violations.


A world map showing the legislative framework (or lack thereof) in place in different countries to prevent female trafficking:


Force, fraud and coercion are the methods used by traffickers to press victims into lives of servitude and abuse:

1. Force – Rape, beatings, confinement

2. Fraud – False offers of employment, marriage, better life

3. Coercion – Threats, debt-bondage, psychological abuse 


Not all sex trafficking victims are coerced under false pretenses. Many women and children are simply stolen- kidnapped off the streets. In many countries, police are paid off by traffickers to ‘look the other way’. This is an effective tactic. Meanwhile, the girls are locked in dark rooms with no windows. They are violated horrendously. Their bodies are used as disposable pleasure for many years. When they are finally released, because their youthfulness is jaded and they have become terribly diseased, they are fully broken. They know no other way of life. They often then turn into street prostitutes.


Several countries rank high as source countries for human trafficking, including Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, China, Thailand, and Nigeria (origin countries). Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, and the U.S. are ranked very high as destination countries of trafficked victims.  According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine are among the countries that are the greatest sources of trafficked persons. The UNODC further cites Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the United States as being common destination countries of trafficked women and girls.


Destination western nations and originating countries both are complicit and complacent, and rife with corruption, all of which contribute to the growth of a new criminal industry – the illegal trafficking of women for sex. So says author Victor Malarek, whose riveting book titled “The Natashas – Inside The New Global Sex Trade” has proved conclusively that complicity, complacency, corruption drive global trafficking trade. The author passionately describes the deplorable conditions under which women are forced to work and live. That they are victims and not willing participants remains crystal clear in his mind no matter how many times he hears from government officials or men who avail themselves of such services that “the women knew what they were getting into” or “they do it for the money.” He knows that not a single one of the victims would willingly submit to be “raped by a fat, ugly, doughy pervert”, especially when most of the time it’s the pimp who gets the money, not the woman being used for sex. People find it hard to believe that women could be duped so easily. “They can’t be that stupid” is a phrase the author hears over and over again. Poverty and despair are the main reasons why women fall into the trap of being trafficked. Faced with few prospects for earning a living and feeding their children & abusive husbands, women choose what they perceive to be their only way out. Because of indifferent societies and left with few if any legal alternatives, the women remain stuck with the choices they made, often branded for life.


The United Nations estimates that some 80% of persons trafficked are trafficked for sexual exploitation. They are mostly women and children (UN 2003). An estimated 120,000 women and children are trafficked into Western Europe each year (European Commission, 2001). The US Department of State considers that globally some 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked within and across borders annually, of whom some 80% are women & girls and some 50% are minors (US Dept of State, 2005). Some European estimates suggest that, in 1990-1998, more than 253,000 women and girls were trafficked into the sex industry of the then 12 EU countries.


Just as the development of local prostitution is tied up with rural migration towards cities, hundreds of thousands of young women are moving internationally towards the urban areas of Japan, Western Europe, and North America. These rural migrations towards close or distant urban areas show no sign of slowing down (Santos). On the contrary, everything indicates that it is continuing and that traffic in women and children is widespread. The women and children of South and Southeast Asia constitute the most important group: 400,000 persons a year are objects of the aforementioned traffic. Russia and independent states from the ex-USSR constitute the second most important group (175,000 persons a year) followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (about 100,000 persons) and Africa (50,000 persons).The number of prostitutes from the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Russia installed in Japan is estimated at 150,000 (CATW). About 50,000 Dominicans prostitute themselves abroad, notably in the Netherlands, where they were found to make up 70 per cent of the occupants of 400 Amsterdam sex-shop “windows” (Guéricolas 31). About 500,000 women of Eastern Europe and between 150,000 and 200,000 women of the countries of the ex-USSR prostitute themselves in Western Europe. Of these, it is estimated that 150,000 are in the red-light districts of Germany-a country where 75 per cent of the prostitutes are foreign (Oppermann). About 40 per cent of Zurich’s prostitutes are from a Third World country (Oppermann). About 50,000 foreigners arrive each year in the United States to supply the prostitution networks (O’Neill). Each year, nearly a quarter million women and children of Southeast Asia (Burma, Yunnan province in China, Laos and Cambodia) are bought in Thailand, a transit country, for a price varying between 6,000 and 10,000 U.S. dollars (CATW). In Canada, the intermediaries pay 8,000 dollars for a young Asiatic from the Philippines, Thailand or Malaysia whom they resell for 15,000 dollars to a pimp (CATW). In Western Europe, the current price of a European woman from the former “socialist” countries is between 15,000 and 30,000 $ (CATW). On their arrival in Japan, Thai women have a debt of 25,000 $ (CATW). These bought women have to work for years to pay off “expenses” incurred by the pimps. In countries that have legalized prostitution or where it is tolerated, prostitution has become an important tourist draw.


The picture below shows scale of sex service in Europe:


Official estimates of individuals in sex trafficking worldwide vary. In 2001 the International Organization for Migration estimated 400,000, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated 700,000 and UNICEF estimated 1.75 million.  In Western Europe alone, the International Organization for Migration estimates that around 500,000 women per year are trafficked from poorer regions in the world.  Several factors lead women to look for working possibilities in other countries. In Eastern Europe, women have been the victims of the political and economic changes of the 90s with the dismantlement of the former Soviet Union social security structures and are today highly represented in unemployment statistics. In Netherlands, the Bureau of the Dutch Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings in 2005 estimated that there are from 1,000 to 7,000 trafficking victims a year and most police investigations relate to sex businesses. In Germany, the trafficking of women from Eastern Europe is often organized by people from that same region. German authorities identified 676 sex-trafficking victims in 2008. In Greece, according to NGO estimates in 2008, there may be a total 13,000–14,000 trafficking victims of all types in the country at any given time. Major countries of origin for trafficking victims brought into Greece include Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, Moldova, Romania, and Belarus. In Switzerland, the police estimated in 2006 that there may be between 1,500 and 3,000 victims of all types of human trafficking. One news article states that an estimated 200,000 Nepalese girls have been trafficked to red light areas of India. Nepalese women and girls, especially virgins, are reportedly favored in India because of their fair skin and young looks. One report estimates that every year between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked into the red light districts in Indian cities, and that many of the girls may only be 9 or 10 years old. Eighty percent of North Koreans who escape into China are women. Nine out of 10 of those women become victims of human trafficking, often for sex. If the women complain, they are deported back to North Korea, where they are thrown into gulags or are executed. The trafficking in Persons Report of 2007 from the US Department of State says that sexual slavery exists in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, where women and children may be trafficked from the post-Soviet states, Eastern Europe, Far East, Africa, South Asia or other parts of the Middle East. In 2001 the United States State Department estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls are trafficked each year into the United States. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2006 that in the 21st century, women mostly from South America, Southeast Asia, and the former Soviet Union, are trafficked into the United States for the purposes of sexual slavery. Sex trafficking in the United States may be present in Asian massage parlors, Mexican cantina bars, residential brothels, or street-based pimp-controlled prostitution. In 2000 the U.S. Congress legislated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act with tougher punishments for sex traffickers and also the creation of the possibility for former sex slaves to obtain a T-1 visa.  To obtain the visa women must prove they were enslaved by ‘force, fraud or coercion’. The visa allows former victims of sex trafficking to stay in the United States for 3 years and then apply for a green card.  


Sex trafficking is a type of human trafficking involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbor or receipt of persons, by coercive or abusive means for the purpose of sexual exploitation. So sex trafficking is basically human trafficking involved in sexual slavery. Traffickers use psychological and well as physical coercion and bondage, and it defines coercion to include: threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process. Although not all sex slaves are trafficked, all sex trafficking victims are victims of sexual slavery. Trafficking is a particularly cruel type of slavery because it removes the victim from all that is familiar, renders her completely isolated and alone, often unable to converse in the language of her fellow victims or captors.


One of today’s biggest human rights crises is the international trafficking of women and girls into sex slavery. Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world, outranked only by arms and drug dealing. The number of people trafficked each year is estimated by most experts to be in the millions. Given its current growth rate, which is fuelled by its high profitability, low investigation rate and low prosecution rate, human trafficking is expected by some to take over drug trafficking as the second largest criminal industry in the world within the next decades.


The figure above shows human trafficking to the United States as an example of trafficking networks. Traffickers acquire their victims primarily from developing countries where poverty is rampant, commonly through some means of force or deception. Victims are typically very young, most ranging in age from eight to 18 years old. Some are as young as four or five years old. A common scenario involves a poor Asian or Eastern European girl who is offered a “better life” as a housemaid, restaurant server or dancer in a wealthy country such as the United States, Great Britain, or Italy. When she arrives at her destination, her passport is taken away, she is physically and sexually abused, and she is forced into prostitution in a country where she neither speaks the language nor has any a friend, relatives or means of support. She is forced to service 8-15 clients a day and does not receive any pay. Rather, the money is used to pay off her “debt” to the trafficker and brothel owners for transportation, food, lodging and so on. After some period of time, she will be resold to another brothel owner, often in another country, and the cycle will continue all over again. She is likely to acquire HIV/AIDS, and to pass it on to her clients and their wives, all around the world. She has a greater chance than most of dying early, and is certain to live a horrible existence in whatever short years she has. Even if she is eventually rescued and repatriated to her country and community, she is likely to be ostracized as a result of her involvement in prostitution.


This sexual exploitation is not dependent on nationality, race or religion. It is also not dependent on economic or social standing. For example, a working man from Cambodia may purchase the use of a child sex slave trafficked from Vietnam for $1. Another Vietnamese girl of the same age will be charged out at $200 – often more if she is still a virgin – to a European businessman in Hong Kong. Both girls will be forced to service countless American and local military men. A South American girl will be trafficked into Canada under an “exotic dancer” visa and forced into prostitution. A desperately poor Romanian child will be used as a sex slave in the lucrative and depraved child pornography business, the reach and growth of which has become unlimited since the advent of the Internet. The one substantial difference is that it is the wealthy countries – through their military, businessmen, expatriates, tourists, and Internet pornography subscribers, all of whom pay significantly more for the use of a sex slave – that keep this criminal industry extremely profitable for traffickers.


Migration patterns of trafficking tend to flow from East to West, but trafficking victims exist everywhere. Women may be trafficked from any country to another country at any given time; many of the poorest and most unstable countries have the highest incidences of trafficking, and trafficking victims share a common bond in extreme poverty where there are no economic alternatives and so women and girls are more vulnerable to being deceived and coerced into sexual service. Higher unemployment and lower job security have undermined women’s economic positions and incomes. A stalled gender wage gap combined with an increase in women’s informal sector and part-time work push women into poorly-paid jobs as well as long-term and often hidden unemployment, leaving women vulnerable to traffickers.


Shocking Sex Trafficking Facts:

 1) 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; this is in addition to the millions already held captive by trafficking.

 2) Every 2 minutes a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation.

 3) The average victim is forced to have sex up to 40 times a day.

 4) The average age of a trafficked victim is 14 years old.

 5) Approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years.

 6) Sex trafficking is an engine of the global AIDS epidemic.

 7) People are trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries.

 8) Between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the USA each year.

 9) The total market value of illicit Sex Trafficking is estimated to be in excess of $32 billion.

 10) Trafficking in women is the second largest global organized crime today.

 11) Over 25% of victims are trafficked from Southern and Eastern Europe.

12) Tragically, only 1-2 percent of victims are rescued, and only 1 in 100,000 Europeans involved in trafficking are convicted.

13) 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year as a result of sexual abuse, disease, torture.

14) A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that a single sex slave could earn her pimp at least $250,000 a year.


Types of Sex Trafficking:

Victims of trafficking are forced into various forms of commercial sexual exploitation including prostitution, pornography, stripping, live-sex shows, mail-order brides, military prostitution and sex tourism. Victims trafficked into prostitution and pornography are usually involved in the most exploitive forms of commercial sex operations. Sex trafficking operations can be found in highly-visible venues such as street prostitution, as well as more underground systems such as closed-brothels that operate out of residential homes. Sex trafficking also takes place in a variety of public and private locations such as massage parlors, spas, strip clubs and other fronts for prostitution. Victims may start off dancing or stripping in clubs and then be coerced into situations of prostitution and pornography. 


Sex trafficking of girls from Nepal into India:

Dr. Govinda Prasad Kusum, then Secretary for Ministry of Home Affairs in Nepal, said that approximately 7,000 to 10,000 girls are being trafficked into India every year. “We have a large number of Nepalese girls in India’s red light areas and controlling traffickers is proving troublesome because we share open borders with India and traffickers have a dozen ways to cross borders without being noticed,” said Kusum at the launch of “the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons”. In Nepal, trafficking has become a highly profitable business, with high profile political connections. Nepali, Bangaldeshi and Pakistani women are trafficked to India, and through India they are trafficked to Eastern Europe and Saudi Arabia. The trafficking of girls from Nepal into India for the purpose of prostitution is probably the busiest ‘slave traffic’ of its kind anywhere in the world. More than 200,000 Nepalese girls are involved in the Indian sex trade. In Nepal child marriage is accepted, and considered the best method to procure girls for prostitution. Many of the girls are barely 9 or 10 years old. The girls are sold by poor parents, tricked into fraudulent marriages, or promised employment in towns only to find themselves in India’s brothels. They’re locked up for days, starved, beaten, and burned with cigarettes until they learn how to service up to 25 clients a day. Some girls go through ‘training’ before being initiated into prostitution, which can include constant exposure to pornographic films, tutorials in how to ‘please’ customers and repeated rapes. Trafficking in women and girls is easy along the 1,740 mile-long open border between India and Nepal. Trafficking in Nepalese women and girls is less risky than smuggling narcotics and electronic equipment into India. Traffickers ferry large groups of girls at a time without the hassle of paperwork or threats of police checks. The procurer-pimp-police network makes the process even smoother. Bought for as little as Rs (Nepalese) 1,000, girls have been known to fetch up to Rs 30,000 in later transactions. Police are paid by brothel owners to ignore the situation. Girls may not leave the brothels until they have repaid their debt, at which time they are sick, with HIV and/or tuberculosis, and often have children of their own.


The picture below shows a rescued Nepalese sex trafficking victim reunited with her father who came searching for her in India.


Sex trafficking and largest democracy India:

Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a seminar on human trafficking that India occupied a “unique position” as what he called a source, transit nation and destination of this trade. India’s home secretary remarked that at least 100 million people were involved in human trafficking in India. The number of trafficked persons is difficult to determine due to the secrecy and clandestine nature of the crime. However, studies and surveys sponsored by the ministry of women and child development estimate that there are about three million prostitutes in the country, of which an estimated 40 percent are children, a CBI statement said. Prostitution in pilgrim towns, exploitation through sex tourism and pedophilia are some of the “alarming trends” that have emerged in recent years in India. Authorities believe 90 percent of human trafficking in India is “intra-country.” As far as inter-country sex trafficking is concerned, Women and children from India are sent to nations of the Middle East daily. India is “becoming a hub” for large scale child prostitution rackets, the Indian Supreme Court said and suggested the setting up of a special investigating agency to tackle the menace. “It’s happening because of abject poverty in the country. This is also because of the very high and large scale unemployment. All our cultural ethos are going down the drain. India is becoming a hub of such activities,” the apex court said while dealing with a PIL filed by an NGO. The brothels of India hold between 100,000 and 160,000 Nepalese women and girls, 35 percent were taken on the false pretext of marriage or a good job. In India, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu are considered “high supply zones” for women in prostitution. Bijapur, Belgaum and Kolhapur are common districts from which women migrate to the big cities, as part of an organized trafficking network. Districts bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka, known as the “devadasi belt,” have trafficking structures operating at various levels. The women here are in prostitution either because their husbands deserted them, or they are trafficked through coercion and deception. Many are devadasi dedicated into prostitution for the goddess Yellamma. In one Karnataka brothel, all 15 girls are devadasi. Sexual slavery and political corruption are leading to an AIDS catastrophe in India. Indian leaders and media are oblivious of the fact that India had indeed become a center of sex trafficking leading to AIDS epidemic. I have yet to see a single discussion on Indian TV about sex slavery in India. The so called ancient civilization has become brothel civilization. In a small town Daman where I live, every weekend women are trafficked into Daman for providing sexual services to the tourists. So sex trafficking is ubiquitous in India.


Older Women:

A recent trafficking case in Russia, in which a woman in her 50s was trafficked to Greece, indicates that a market exists for middle-aged women. Older men are seeking housekeepers, as well as someone for sex acts, and have a preference for older women instead of young women or teens who are seen as too difficult to control. In the U.S., there appears to a market for older Asian women to be used in massage parlors. These women are expected to perform masturbation massage.



At a global level, the largest number of reported references is to nationals of Asia (comprising several sub-regions) followed by Central and South Eastern Europe.

Figure above shows reported nationality of offenders (% of total sources reporting the profile of the offender).


Who traffics women and girls?

Organized crime is largely responsible for spreading international human trafficking. Although sex trafficking—along with its correlative elements such as kidnapping, rape, physical abuse, and prostitution—is illegal in nearly every country in the world, widespread greed and corruption make it possible for sex trafficking to proliferate. While national and international institutions attempt to regulate and enforce anti-trafficking legislation, local police forces and governments may in fact be participating in the very sex trafficking rings they are charged in preventing. Potential traffickers can include gangs and criminal networks, pimps, small business owners, factory owners, corporations, brothel and massage parlour managers, or employers of domestic servants. Both men and women are involved in trafficking operations, and they all profit from the control, exploitation and misery of others. Human traffickers often use a Sudanese phrase “use a slave to catch slaves,” meaning traffickers send “broken-in girls” to recruit younger girls into the sex trade. Sex traffickers often train girls themselves, raping them and teaching them sex acts.


Traffickers can be international organized crime syndicates or ‘mom and pop’ family-run operations. Traffickers include independent business owners. Many times they are members of the victim’s own ethnic or national community. These predators can include individuals who are prominent in their communities, adult men, including married men who take advantage of girls. Traffickers may include family members. Traffickers use legal businesses including massage parlors and strip clubs as fronts for trafficking.


In approximately 54% of human trafficking cases, the recruiter is a stranger, and in 46% of the cases, the recruiters know the victim. Fifty-two percent of human trafficking recruiters are men, 42% are women, and 6% are both men and women.



As for the traffickers, they are not respecters of international borders, the rule of law, democracy, or multi-lateral treaties guaranteeing universal human rights. They have no regard for the economic status of victims or their level of education. They do not discriminate against their victims based on the color of their skin, their nationality, or their religion. For all those among the innocent, the weak, the desperate, the hungry, the abandoned, and the vulnerable, sexual traffickers are equal opportunity exploiters.


The average age that a pimp/trafficker recruits a girl into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old. They know how to target the girls who are the most vulnerable. Her greatest vulnerability is her age. 12- to 14-year-olds are still naive about the world. So the danger is compounded for girls who have an unstable home life and those who are already victims of sexual abuse. It is not surprising that young children and adolescents are the primary targets of traffickers/ pimps, given their operational methods. Youth have less life experience, fewer coping mechanisms, and smaller social support mechanisms to draw from. Also traffickers like all those seeking to expand a business, respond to the preferences of the market – in this case, the buyers of sexual activities.


Victims of sex trafficking can be women or men, girls or boys, but the majority are women and girls. There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of sex trafficking including:

1. A promise of a good job in another country

2. A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation

3. Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends

4. Being kidnapped by traffickers

5. Agents who scout for potential victims in source regions, sometimes representing themselves as a potential sponsor or love interest

6. Misleading advertisements promising jobs and opportunity in western nations


As shown in figure below, the victims IOM assisted often were enticed by traffickers’ promise of a job, most believed they would be working in various legitimate professions, and were subjected to physical violence.


Traffickers use various techniques to keep victims enslaved. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques including:

1. Debt bondage – financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt

2. Isolation from the public – limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature

3. Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community

4. Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents

5. Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims

6. The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family

7. Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities

8. Control of the victims’ money, e.g., holding their money for “safe-keeping”

The result of such techniques is to instill fear in victims. The victims’ isolation is further exacerbated because many do not speak language of destination country and are from countries where law enforcement is corrupt and feared.


How are women trafficked?

Women and girls are ensnared in sex trafficking in a variety of ways. Some are offered legitimate and legal work in positions such as shop assistants or waitresses. Others are promised education, marriage, and the promise of a better life. Still others are sold into trafficking by friends, neighbors, acquaintances, boyfriends, and sometimes parents. Trafficking victims are often passed among multiple traffickers as they are moved further and further from their home countries. Women often travel through multiple countries before they arrive at their final destination, becoming confused and disoriented along the way. For example, a woman from the Ukraine may be sold to a trafficker in Turkey, who passes her on to a trafficker located in Thailand. Typically, once a woman is in the custody of traffickers, her official papers and passport are confiscated. Victims are told they are in the country of destination illegally, increasing the victims’ dependence on their traffickers. Women are often kept in captivity and are also trapped into debt bondage, meaning they are obligated to pay back large recruitment and transportation fees before they will be released from their captors. Many victims are charged additional fines or fees while being held under bondage, requiring them to work longer periods in order to pay off their fees. Trafficking victims go through several stages of degradation, physical, and psychological torture. They are often deprived of sleep and food, not allowed to move about freely, and endure physical torture. In order to keep women captive, they are told their families and children will be harmed or murdered if the women try to escape or if they tell anyone about their captivity. Because victims rarely understand the culture and language of the country into which they have been trafficked, they experience an additional layer of psychological stress, isolation, and frustration. Often before servicing clients women are forcibly raped by the traffickers in order to initiate the cycle of abuse and degradation. Some women are drugged in order to prevent escape. Once “broken in,” sex traffic victims often service up to 30 men a day and are vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection, and pregnancy. Sex traffickers use a variety of ways to “condition” their victims, including subjecting them to starvation, rape, gang rape, physical abuse, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim and victim’s family, forced drug use and the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and their families’ friends.


Sex trafficking victims are generally found in dire circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. Individuals, circumstances, and situations vulnerable to traffickers include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, job seekers, tourists, kidnap victims and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background. The Russian Mafia promises unemployed women a job in the United States. Upon arrival in United States, they take the passport from her, show her photos of her family back home and threaten her family if she runs. She is forced into prostitution with the threat that her children, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins will all be killed if she says no. This is how the organized crime get the cooperation of the women all around the world. They threaten the female’s family. This is how they make the woman compliant and take a professional female who is seeking a job and turn her into a prostitute. Fake job offers are a common way to obtain women in Asia, the Former Soviet Block Nations and Latin America. Female tourists can be targeted as they are far from home and not likely to be missed quickly.


There is no universally accepted definition of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The term encompasses the organized movement of people, usually women, between countries and within countries for sex work with the use of physical coercion, deception and bondage through forced debt. However, the issue becomes contentious when the element of coercion is removed from the definition to incorporate facilitating the willing involvement in prostitution. For example, in the United Kingdom, The Sexual Offenses Act, 2003 incorporated trafficking for sexual exploitation but did not require those committing the offence to use coercion, deception or force, so that it also includes any person who enters the UK to carry out sex work with consent as having been trafficked. In addition, any minor involved in a commercial sex act in the United States while under the age of 18 qualifies as a trafficking victim, even if no movement is involved, under the definition of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons, in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.


What happens while in captivity?

Sex traffickers have to scare their victims into doing what they want. They use a variety of tactics which is called “conditioning” their victims. Such tactics are:

Forced drug and alcohol use



Gang rape



Threats of violence to the victims and their families

Threatening to tell their families to shame the victims

Threatening deportation to victims who are not legal residents of the country


Profile of men who buy sex (also called johns or customers):

Listen to the story of Amira Birger, a 15-year-old girl who had been forced into the sex trafficking trade. She was raped by a family member when she was 6; a traumatic experience she says conditioned her to accept her miserable fate. In her eight months on the Phoenix streets, Amira Birger serviced four to five men a day, pulling in between $4,000 and $5,000 a week. Some hadn’t reached legal drinking age. Some were pushing 70. Some would take their wedding rings off and lay them on the nightstand while Birger earned her pimp a daily wage. “We worked down the street from the courthouse, and I swear we had judges and lawyers coming in,” Birger says. “Other times, it was painters or construction workers who had saved up their money. But there was no one profile. It was a huge, wide walk of life.”


There is no one profile of men who purchase sex. Men who purchase women are both rich and poor, Eastern and Western. Often they are married and have children, and in some cases as reported in the New York Times, men have sex with trafficked girls instead of abusing their own young children. A study in the United States found that the average age of men at the time they first purchase sex ranged from 9 to 62. A similar Canadian study found that age at time of first purchasing sex ranged from 12 to 57.34 Men who demand purchased sex are not limited to any one race, education level, socioeconomic status or religion. A study of men who purchase sex in Chicago found that 40 percent were African American, 36 percent were white, 14 percent were Latino, 5 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 5 percent were multicultural or “other”. Their education levels ranged from a few years of high school to graduate degrees. The yearly income levels amongst these men ranged from less than $20,000 to more than $140,000. Of these men, 44 percent were not religiously affiliated and 56 percent were—and of these, they were divided between Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, and Jewish. Sixty-two percent of these men had a partner (girlfriend or wife), and 38 percent were unattached. A study of men who purchase sex in London also found that the men are highly varied. In this study, 47 percent of men were white, 11 percent were black or African, 10 percent were Asian, 10 percent were Indian or Pakistani, 4 percent were Eastern European, 4 percent were multicultural, and another 14 percent included Afghan, Australian, Brazilian, Central American, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Western European, South African, and African American. Their incomes ranged between less than $32,000 and more than $80,000. Half of these men were politically moderate and the other half were split between right-leaning and left-leaning. Fifty-four percent of these men were in a relationship, and 44 percent were not.These numbers do not necessarily represent exact breakdowns of all men who purchase sex, but they illustrate a critical point: men who purchase sex and thereby create demand for victims are incredibly varied. It is impossible to dismiss any type of man as being innocent of purchasing sex or to claim that any one group of men is solely responsible for purchasing sex. Men of all kinds engage in this practice. One of the things that all of the men who purchase sex share is a belief that the bodies of women and girls are available for their sexual pleasure for a price. And that once the price has been paid, those women and girls will do what the men want. These men can turn a blind eye to the reality of these women & girls and believe the faked smiles and come-ons. Without men, there would be no demand. There would be no supply, either: it would not be profitable for pimps and criminals to stay in this business if platoons of men weren’t prowling side streets in search of purchased sex—male buyers who are willing to close their eyes and shell out $50 or $100 for a few minutes of physical bliss while deepening the misery of countless women and children.

Do customers insist on sex without condom?

Another study found that buyers came from all ages (15-90) and socio-economic classes. The majority of men were married. The majority of international (82%) and U.S. (58%) women said that men expected them to comply with all their requests. Almost half of the international and U.S. women (47% each) reported that men expected sex without condoms. Fifty percent of the international women, and 73 percent of U.S. women reported that men would pay more for sex without a condom. A significant portion of the international (29%) and U.S. (45%) women said that men became abusive if women tried to insist that they use condoms. Buyers subjected women to physical violence (international women–28%, U.S. women–86%), sexual assault (international women–36%, U.S. women–80%) and other forms threats and violence.


Research on customers (johns): Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex:

Ninety-nine percent of the research in this field has been done on prostitutes, and only one percent has been done on johns. A landmark study was done on men who buy sex and compared it with men who don’t buy sex. Men of all ages, races, religions, and backgrounds do it. Rich men do it, and poor men do it, in forms so varied and ubiquitous that they can be summoned at a moment’s notice. No one even knows what proportion of the male population does it; estimates range from 16 percent to 80 percent. Are all study findings true of just sex buyers, or are they true of men in general?  How men who buy sex differ from those who don’t buy?  Although the two groups share many attitudes about women and sex, they differ in significant ways. One man in the study explained why he likes to buy prostitutes: “You can have a good time with the servitude,” he said. A contrasting view was expressed by another man as the reason he doesn’t buy sex: “You’re supporting a system of degradation,” he said. Overall, the attitudes and habits of sex buyers reveal them as men who dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation. The study found that sex buyers were more likely to view sex as divorced from personal relationships than non-buyers, and they enjoyed the absence of emotional involvement with prostitutes, whom they saw as commodities. “Prostitution treats women as objects and not … humans,” said one john interviewed for the study. In their interviews, the sex buyers often voiced aggression toward women, and were nearly eight times as likely as non-buyers to say they would rape a woman if they could get away with it. Asked why he bought sex, one man said he liked “to beat women up.” Sex buyers in the study committed more crimes of every kind than non-buyers, and all the crimes associated with violence against women were committed by the johns. Sex buyers in the study used significantly more pornography than non-buyers, and three quarters of them said they received their sex education from pornography, compared with slightly more than half of the non-buyers. Over time, as a result of their prostitution and pornography use, sex buyers reported that their sexual preferences changed and they sought more sadomasochistic and anal sex. Many johns view their payment as giving them unfettered permission to degrade and assault women. “You have to treat a whore like a whore,” one john said. “You can find a whore for any type of need—slapping, choking, aggressive sex beyond what your girlfriend will do”, said another john. Johns prefer to view prostitutes as loving sex and enjoying their customers. “The sex buyers were way off in their estimates of the women’s feelings,” study reports. In reality, the bottom line is that prostituted women are not enjoying sex, and the longer she’s in it, the less she enjoys sex acts—even in her real life, because she has to shut down in order to perform sex acts with 10 strangers a day, and she can’t turn it back on. What happens is called somatic dissociation; this also happens to incest survivors and people who are tortured.    


Sex trafficking industry:

Trafficking and exploitation of women and children for the sex trade can be analyzed as money making criminal businesses. It is known that trafficking is a low risk, high profit criminal enterprise. When traffickers are caught, the penalties are relatively low compared to the amount of profit made and the harm done to victims. Organized criminals are involved in this illicit enterprise because it is low risk and enormously profitable.  Our goal is to increase the risk and eliminate the profitability.  


The sex industry has the capacity to include all forms of adult and child sexual exploitation in what it offers to the buyer; it does not discriminate against anyone including children of either gender, the young woman, the adult woman, the prostituted woman or child, the trafficked woman or child. The industry rejects no act of exploitation demanded by customers. It ensures that the needs of the consumers are always met. The sex industry is not concerned about acts of violence perpetrated against the victims, or the health of the victims. The pro-legalization lobby bases its arguments on a series of false distinctions that are not reflected in the reality of the lives of women and children in the sex industry. It promotes the ideas that: prostitution and trafficking are not connected; we must distinguish between forced and free prostitution; women and girls can only be protected by legal indoor prostitution; adult and child prostitution are distinct; those opposing legalization are denying women agency; there are “soft and harmless” sides to the pornography industry and so on.


The cost of doing business is a consideration for traffickers. They make decisions on where to traffic victims and set up business based on profit margins, as well as risk of arrest and prosecution. According to Russian police, because of the high cost of visas, documents and travel, it is not profitable to send victims to the US. Consequently, traffickers more often send victims to other countries. Intelligence gathered by Swedish police indicates that since the new anti-prostitution law came into effect in 1999, it is more difficult and risky to operate in Sweden. Therefore, the traffickers and pimps take victims to other markets where the costs and the risks are lower.


Sex trafficking can be extremely lucrative, especially in areas where education and employment opportunities may be limited. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the greatest numbers of traffickers are from Asia, followed by Central, Southeastern, and Western Europe. Crime groups that are involved in the sex trafficking of women and girls often are also involved in the transnational trafficking of guns and drugs, and frequently use violence in order to carry out their activities. Victims of human trafficking suffer devastating physical and psychological harm. However, due to language barriers, lack of knowledge about available services, and the frequency with which traffickers move victims, human trafficking victims and their perpetrators are difficult to catch. Many times, if a sex slave is arrested, she is imprisoned while her trafficker is able to buy his way out of trouble. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises because it holds relatively low risk with high profit potential. Criminal organizations are increasingly attracted to human trafficking because, unlike drugs, humans can be sold repeatedly. Human trafficking affects an estimated 2.5 million victims around the world yearly, more than half of whom are women and girls. Trafficking is driven by profit and may involve sexual exploitation or forced labor. Globally, trafficked workers generate US$ 32 billion each year. Yet in spite of the large scale of trafficking, most victims are never identified and few offenders – less than 1 in 10 – are ever convicted.



The exploiters are in business to make money. Manipulating and coercing a woman or girl into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, such as production of pornography and stripping is very profitable. According to Interpol depending on the market, a woman can bring in from $75,000 to $250,000 per year. The higher the standard of living in the destination country, the more money that can be made from each victim. Although traffickers and pimps can make more money in wealthier countries, buying sex is not less frequent in poorer countries. Poverty has never prevented men from frequenting prostitutes, whose fees are geared to the purchasing power of their customers.  A few estimates of the amount of money generated by the sex industry reveals how much profit there is in operating businesses that are often based on the exploitation of victims of trafficking.


Trafficking is a lucrative industry. It has been identified as the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable illegal industry in the world. In 2005, Patrick Belser of ILO estimated a global annual profit of $31.6 billion. In 2008, the United Nations estimated nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked into 137 countries around the world. Sex tourism is a major economic factor in many of these regions, and inside of certain circles particular areas may be well-known as sex-tourism destinations. In one report, the International Labor Organization estimated that between 2-14% of the gross domestic product of Indonesia, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand may be derived from sex tourism. According to the U.N., trafficking is a $32 billion annual industry that traps about 2.5 million people around the world at any given time. The average age of a young girl first being trafficked is 12-14 years old. Sex trafficking is a lucrative business and a trafficker can earn up to 20 times what he or she paid for a young girl.  Ludwig “Tarzan” Fainberg, a convicted trafficker said, “You can buy a woman for $10,000 and make your money back in a week if she is pretty and young. Then everything else is profit”. A human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for a girl. Provided the girl was not physically brutalized to the point of ruining her beauty, the pimp could sell her again for a greater price because he had trained her and broken her spirit, which saves future buyers the hassle. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year. Another study found that, on average, a good looking sex slave purchased for $10,000 from east European market could end up making her owner $160,000 in profits before she dies or runs away.  However, a child in Vietnam can be bought for as little as $400.  


In the last 30 years, the rapidly growing sex trade has been massively “industrialized” worldwide (Barry; Jeffreys). This process of industrialization, in both its legal and its illegal forms, generates profits amounting to billions of dollars. It has created a market of sexual exchanges in which millions of women and children have been converted into sexual commodities. This sex market has been generated through the massive deployment of prostitution, one of the effects of the presence of military forces engaged in wars and/or territorial occupation (Strudevant and Stolzfus) in particular in the emerging economies, the unprecedented expansion of the tourist industry (Truong), the growth and normalization of pornography (Poulin 2000), and the internationalization of arranged marriages (Hughes).


The sex industry, previously considered marginal, has come to occupy a strategic and central position in the development of international capitalism. For this reason it is increasingly taking on the guise of an ordinary sector of the economy. This particular aspect of globalization involves an entire range of issues crucial to understanding the world we live in. These include such processes as economic exploitation, sexual oppression, capital accumulation, international migration, and unequal development and such related conditions as racism and poverty.


The industrialization of the sex trade has involved the mass production of sexual goods and services structured around a regional and international division of labor. These “goods” are human beings who sell sexual services. The international market in these “goods” simultaneously encompasses local and regional levels, making its economic imperatives impossible to avoid. Prostitution and related sexual industries – bars, dancing clubs, massage parlors, pornography producers etc. – depend on a massive subterranean economy controlled by pimps connected to organized crime. At the same time, businesses such as international hotel chains, airline companies, and the tourist industry benefit greatly from the sex industry. In Thailand, trafficking is a 500 billion Bahts annual business (equivalent to approximately 124 million U.S. dollars), which represents a value equal to around 60 per cent of the government budget (CATW). In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that prostitution represented between two and 14 per cent of the economic activities of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines (Jeffreys). According to a study conducted by Ryan Bishop and Lilian Robinson, the tourist industry brings four billion dollars a year to Thailand. It is not without reason, then, that in 1987 the Thai government promoted sexual tourism through advertising. “The one fruit of Thailand more delicious than durian (a local fruit) is its young women” (Hechler).


The industrialization of the sex trade and its globalization are fundamental factors that make contemporary prostitution qualitatively different from the prostitution of yesterday. “Consumers” in the economic North now have access to “exotic” and young, very young bodies worldwide, notably in Brazil, Cuba, Russia, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and, given the trafficking of children, in their own countries. The sex industry is diversified, sophisticated, and specialized: it can meet all types of demands. Another factor, which confers a qualitatively different character on the current sex trade, is the fact that prostitution has become a development strategy for some countries. Under obligations of debt repayment, numerous Asian, Latin American, and African States were encouraged by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) to develop their tourism and entertainment industries. In each case, the development of these sectors inspired the development of the sex trade (Hechler). In certain cases, as in Nepal, women and children were put directly on regional or international markets (notably in India and in Hong-Kong) without the country experiencing a significant expansion of local prostitution. In other cases, as in Thailand, local, regional, and international markets developed simultaneously (Barry). We can see that, in every case, the “goods” in this market move transcontinentaly and transnationally from regions with weak concentrations of capital toward regions with stronger concentrations. For example, over ten years, 200,000 Bangladeshi women and girls were the object of trafficking to Pakistan (CATW), and we find that between 20,000 to 30,000 Thai prostitutes are from Burma (CATW). A good part of the migratory stream makes its way towards industrialized countries. Foreign women in these Asian countries are generally at the bottom of the prostitution hierarchy, are socially and culturally isolated, and work in the worst possible conditions.

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In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) released a report entitled The Sex Sector: The Economic and Social Bases of Prostitution in Southeast Asia. Based on research of the sex industries in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, the ILO gave an overall favorable review of the business of sex: The sex sector is a significant source of foreign exchange earnings, with links between the growth of prostitution as a highly structures transnational business and the expansion of the tourist industry in these countries, as well as labor exports from these countries. The ILO report called for prostitution and sex industries to be officially recognized as a legitimate economic sector because they are already “integrated into the economic, social and political life” of countries and “contribute in no small measure to employment, national income, and economic growth.”


State sex economy:

The State facilitates and regulates on behalf of the client and operates as a facilitator / pimp in ensuring the supply is continued under the guise of protecting the rights and health and safety of the victims. The State profits from the industry. Legal and illegal collusion of State and State of­ficials continues. The State cannot be ‘neutral’ in this matter. If it legalizes and regulates prostitution, it promotes prostitu­tion and protects the consumer not the victims. The State as regulator does not concern itself with the health and safety of the women in prostitution because the reality of women’s exploitation has disappeared and is replaced by the concept of “choice” and “sex work”.


Kidnapping, rape, and violence continue to act as midwives of this industry. They are fundamental not only for the development of markets, but also for the “manufacturing” of these “goods,” as they contribute to making them “functional” for an industry that requires a constant supply of bodies. Research has shown that between 75 and 80 per cent of prostitutes were sexually abused in their childhood (Satterfield; Chaleil). More than 90 per cent of prostitutes are controlled by a pimp (Silbert and Pines 1982 ; Barry). A study of street prostitutes in England established that 87 per cent had been victims of violence during the last 12 months and 43 per cent suffered from grave physical consequences of abuse (Raymond). An American study showed that 78 per cent of prostitutes had been victims of rape by pimps and customers, on average 49 times a year ; 49 per cent had been victims of removal and transported from one state to another and 27 per cent had been mutilated (Raymond). The average age of entrance into prostitution in the United States is 14 years (Silbert and Pines 1981; Giobbe).


The Liberalization of the Sex Industry:

In 1995 during the United Nation’s Fourth World Women’s Congress in Beijing, the principle of “forced” prostitution appeared (UN). This was the first time the term “forced prostitution” was used in a UN document. This created a special (presumed minority) category of prostitution that could be opposed without opposing the sex industry as such. Constraint/force was identified as the problem rather than the sex trade itself. The way was opened for the normalization and legalization of the industry. In 1997 at the Hague Ministerial Conference on Private International Law, when the European ministers attempted to draw up guidelines harmonizing the European Union’s fight against trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, their definition of trafficked women included only those women who were being trafficked against their will. In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) called for the economic recognition of the sex industry on the grounds that prostitutes would then benefit from workers’ rights and protections and improved working conditions that it presumed would follow. This is the first time in an international text that sex work is presented as simply a job. All these statements and agreements tend to undermine the struggle against the growing sex industry and the system of prostitution which is at its heart, for they shift opposition from the system itself, to the use of force/constraint within the system. They aim to protect only women who have not agreed to their exploitation and can prove this placing the burden of proof on already vulnerable women.


Over 30 years, we have seen an extremely profitable “sexualization” of many societies based on social domination. We have witnessed the industrialization of prostitution, of the traffic in women and children, of pornography, and of sexual tourism. This once marginal market is an increasingly central aspect of current capitalist globalization. Sex multinationals have become independent economic forces (Barry) quoted on the stock exchange. Sexual exploitation is more and more considered to be an entertainment industry (Oppermann), and prostitution a legitimate job (Kempadoo ; Dorais). The increasing size and centrality of the global sex industry helps explain why so many groups and agencies are adopting normalizing regulatory approaches in their attempts to address its harms. However, this strategy is deeply flawed. The rapidly expanding international sex market exploits above all women and children, especially members of marginal and minority groups in the Third World and in the former “socialist” countries. This “leisure industry” is based on the systematic violation of human rights, for it requires a market in commodified human beings and the complicity of pimps and clients who are prepared to buy and sell women and children. Resisting or struggling against the commodification of women and children in the sex industry becomes a central element in the struggle against capitalist globalization. Anything less is complicity. 


Humankind is witnessing the industrialization of prostitution, trafficking in women and children, pornography and sex tourism. The various sectors of the sex industry are flourishing; they are organized and managed by networks of pimps and organized crime. The liberalization of the laws governing prostitution in some countries has allowed the pimps involved in organized crime to acquire, emerging from the underground, the status of entrepreneurs and respected business partners. The criminal markets are naturally integrated into the legal markets where they are able to launder money with complete impunity. They now play a major role in the world economy. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that gross criminal product makes up 15% of world trade. The sex markets account for a sizeable share of this. It is estimated that the profits from trafficking women for the purpose of prostitution alone now generate more money than trafficking in firearms or drugs.  The sex trade industry increasingly regarded as an entertainment industry and prostitution as “legitimate work”.


My conscience burns:

So in a nutshell, sexual exploitation of women and girls have created a large industry which contributes to economy of many developing nations and which has blessing of various governments, ILO, world bank, international monetary fund, all in the name of globalization of sex industry and accepting sex industry as legitimate economic sector with pimps and traffickers as entrepreneurs and sex victims as commodities. I hold my head in shame as I write this article. I wish I never came to the world where mothers, sisters and daughters are sold forcibly in market to rent their private parts to be abused daily by many customers in the name of supporting nation’s economy. In my view, pimps and traffickers must be given death penalty after due process of law. I really don’t care whether you agree with me or not.


Liberalization of Markets for Commercial Sex Acts and Sexually Explicit Performances:

Increasingly, the various markets for commercial sex acts and sexually explicit performances are more openly advertised. Euphemisms and coded terms are used to openly advertise illegal activity. This has the effect of normalizing the acts and increasing the demand for them among men. As these commercial sex acts and performances become visible, they become more accepted. In Las Vegas, there are 120 pages of advertisements for sexual services under the heading of “entertainment services” in the yellow pages phone book. Even some mainstream newspapers accept advertisements from escort services, massage parlors, and “spas.”  With the proliferation of public advertising, people are less likely to suspect that women and girls are being coerced into the activity. In the U.S., two women trafficked from Asia to the Washington, DC area were forced into prostitution in a brothel that advertised in a local newspaper. Exploiters have been allowed to openly advertise illegal activity as long as they use euphemisms for prostitution. As commercial sexual activity is more openly advertised and laws against illegal activity are not enforced, the standards become unclear. A report on strip clubs in Canada concluded that: “There is no clear idea in Canada between judges, police officers, politicians, strip-club owners, strippers and patrons about what is and is not illegal…” The sex industry has become so liberal that the question of legalizing prostitution in Toronto may already be moot. In this kind of environment, the trafficking of women and girls is likely increase and to escape everyone’s attention.


Markets for Virgins and Young Girls:

In some regions of the world, particularly in Asia, there is a market for virgins or young girls. Virgins are an elite commodity sought by high ranking or wealthy individuals who can afford to buy a rare human commodity that is forever changed after the man is finished with her. In Cambodia, a virgin is considered the most expensive commodity. In the late 1990s, the average price for a virgin girl was US$300 to $700.68 – Being sold as a virgin is often a girl’s entry into prostitution. She may be resold as a virgin or girl with little experience a few times, but then her value falls and she joins the other thousands of girls in prostitution. In some cultures the beliefs that having sex with a young girl will cure men of sexually transmitted diseases or restore youth creates a demand for young women or girls. Men’s fear of contracting HIV also creates a market for younger women or girls because they think a younger victim is less likely to be already infected with HIV.


Root causes of sex trafficking:

As discussed earlier, sex trafficking has become part of sex industry or sex business, and as per norms of any business, the price is fixed as per demand and supply.

Analyzed as a market, human trafficking includes both supply and demand forces. On the supply side, poverty, corruption, lack of education, and the eternal human yearning for improving one’s life make people vulnerable to the lures of trafficking. We are, and must continue, making significant efforts to address these “push” factors. At the same time, we cannot ignore the demand side of the equation. Market demand – especially from male sex buyers – creates a strong profit incentive for traffickers to entrap more victims, fueling the growth of trafficking in persons. Demand is at the root of sex trafficking; to eradicate sex trafficking, demand must first be eradicated. This is because sex trafficking, prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation follow the laws of economics. Without demand for purchased sex, there would be no need for supply (women and girls) and sex trafficking would diminish rapidly. Demand fuels both domestic and international trafficking.


Demand for sex trafficking:

The transnational sex trafficking of women and children is based on a balance between the supply of victims from sending countries and the demand for victims in receiving countries. Sending countries are those from which victims can be relatively easily recruited, usually with false promises of jobs. Receiving or destination countries are those with sex industries that create the demand for victims. Where prostitution is flourishing, pimps cannot recruit enough local women to fill up the brothels, so they have to bring in victims from other places. Until recently, the supply side of trafficking and the conditions in sending countries have received most of the attention of researchers, NGOs, and policy makers, and little attention was paid to the demand side of trafficking. The crucial factor in determining where trafficking will occur is the presence and activity of traffickers, pimps, and collaborating officials running criminal operations. Poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities are compelling factors that facilitate the ease with which traffickers recruit women, but they are not the sole cause of trafficking. Many regions of the world are poor and chaotic, but not every region becomes a center for the recruitment or exploitation of women and children. Trafficking occurs because criminals take advantage of poverty, unemployment, and a desire for better opportunities. To date, discussion of the “demand side” of sex trafficking has focused on the men who purchase sex acts. This report will expand the conceptualization of “the demand” to include two additional components: the exploiters – the traffickers and pimps – and the state. The purpose is to bring a better understanding to the factors that lead to the exploitation and sexual enslavement of women and children around the world.  A focus on the demand side of sex trafficking means making men personally responsible and accountable for their behavior that contributes to the sex trade. An expansion of the conceptualization of the demand for victims of sex trafficking calls for accountability from governments and law enforcement agencies to suppress the markets in which women and children are bought and sold for sex acts and curtail the means by which traffickers and pimps recruit, transport, and exploit women and children . Although trafficking is usually associated with poverty, it is often the wealthier countries that create the demand for victims for their sex industries. To fully understand and combat sex trafficking, it is important to identify what is meant by “the demand” and to define and characterize each component so that policies and laws can be created to address it. Demand fuels the purchase of human beings for sex. Demand is comprised of a culture that tolerates or promotes sexual exploitation; men who buy commercial sex; exploiters who make up the sex industry; and states that are complicit in providing safe haven for pimps and traffickers either as source or destination countries. There are four components that make-up the demand:

1) The men who buy commercial sex acts,

2) The exploiters who make up the sex industry,

 3) The states that are destination countries, and

 4) The culture that tolerates or promotes sexual exploitation. 


1. The Men (vide supra):

Typically, when prostitution and sex trafficking are discussed, the focus is on the women and children victims. The men who purchase the sex acts are usually faceless and nameless. The men, the buyers of commercial sex acts, are the ultimate consumers of trafficked and prostituted women and children. They use them for entertainment, sexual gratification, and acts of violence. Research on men who purchase sex acts has found that many of the assumptions we make about them are myths. Seldom are the men lonely or have sexually unsatisfying relationships. In fact, men who purchase sex acts are more likely to have more sexual partners than those who do not purchase sex acts. They often report that they are satisfied with their wives or partners. They say that they are searching for more – sex acts that their wives will not do or the excitement that comes with the hunt for a woman they can buy for a short time. They are seeking sex without relationship responsibilities. Men who purchase sex acts do not respect women, nor do they want to respect women. They are seeking control and sex in contexts in which they are not required to be polite or nice, and where they can humiliate, degrade, and hurt the woman or child, if they want.


2. The Exploiters (vide supra):

The exploiters, including traffickers, pimps, and brothel owners make-up what is known as the sex industry. Traffickers and organized crime groups are the perpetrators that have received most of the attention in discussions about the sex trafficking. They operate the business of sexual exploitation. They make money from the sale of sex as a commodity. The exploiters include individual perpetrators, organized crime networks, and corrupt officials. Secondary profiteers include hotels, restaurants, taxi services, and other businesses that provide support services to the sex industry.


3. The State:

By tolerating or legalizing prostitution, the state, at least passively, is contributing to the demand for victims. The more states regulate prostitution and derive tax revenue from it, the more actively they become part of the demand for victims. If we consider that the demand is the driving force of trafficking, it is important to analyze the destination countries’ laws and policies. Officials in destination countries do not want to admit responsibility for the problem of sex trafficking or be held accountable for creating the demand for victims. In destination countries, strategies are often devised to protect the sex industries that generate millions, even billions, of dollars per year for the economy. When prostitution is legal, governments expect to collect tax revenue. Where prostitution is illegal, criminals, organized crime groups and corrupt officials profit. In the destination countries, exploiters exert pressure on the lawmakers and officials to create conditions that allow them to operate. They use power and influence to shape laws and policies that maintain the flow of women to their sex industries. They do this through the normalization of prostitution.


4. The Culture:

The culture, particular mass media, is playing a large role in normalizing prostitution by portraying prostitution as glamorous, empowering, or a fast, easy way to make money. The Internet and other types of new information and communications technologies are increasing the global sexual exploitation of women and children. Sex industry sites on the Internet are popular and highly profitable. The growth and expansion of the sex industry is closely intertwined with new technologies. Although trafficking for prostitution is widely recognized, trafficking of women and children for the production of pornography receives less attention. Increasingly, the pornographers are traveling to poor countries where they can abuse and exploit women and children with fewer risks. They use new information technologies to transmit the live images around the world.


Male demand for a supply of women and children is the root cause of prostitution and trafficking. Gender inequality, globalization, poverty, racism, migration and the collapse of women’s economic stability are global factors, which create the conditions in which women are driven into the sex industry. The majority of trafficked persons are women and girls, in particular from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Multiple forms of discrimination and conditions of disadvantage contribute to the vulnerability of women and girls driven into prostitution. Prostitution and the sex industry promote the myth that male sexuality must be satisfied by a supply of women and children who can be bought. This demands the creation of a group of women who are legitimate targets for rape and sexual exploitation. Male abusers can act with impunity because they know that women in prostitution will not be believed or taken seriously by the criminal justice system.


One overriding factor in the proliferation of sex trafficking is the fundamental belief that the women and girls are expendable. In societies where women and girls are undervalued or not valued at all in comparison to men, women are at greater risk for being abused, trafficked, and coerced into sex slavery. If women experience improved economic and social status, a large part of trafficking would be eradicated.


One reason for the proliferation of sex trafficking is that in many parts of the world there is little or no stigma attached to purchasing sexual favors for money, and prostitution is considered a victimless crime. Because women and girls are culturally and socially devalued in so many societies, there is little conflict involved with the purchasing of women and girls for prostitution. Further, few realize the explicit connection between the commercial sex trade, the trafficking of women and girls, and the slave trade. In western society in particular, there is a commonly held perception that women enter into the commercial sex trade by choice. However, for the majority of women in the sex trade, and specifically in the case of trafficked women and girls who are coerced or forced into servitude, this is simply not true.


In addition, the sex tourism business—that is the practice of traveling or vacationing for the specific purpose of having sex – is a billion dollar industry that encourages the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Many sex tours explicitly feature young girls because the tours are marketed specifically to pedophiles who prey on young children and to men who believe that having sex with virgins or young girls will cure sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Often, these men spread HIV and other STDs to their young victims and create localized disease epidemics.


We need to urge all governments, NGOs, and faith communities to focus on reducing the demand for victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. All the components of the demand need to be penalized – the men who purchase sex acts, the traffickers, the pimps, and others who profit, states that fund deceptive messages and act as pimp, and the culture that lies about the nature of prostitution.


Gender inequality vis-à-vis sex trafficking;

Gender inequality is inherent in the promotion and normalization of prostitution. Enshrined within state legislation, men’s right to buy women is a direct contradiction to a society based on gender equality. Promoting the idea that some women must be available for sale to satisfy men’s sexual needs is to create a group of women who are excluded from the protection afforded under national and international human rights law. Prostitution and trafficking promotes sexism and racism as men are encouraged to see women from poorer foreign countries as less, as “other” and as legitimate targets for exploitation. Maiti Nepal foundation has rescued 12,000 Nepali girls and young women from sex trafficking, many of them were sold across the border to brothels in India. The stories I heard were chilling; trafficked girls were forced to service as many as 35 men a day. Girls as young as 13 were living with full-blown AIDS. Those who resisted were tortured and punished. However, poverty was the lowest common denominator in this equation. But the real push factor to the sex trafficking trade was gender inequality. Girls continue to be uneducated in the villages of Nepal, and sexual exploitation persists as men try to exert their power over these impoverished, imprisoned girls. I realized that the problem was not about rich versus poor, or about developed versus developing countries. The real issue was global: How women are continually treated as second rate. Sex trafficking may not be a problem in your part of the world, but gender inequality persists everywhere.


Corruption and sex trafficking:

Corruption is increasingly cited as a key reason for why trafficking continues and traffickers remain free. Corruption both facilitates trafficking and feeds the flow of people by destabilizing democracies, weakening a country’s rule of law and stalling a nation’s development. At the same time, trafficking, which can involve global or regional networks, contributes to a country’s corruption. To function, trafficking relies on pay-offs to police, judges and ministers at all levels. Broader attention needs to be paid to this nexus between corruption and human trafficking.


Corruption plays a role in every stage of the human trafficking process right from recruitment, transport and exploitation. Each phase is vulnerable to corruption and enables victimization. Many experts indicate that if it were not for corruption, human trafficking would not have expanded so rapidly in the wake of globalization. Corruption allows the trafficking process to remain protected from prosecution and facilitates the victimization of innocent people. Corruption assists the victim’s movements within a country and across borders. When trafficking is discovered, corruption results in laws and judicial processes being disregarded. Corruption undoes institutional safeguards, rooted in basic human rights and other international norms, which should legally protect the victim. Corruption also helps criminals and their accomplices to hide the profits generated by human trafficking. 


In recent decades, the growth of public sector corruption has correlated closely with the rise in human trafficking. Numerous countries that are ranked poorly on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index also tend to be among the largest source countries for human trafficking victims, including Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, the Philippines and Pakistan. Strong correlations have been found between a country’s tolerance towards trafficking (both within and across its borders) and its own level of public sector corruption. Why India has become a hub of child prostitution?  Besides gender inequality, it is the widespread corruption that is responsible for ancient civilization to become uncivilized.


Corruption of government officials and police is necessary for trafficking and exploitation of large numbers of women and children. In sending countries, large-scale operations require the collaboration of officials to obtain travel documents and facilitate the exit of women from the country. In destination countries, corruption is an enabler for prostitution and trafficking. The operation of brothels requires the collaboration of officials and police, who must be willing to ignore or work with pimps and traffickers. Prostitution operations depend on attracting men. Pimps and brothel owners have to advertise to men that women and children are available for commercial sex acts. Officials have to ignore this blatant advertising. I believe that only by going to the root causes, which are corruption and the demand in destination countries, will we end the trafficking of women and children.


Actors that have roles in victimizing sex trafficked person:

Some experts have argued that a trafficked person suffers four forms of victimization on the part of different actors – each of which is facilitated by corruption. Victimization can occur by:

1. Corrupt officials:

These individuals may lead trafficking networks, use trafficked prostitutes, or employ cheap domestic help who have been trafficked;

2. Private or individual groups:

These groups include criminals, their families, friends and extended networks;

3. The media:

While the media plays an important role in society, practices of showing trafficked persons without protecting their identities leads to their further exploitation. In contrast, some media outlets may obscure stories about trafficking, due to connections with the networks involved.

4. States and international organizations:

 When officials and staff in these bodies do not behave with ethics and integrity, they can lead to distorted actions. This can include providing support to corrupt officials, treating victims as criminals, and not adequately educating their staff and officers about how to handle trafficking victims.

In looking at how victimization occurs by these different actors, the role and roots of corruption become clearer. Drawing on this knowledge is essential if policies are to effectively target trafficking and corruption simultaneously.


Poverty and sex trafficking:

There is evidence to suggest that incidence of human trafficking high in poverty-stricken areas. It also implies, on some level, that poverty can be equated with a lack of virtue or a loss of humanity. It is sad but true that poor man’s good looking wife is hunted by rich man for sexual exploitation. Often, trafficked women are sold for paltry sum into slavery by their parents, husbands or close family members. It’s an economics decision. These are often the poorest people in the country, living without basic services like electricity, clean water and certainly no education for young girls. The family’s poor, and they can’t afford to keep raising a girl. Maybe they have a large debt to pay off. They sell their daughter to pay off the debt, or maybe a recruiter comes and promises a job in a big city. Maybe the family knows this means prostitution, maybe they don’t. Maybe they think that their daughter will actually be better off. The point is, when a girl comes from a very poor family, she’s at a high risk of being trafficked. It’s just too easy for recruiters to convince, or bribe, or blackmail, or outright kidnap her and funnel her into the sex trade. However, blaming poverty alone for human trafficking is disheartening; it’s also misleading and inaccurate. There may be a correlation between the two phenomena, and poverty almost certainly increases an individual’s vulnerability to trafficking, but so many other factors come into play too. For example, the approach taken by law enforcement authorities to the issue; the legislative measures taken by national governments; global gender inequalities; the level of access to education; falling in love with the wrong guy… Most of these things can be shaped and influenced, and it’s up to us to do so. Many parents in the countryside of Africa, Asia and South America will sell one of their children to traffickers so that they can purchase food to feed their other children. They [unnecessarily] sacrifice one for the sake of many. Being aware of this, human traffickers flock to poverty-stricken areas and exploit the poor for their own malicious benefit. Unfortunately, it’s a story repeated all throughout the world in some of the most poverty-stricken areas.  If 26% of the world’s population (7 billion) still lives in extreme poverty, that means that 1.8 billion of the world’s poor are at high risk for human trafficking.  Poverty is a root cause of international human trafficking, according to analysis conducted by the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (ITEMP).


Contributing factors:
One major element fueling human trafficking is pornography (vide infra). It is like a drug fueling sexual addiction and it is never satisfied. The porn high wears off, then demands a stronger high, then yet a stronger high – a process which often leads to acting out the fantasies. Other factors that contribute to human trafficking include illegal immigration, terrorist activity, gang activity and Internet abuse.


Are women/girls of ethnic/racial minorities more vulnerable to sex trafficking?

Any political economic analysis of prostitution and trafficking in women and children must take into account structural discrimination, uneven development, and the hierarchical relationships between imperialist and dependent countries, and between men and women. In recent years under the impact of structural adjustment and economic liberalization policies in numerous countries of the Third World, as well as in the ex-USSR and Eastern Europe, women and children have become “new raw resources” within the framework of national and international business development. Capitalist globalization is more and more characterized by a feminization of migration (Santos). Women of ethnic minorities and other relatively powerless groups are particularly exploited. So, the internal traffic of Thai females consists mostly of 12-16 year olds from hill tribes of the North and the Northeast. In Taiwan, 40 per cent of young prostitutes in the main red light district are aboriginal girls (Barry 139). At the world level, the customers of the North abuse women of the South and of the East as well as local women from disadvantaged groups. From an economic point of view, these “goods” are doubly valuable because bodies are both a good and a service. More precisely, we have seen a commodification not only of the body, but also of women and children as human beings. This has led many to see this trafficking in women and children as a form of slavery (CATW).


Factors Promoting Sex Trafficking:

Many factors are implicated in the rise of sex trafficking worldwide. Among the more influential are:

1. Gender-based social and economic inequality in all areas of the globe (United Nations, 1995), assuring a supply of women, especially from developing and new independent states (NIS) in Eastern Europe.

2. Male demand for the sex of prostitution and related sexual entertainment (Barry, 1995; Thanh-Dam Truong, 1990; Bishop and Robinson, 1998: 67).

3.Macro-economic policies, promoted by international lending organizations that mandate “structural adjustments” in many developing regions of the world, pushing certain countries (e.g. the Philippines) to export women for labor, making them vulnerable to trafficking; or to develop economies based on tourism (e.g. Thailand), including sex tourism (Daguno, 1998; Bishop and Robinson, 1998).

4. Expansion of transnational sex industries and increasingly sophisticated predatory recruitment techniques and networks (Kaihla, 1991; Gutner and Corben, 1996; Vatikiotis, 1995).

5. Globalization of capital and information technology (Santos, 1999; Hughes, 1999).

6. Armed conflict, military occupation and concentration of military and militia bases in various parts of the world (Sturdevant and Stoltzfus, 1992; Moon, 1997).


The interplay of demand and supply in commercial sex:

There are different means through which demand and supply are found to influence each other. First, demand can create its own supply. The picture below shows how demand can create its own supply.


There are situations in which, the supply can create its own demand within the setup of commercial sex work. The picture below shows how supply can create its own demand.


Would legalizing prostitution reduce sex trafficking or worsen sex trafficking:

Legalization promotes the sex industry as a legitimate business and an acceptable career for girls and women. Pimps can ensure the supply of women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation with the approval of the State. Legalization removes every legal impediment to pimping, procuring and brothels. Traffickers can use work permits to bring foreign women into the prostitution industry, masking the fact that women have been trafficked, by coaching them to describe themselves as independent “ migrant sex workers.” Legalization promotes the expansion of all forms of sexual exploitation of both children and adult women: including tabletop dancing, bondage and discipline centers, peep shows, phone sex, and pornography. Claims that legalization is necessary to safeguard the health of women are used to disguise the reality that it is the health and safety of the customer which the industry seeks to protect. There are no “safe zones” for women in the sex industry. When legal barriers disappear so too do the social and ethical barriers to treating women as sexual merchandise. Legalization of prostitution sends the message to new generations of men and boys that women are sexual commodities and that prostitution is harmless fun. However, many people believe the sex trade will exist regardless of its lawfulness and should therefore be made legal, as regulation will bring it within government control, helping to minimize the negative effects of sex work like exploitation, drug addiction and physical abuse. In most circumstances, this logic is sound. If the illegality of something does not curb behaviour, the effective harm reduction strategy may be to integrate that behaviour into the legal system. However, with regards to sex work, this could produce more harm than good.


Those to favor legalization of commercial sex would argue as follows:

No law has ever succeeded in stopping prostitution.  Prostitution is the provision of sexual services for negotiated payment between consenting adults. So defined, prostitution is a service industry like any other in which people exchange skills for money or other reward. Non-consenting adults and all children forced into sexual activity (commercial or otherwise) deserve the full protection of the law and perpetrators deserve full punishment by the law. Prostitution laws are also a violation of the right of individual privacy because they impose penal sanctions for the private sexual conduct of consenting adults. Whether a person chooses to engage in sexual activity for purposes of recreation, or in exchange for something of value, is a matter of individual choice, not for governmental interference. We need to distinguish between victims and independent sex workers, and clients will not play a role as a potential source of information on trafficking practices. They argue that the legalization of prostitution will improve working and safety conditions for sex workers, allowing sex businesses to recruit among domestic women who choose prostitution as their free choice of occupation. This, in turn, makes resorting to trafficked women less attractive (Bureau of the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking 2005; Segrave 2009; Limoncelli 2009). The view that the legalization of prostitution may reduce trafficking is typically held by those who believe that the choice to sell one’s sexual services for money need not always be forced, but can be a voluntary occupational choice. Criminalizing the sex industry creates ideal conditions for rampant exploitation and abuse of sex workers. It is believed that trafficking in women, coercion and exploitation can only be stopped if the existence of prostitution is recognized, and the legal and social rights of prostitutes are guaranteed. Prohibition gives cover to traffickers. It allows them to use the laws against prostitution to intimidate, especially when it comes to children. Women and girls being held against their will are afraid to go to police because they will be treated as criminals. Criminalization forces prostitution into the underworld. Legalization would bring it into the open, where abuses such as trafficking and under-age prostitution can be more easily tackled. Brothels would develop reputations worth protecting.


Those who oppose legalization of commercial sex would argue as follows:

Sex trafficking would not exist without the demand for commercial sex flourishing around the world. Prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanizing and fuels trafficking in persons. Those who call for combating prostitution with the force of the law typically subscribe to the belief that prostitution is almost always forced and rarely truly voluntary. Prostitution and related activities—including pimping and patronizing or maintaining brothels—encourage the growth of modern-day slavery by providing a façade behind which traffickers for sexual exploitation operate. Where prostitution is tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery. Few women seek out or choose to be in prostitution, and most are desperate to leave it.  Most victims of international human trafficking are women and girls. The vast majority end up being sexually exploited through prostitution (UNODC 2006). Many authors therefore believe that trafficking is caused by prostitution and combating prostitution with the force of the law would reduce trafficking (Outshoorn 2005). For example, Hughes (2000: 651) maintains that “evidence seems to show that legalized sex industries actually result in increased trafficking to meet the demand for women to be used in the legal sex industries.” Farley (2009: 313) suggests that “wherever prostitution is legalized, trafficking to sex industry marketplaces in that region increases.” In its Trafficking in Persons report, the U.S. State Department (2007: 27) states the official U.S. Government position is “that prostitution is inherently harmful & dehumanizing and fuels trafficking in persons.” The idea that combating human trafficking requires combating prostitution is, in fact, anything but new. As Outshoorn (2005: 142) points out, the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons from 1949 had already called on all states to suppress prostitution. “You don’t legalize organized rape. You just don’t do that. What we have found is that legalization has caused an increase in the trafficking into the area where the legalization exists. The state then becomes the pimp… Legalizing prostitution creates more demand and mainstreams abuse of women and children… It also makes it difficult to hold traffickers accountable.”


Summary of arguments for not legalizing prostitution:

1. Legalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.

 Legalization of the sex industry also converts brothels, sex clubs, massage parlors and other sites of prostitution activities into legitimate venues where commercial sexual acts are allowed to flourish legally with few restraints. No woman should be punished for her own exploitation but States should never decriminalize pimps, buyers, procurers, brothels or other sex establishments.


2. Legalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.

Legalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. In the one year since lifting the ban on brothels in the Netherlands, NGOs report that there has been an increase of victims of trafficking.  In January, 2002, prostitution in Germany was fully established as a legitimate job after years of being legalized in so-called tolerance zones. Promotion of prostitution, pimping and brothels are now legal in Germany. As early as 1993, after the first steps towards legalization had been taken, it was recognized (even by pro-prostitution advocates) that 75 per cent of the women in Germany’s prostitution industry were foreigners from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and other countries in South America (Altink, 1993: 33). After the fall of the Berlin wall, brothel owners reported that 9 out of every 10 women in the German sex industry were from Eastern Europe (Altink, 1993: 43) and other former Soviet countries. The sheer volume of foreign women who are in the prostitution industry in Germany, by some NGO estimates now up to 85 per cent, casts further doubt on the fact that these numbers of women could have entered Germany without facilitation. As in the Netherlands, NGOs report that most of the foreign women have been trafficked into Germany since it is almost impossible for poor women to facilitate their own migration, underwrite the costs of travel and travel documents, and set themselves up in business without outside help. The link between legalization of prostitution and trafficking in Australia was recognized in the U.S. State Department’s 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In the country report on Australia, it was noted that in the State of Victoria which legalized prostitution in the 1980s, trafficking in East Asian women for the sex trade is a growing problem in Australia.  


3. Legalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry. It expands it.

Contrary to claims that legalization and decriminalization would regulate the expansion of the sex industry and bring it under control, the sex industry now accounts for 5 percent of the Netherlands economy (Daley, 2001: 4). Legalization of prostitution in the State of Victoria, Australia, has led to massive expansion of the sex industry. Whereas there were 40 legal brothels in Victoria in 1989, in 1999 there were 94, along with 84 escort services. Other forms of sexual exploitation, such as tabletop dancing, bondage and discipline centers, peep shows, phone sex, and pornography have all developed in much more profitable ways than before (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). Brothels in Switzerland have doubled several years after partial legalization of prostitution. Most of these brothels go untaxed, and many are illegal. Switzerland had the highest brothel density of any country in Europe, with residents feeling overrun with prostitution venues, as well as experiencing constant encroachment into areas not zoned for prostitution activities.


4. Legalization of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution.

Legalization was supposed to get prostituted women off the street. Many women don’t want to register and undergo health checks, as required by law in certain countries legalizing prostitution, so legalization often drives them into street prostitution. And many women choose street prostitution because they want to avoid being controlled and exploited by the new sex businessmen. The argument that legalization was supposed to take the criminal elements out of sex businesses by strict regulation of the industry has failed. The real growth in prostitution in Australia since legalization took effect has been in the illegal sector. Since the onset of legalization in Victoria, brothels have tripled in number and expanded in size; the vast majority having no licenses but advertising and operating with impunity (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). In New South Wales, brothels were decriminalized in 1995. In 1999, the numbers of brothels in Sydney had increased exponentially to 400-500. The vast majority have no license to operate.


5. Legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex industry increases child prostitution.

Another argument for legalizing prostitution was that it would help end child prostitution. In reality, however, child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001). Child prostitution has dramatically risen in Victoria compared to other Australian states where prostitution has not been legalized. Of all the states and territories in Australia, the highest number of reported incidences of child prostitution came from Victoria. In a 1998 study undertaken by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) who conducted research for the Australian National Inquiry on Child Prostitution, there was increased evidence of organized commercial exploitation of children.


6. Legalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) has conducted 2 major studies on sex trafficking and prostitution, interviewing almost 200 victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In these studies, women in prostitution indicated that prostitution establishments did little to protect them, regardless of whether they were in legal or illegal establishments. The only time they protect anyone is to protect the customers. In a CATW 5-country study that interviewed 146 victims of international trafficking and local prostitution, 80% of all women interviewed suffered physical violence from pimps and buyers, and endured similar and multiple health effects from the violence and sexual exploitation (Raymond et al: 2002). The violence that women were subjected to was an intrinsic part of the prostitution and sexual exploitation. Pimps used violence for many different reasons and purposes. Violence was used to initiate some women into prostitution and to break them down so that they would do the sexual acts. After initiation, at every step of the way, violence was used for sexual gratification of the pimps, as a form of punishment, to threaten and intimidate women, to exert the pimp’s dominance, to exact compliance, to punish women for alleged violations, to humiliate women, and to isolate and confine women.  Of the women who did report that sex establishments gave some protection, they qualified it by pointing out that no protector was ever in the room with them, where anything could occur. CATW’s studies found that even surveillance cameras in prostitution establishments are used to protect the establishment. Protection of the women from abuse is of secondary or no importance.


7. Legalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings.

With the advent of legalization in countries that have decriminalized the sex industry, many men who would not risk buying women for sex now see prostitution as acceptable. “When the legal barriers disappear, so too do the social and ethical barriers to treating women as sexual commodities”. Legalization of prostitution sends the message to new generations of men and boys that women are sexual commodities and that prostitution is harmless fun. As men have an excess of sexual services that are offered to them, women must compete to provide services by engaging in anal sex, sex without condoms, bondage and domination and other proclivities demanded by the clients. Once prostitution is legalized, all holds are barred. Women’s reproductive capacities are sellable products. For example, a whole new group of clients find pregnancy a sexual turn-on and demand breast milk in their sexual encounters with pregnant women. Specialty brothels are provided for disabled men, and State-employed caretakers who are mostly women must take these men to the brothels if they wish to go (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). Advertisements line the highways of Victoria offering women as objects for sexual use and teaching new generations of men and boys to treat women as subordinates. Businessmen are encouraged to hold their corporate meetings in these clubs where owners supply naked women on the table at tea breaks and lunchtime.


8. Legalization of prostitution does not promote women’s health.

A legalized system of prostitution that mandates health checks and certification only for women and not for clients is blatantly discriminatory to women. Women only health checks make no public health sense because monitoring prostituted women does not protect them from HIV/AIDS or STDs, since male clients can and do originally transmit disease to the women. It is argued that legalized brothels or other controlled prostitution establishments protect women through enforceable condom policies. In one of CATW’s studies, U.S. women in prostitution interviewed reported the following: 47% stated that men expected sex without a condom; 73% reported that men offered to pay more for sex without a condom; 45% of women said they were abused if they insisted that men use condoms. Some women said that certain establishments may have rules that men wear condoms but, in reality, men still try to have sex without them. One woman stated: It’s regulation to wear a condom at the sauna, but negotiable between parties on the side. Most guys expected blow jobs without a condom (Raymond and Hughes: 2001). In reality, the enforcement of condom policy was left to the individual women in prostitution, and the offer of extra money was an insistent pressure.  Many factors militate against condom use: the need of women to make money; older women’s decline in attractiveness to men; competition from places that do not require condoms; pimp pressure on women to have sex with no condom for more money; money needed for a drug habit or to pay off the pimp; and the general lack of control that prostituted women have over their bodies in prostitution venues.


9. Legalization of prostitution does not enhance women’s choice.

Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be prostitutes. Rather, such choices are better termed survival strategies. Rather than consent, a prostituted woman more accurately complies to the only options available to her. Her compliance is required by the very fact of having to adapt to conditions of inequality that are set by the customer who pays her to do what he wants her to do. Most of the women interviewed in CATW studies reported that choice in entering the sex industry could only be discussed in the context of the lack of other options. Most emphasized that women in prostitution had few other options. Many spoke about prostitution as the last option, or as an involuntary way of making ends meet. 72 % of the social service providers that CATW interviewed did not believe that women voluntarily choose to enter the sex industry (Raymond and Hughes: 2001). The distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution is precisely what the sex industry is promoting because it will give the industry more security and legal stability if these distinctions can be utilized to legalize prostitution, pimping and brothels. Women who bring charges against pimps and perpetrators will bear the burden of proving that they were forced. How will marginalized women ever be able to prove coercion? If prostituted women must prove that force was used in recruitment or in their working conditions, very few women in prostitution will have legal recourse and very few offenders will be prosecuted. Women in prostitution must continually lie about their lives, their bodies, and their sexual responses. Lying is part of the job definition when the customer asks, did you enjoy it? The very edifice of prostitution is built on the lie that women like it. Some prostitution survivors have stated that it took them years after leaving prostitution to acknowledge that prostitution wasn’t a free choice because to deny their own capacity to choose was to deny themselves. There is no doubt that a small number of women say they choose to be in prostitution, especially in public contexts orchestrated by the sex industry.  When a woman remains in an abusive relationship with a partner who batters her, or even when she defends his actions, concerned people don’t say she is there voluntarily. They recognize the complexity of her compliance. Like battered women, women in prostitution often deny their abuse if provided with no meaningful alternatives. So the issue is complexity of compliance for prostituted women/girls and not merely a matter of voluntary choice.


10. Women in systems of prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized.

In a 5-country study on sex trafficking done by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and funded by the Ford Foundation, most of the 146 women interviewed strongly stated that prostitution should not be legalized and considered legitimate work, warning that legalization would create more risks and harm for women from already violent customer and pimps (Raymond et al, 2002). They all say that “It’s not a profession. It is humiliation and violence from the men’s side”.


Prostitution violates the right to physical and moral integrity by the alienation of women’s sexuality that is appropriated, debased and reduced to a commodity to be bought and sold. It violates the prohibition of torture and of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment because clients’ acts and practices of sexual “entertainment” and pornography are acts of power and violence over the female body. It violates the right to liberty and security, and the prohibition of slavery, of forced labor and of trafficking in persons because millions of women and girls all over the world are held in sexual slavery to meet the demand of even more millions of male buyers of sex, and to generate profits for the capitalists of sex. It violates the right to enjoy the highest standard of physical and mental health because violence, disease, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and AIDS stalk, presenting constant and grave risks for women and girls in prostitution, and militating against a healthy sense of and relationship with their own bodies. Prostitution will happen anyway but legalization and regulation will help stem the abuses. Using the same logic, slavery (which still exists in many places) should be legalized so underground slaves can be given some measure of human rights. There are not enough women in your country who have been raped as a child, are homeless, or have a drug addiction, to be prostitutes, because in reality these are the women who end up in this situation. In this case, you have to deceive or kidnap women and children from other countries, take their passport, beat them up and put them into sex slavery. The concept that ‘mom’s job’ is having sex with strangers sets the wrong tone for family life. It hurts the woman; it hurts the children; that is an exploitative situation. If prostitution is legal it affords men the ‘excuse’ to go find sex outside of marriage, when things in the marriage are difficult. That does nothing to enhance the relationship between a man and a woman. Prostitution runs opposite to what relationships are supposed to be. Intimacy and love are not involved; it’s just a purely physical act. It lowers both people to the lowest common denominator. We no longer remain human and humane but become animals who have random sex on the road.


Today’s appeasers fail to understand that legalizing prostitution always increases illegal prostitution. They fail to understand that the emotional capture of victims by brutal and experienced traffickers makes it certain that the victims will almost never feel free to testify about the lives they are forced to endure. They fail to understand that ‘Pretty Woman’ story is a lie, that the Academy Award electors who awarded Oscar to the profoundly infamous song ‘It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp’ provide cover and protection for the real world of slavery. The Hollywood and Bollywood movies indirectly promote sex trafficking by glamorizing romance between a poor pretty woman and a rich gentleman. No, life is not as simple as portrayed in movies. In reality, the poor pretty woman will be sexually exploited by rich gentleman and thrown into the dark world of sex industry because that rich gentleman is nothing but a pimp masquerading as a boyfriend.


A study at Courant Research Centre investigated the impact of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows. According to economic theory, there are two opposing effects of unknown magnitude. The scale effect of legalizing prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking, while the substitution effect reduces demand for trafficked women as legal prostitutes are favored over trafficked ones. The empirical analysis for a cross-section of up to 150 countries showed that the scale effect dominates the substitution effect. On average, legalized prostitution increases human trafficking inflows.    


 No country has successfully legalized prostitution without substantial growth of human trafficking, organized crime, and underage prostitution. The National Dutch Police estimated that between 50–90 per cent of women in the legal brothels in Holland were working involuntarily. The sex trade is a very lucrative industry that perpetuates gender inequalities that will not be solved if prostitution is legalized. The sex trade will not become safer or easier to regulate. Legalization will only validate women (primarily) as commodities, which dehumanizes sexual interactions. Furthermore, legalization could perpetuate socioeconomic inequalities. For example, people applying for welfare are usually expected to complete an in-depth job search before they will be awarded government aid. In 2002, the German government legalized prostitution as a legitimate profession. In 2005, women applying for welfare in Germany who were having difficulty finding work in traditional industries were being advised to apply to brothels. If they refused, benefits could be denied. In this circumstance, legalized prostitution could actually result in an influx of impoverished women participating in the sex trade. Of course, this would be contrary to the legalization objective, which is to minimize women’s non-consensual participation in the industry. Sadly, the probability that financially disadvantaged women will be forced to sell sex as a means for providing for themselves and their families will likely increase.


So what is the solution? If prostitution isn’t legalized and regulated, then sex trade workers will be more susceptible to violence, disease and drug addiction. If it is, the government is responsible for propagating inequity with little evidence the policy will be socially beneficial.


Nordic model:

There are two major consequences of the legalization of prostitution. First, the institutional officialization (legalization) of sex markets strengthens the activities of organized pimping and organized crime. Secondly, such strengthening, accompanied by a significant increase in prostitution-related activities and in trafficking, brings with it a deterioration not only in the general condition of women and children, but also, in particular, that of prostituted people and the victims of trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. While the total decriminalization of prostitution – equivalent of the law of the jungle – is not regarded favorably by any country, the legalization of prostitution brings with it a number of problems that I have already examined. The alternative is the policy adopted by Sweden, which criminalizes those who benefit from prostitution – the pimps and the customers – and decriminalizes the activities of the prostituted people, who are regarded as the prey and the victims of organized pimping. So there is a third option: the Nordic model. The Nordic model decriminalizes the sale of sex but criminalizes the act of buying sex. Across Scandinavia, countries including Sweden, Norway and Iceland have implemented this policy and seen positive results. By making the demand for paid sex illegal without punishing sex workers, the law recognizes prostitution as a form of exploitation and places the participation risk of hefty fines, incarceration and public shame on the buyer, not the seller, of sex. This legislation, in tandem with subsidized housing, job training programs and drug rehabilitation, has helped many women exit the industry. Since the law was implemented in 1999, street prostitution [in Sweden] has decreased by 50 per cent with no increase in indoor prostitution. Also, there’s been a “considerable decline of human trafficking into Sweden.


Criminalizing the purchase of sexual acts, such as has been proven to work in the Nordic European states, will help tackle sex trafficking in a number of ways:

 1. It gives a clear message that the exploitation of women is unacceptable.

2. It destroys the market for sex trafficking.

3. It allows the prosecution service to use the testimony of punters to prosecute sex traffickers and so takes the burden of truth away from the sex trafficking survivor.

4. It makes those causing harm accountable for their actions.

5. It decriminalizes those who sell sex acts whilst offering support services to exit prostitution.


Success of Nordic model:

The government of Sweden published an evaluation of the law’s first ten years and how it has actually worked in practice. The findings are strikingly positive: street prostitution has been cut in half; there is no evidence that the reduction in street prostitution has led to an increase in prostitution elsewhere, whether indoors or on the Internet. The ban has had a chilling effect on traffickers who find Sweden an unattractive market to sell women and children for sex. Police now confirm it works well and has had a deterrent effect on other organizers and promoters of prostitution. Sweden appears to be the only country in Europe where prostitution and sex trafficking has not increased. The Swedish results should be contrasted to neighboring countries such as Denmark where there are no legal prohibitions against the purchase of persons in prostitution. Denmark has a smaller population than Sweden (roughly 5.5 million to Sweden’s 9 million), yet the scale of street prostitution in Denmark is three times higher than in Sweden. The failure of the legalization model in Europe helped the Swedish model to become the Nordic model in 2009 when Norway outlawed the purchase of women and children for sexual activities. One year after the Norwegian law came into force, a Bergen municipality survey estimated that the number of women in street prostitution had decreased by 20 percent with indoor prostitution also down by 16 percent. Bergen police report that advertisements for sexual activities have dropped 60 percent. The success of the Nordic model is not so much in penalizing the men (the penalties are modest) as in removing the invisibility of men who are outed when they get caught. This, in turn, makes it less appealing for pimps and traffickers to set up shop in countries where the customer base fears the loss of its anonymity and is declining. Legalization of prostitution is a failed policy in practice. The prostitution policy tide is turning from legalization of prostitution to targeting the demand for prostitution without penalizing the victims. Countries who want to be effective in the fight against trafficking and not havens of sexual exploitation are beginning to understand that they cannot sanction pimps as legitimate sexual entrepreneurs and must take legal action against the buyers.


Arrest johns and not prostitutes:

Most johns (men who buy sex) know that they cause harm when they support the sex trade, but they continue to buy sex because they face very few consequences. Researcher has conducted a study that interviewed 113 johns in Chicago, and only 7 percent of those interviewed had ever been arrested for buying sex. When men are targeted by law enforcement it’s called a “reverse sting.” Why is it a reversal to arrest purchasers?  It’s a reversal for our culture because purchasers are men, and as a society we have always blamed women for prostitution. This needs to change. If there were no demand, there would be no prostitution. The aim is to criminalize Johns for buying sex and decriminalizing prostituted women who want to get out of the industry. Several studies have concluded that trafficking increases in countries where prostitution is legalized, so giving sex workers ‘rights’ comes at the expense of the trafficking victims that are funneled into the country to fill demand. The goal is to abolish human sex trafficking – and if the end of the sex trade is to be a by-product of that, so be it. 


How would I recognize a sex trafficked victim? (Usually includes a combination of indicators):

They may be controlled or intimated by someone else (i.e. being escorted or watched).

They may not speak on their own behalf and may not be speaking language of destination country.

They may not have a passport or other I.D.

They may not be familiar with the neighborhood they live/work in.

They may be moved frequently by their traffickers.

They may have injuries/bruises from beating and/or weapons.

They may show visible signs of torture i.e. cigarette burns, cuts.

They may show visible signs of branding or scarring (indicating ownership by the trafficker).

They may show signs of malnourishment.

They may express fear and intimidation through facial expressions and/or body language.

There are very few clear black and white indicators of human trafficking.  The best general indicator is to look for someone doing something that a normal person would not do of their own free will. Many victims do not self-identify as victims. They also do not see themselves as people who are homeless or drug addicts who rely on shelters or assistance. Victims may not appear to need social services because they have a place to live, food to eat, medical care and what they think is a paying job. 


The Mindset of a Human Sex Trafficking Victim:

When interacting with and providing assistance to potential trafficking victims, it is important to understand their mindset so you can provide them the best care and help them begin the process of restoring their lives.

 1. Many trafficking victims do not speak language of destination country. Preying upon the poor and destitute from countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, traffickers lure their victims into the west with promises of marriage, a good job so they can provide for their families back home, and a better life.

2. These promises and dreams quickly turn to nightmares as victims find themselves trapped in the sex industry living daily with inhumane treatment, physical and mental abuse, and threats to themselves or their families back home. Sometimes victims do not even know what city or country they are in because they are moved frequently to escape detection.

3. Victims of trafficking have a fear or distrust of the government and police because they are afraid of being deported or because they come from countries where law enforcement is corrupt and feared. Sometimes they feel that it is their fault that they are in this situation. As a coping or survival skill, they may even develop loyalties and positive feelings toward their trafficker and try to protect them from authorities.

4. Confidentiality is vital for victims of human trafficking. Their lives and the lives of their families are often at great risk if they try to escape their servitude or initiate criminal investigations against their captors.


Where would I find a victim who has been trafficked for sexual exploitation?


Modeling studios


Escort services

Massage parlors



Private residences

Hotel/motel rooms


What is the impact of sex trafficking?

Trafficking has a harrowing effect on the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of the women and girls ensnared in its web. Trafficked women suffer extreme emotional stress including shame, grief, fear, distrust, and suicidal thoughts as well as the repercussions of physical abuse. Victims often experience post-traumatic stress disorder and the ensuing acute anxiety, depression and insomnia. Victims often turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. Sex trafficking promotes societal breakdown by removing women and girls from their families and communities. Trafficking also finances organized crime groups that usually participate in many other illegal activities such as drug and weapons trafficking and money laundering. It negatively impacts local and national labor markets due to the loss of human resources. Sex trafficking also burdens public health systems and erodes government authority, encourages widespread corruption, and threatens the overall security of vulnerable populations.


Victims suffer from host of physical and psychological problems stemming from:

Inhumane living conditions

Poor sanitation

Inadequate nutrition

Poor personal hygiene

Brutal physical and emotional abuse

Dangerous workplace conditions

General lack of quality medical care


Physical and Mental Health issues associated with victims of sex trafficking:

1. Sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, pelvic pain, rectal trauma and urinary difficulties

2. Unwanted pregnancy, resulting from rape or prostitution

3. Infertility from chronic untreated sexually transmitted infections or botched or unsafe abortions

4. Infections or mutilations caused by unsanitary and dangerous medical procedures performed by unqualified individuals

5. Malnourishment and serious dental problems. These are especially acute with child trafficking victims who often suffer from retarded growth and poorly formed or rotted teeth.

6. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis

7. Undetected or untreated diseases, such as diabetes or cancer

8. Bruises, scars and other signs of physical abuse and torture. Sex-industry victims often beaten in areas that will not damage their outward appearance like lower back.

9. Substance abuse problems or addictions

10. Psychological trauma from daily mental abuse and torture, including depression, stress-related disorders, disorientation, confusion, phobias and panic attacks

11. Feelings of helplessness, shame, humiliation, shock, denial or disbelief

12. Cultural shock from finding themselves in strange country


A medical study of women and girls entering care after having been trafficked found that:
95% reported physical and/or sexual violence.
56% suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
57% had 12-23 concurrent physical health problems.
60% suffered pelvic pain, vaginal discharge and gynecological infection.
38% had suicidal thoughts, 95% depression – most showing little reduction after 90 days in care.


Sexual violence vis-à-vis HIV among sex trafficked victims:

A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted among brothel-based sex workers of West Bengal, eastern India, to understand sex-trafficking, violence, negotiating skills, and HIV infection in them. In total, 580 sex workers from brothels of four districts participated in the study. Results of the study revealed that a sizeable number of the participants were from Nepal (9%) and Bangladesh (7%). The seroprevalence of HIV was strikingly higher among Nepalese (43%) than among Bangladeshis (7%) and Indians (9%). Almost one in every four sex workers (24%) had joined the profession by being trafficked. Violence at the beginning of this profession was more among the trafficked victims, including those sold by their family members (57%) compared to those who joined the profession voluntarily (15%). The overall condom negotiation rate with most recent two clients was 38%. By multivariate analysis, HIV was significantly associated with sexual violence (odds ratio=2.3; 95% confidence interval 1.2–4.5). The study has documented that the trafficked victims faced violence, including sexual violence, to a greater magnitude, and sexual violence was associated with acquiring HIV in them.


Sex trafficking of young girls and HIV:

A study was published in JAMA regarding HIV Prevalence and Predictors of Infection in Sex-Trafficked Nepalese Girls and Women. In this study, repatriated Nepalese sex-trafficked girls and women were found to have a high prevalence of HIV infection, with increased risk among those trafficked prior to age 15 years. A high rate of HIV infection (38.0%) was found among this sample of repatriated Nepalese sex-trafficked girls and women. Within this high-risk group, risk for HIV was further increased among girls trafficked at 14 years or younger (60.6% HIV-positive), those trafficked to Mumbai (49.6% HIV positive), and those reporting longer duration in brothels. The observation that 1 in 7 (14.7%) survivors of sex trafficking were 14 years or younger at the time of trafficking, coupled with the high rates of HIV infection seen among these youngest survivors, indicates a need for greater attention from the public health community to this population and to prevention of this violent gender-based crime and human rights violation.


Sex trafficking and HIV:

With approximately 40 million people living with HIV globally, there is an immediate need to address the causes that heighten the vulnerability of women and girls to trafficking and HIV. The twin problems of trafficking and HIV are influenced by the same set of factors – such as poverty, discrimination and unsafe mobility, especially in the context of gender and human rights. Sex trafficking and HIV are linked in two important ways: sex trafficking victims are more vulnerable to HIV than many other groups and sex trafficking spreads and exacerbate HIV and AIDS. While all people in the commercial sex industry are vulnerable to HIV infection, sex trafficking victims are often at the highest risk. Since trafficking victims — by definition — cannot control their situation, they cannot insist on safer sex practices, like condoms. Even if condoms are available in the brothel where a trafficking victim is held, she may not have the power to insist upon, or even suggest their usage. Trafficking victims are frequently raped and exposed to violent sexual behavior, which can cause tissue tears that make HIV transmission more likely. And once a trafficking victim contracts HIV, it is highly unlikely she will be tested, diagnosed, and treated for the disease, thus allowing the AIDS to develop. Additionally, women and children widowed or orphaned by AIDS are at increased risk for trafficking. Victims may also receive medical and/or surgical treatment which may have included forced or voluntary pregnancy terminations, in unsanitary conditions, by unqualified practitioners, using contaminated instruments and/or unscreened blood supplies. Sex trafficking also proliferates the global AIDS epidemic. Since trafficking victims are rarely tested and treated for HIV infections, they may continue to be forced to have unprotected sex with hundreds or thousands of men before exhibiting any symptoms. The cross-border transportation which sometimes accompanies sex trafficking operations also spreads the disease, as one infected victim can infect the men who buy her in several different regions or countries. Those men may go on and infect other partners, both in and out of the commercial sex industry. Furthermore, some cultural myths about AIDS, like the idea that sex with a virgin will cure an HIV infection, cause infected men to seek out unprotected sex with young trafficked women. Because of these deep connections, a reduction in global HIV infections means a reduction in people vulnerable to trafficking and one less harm experienced by sex trafficked women and children. And a reduction in global sex trafficking means one fewer way HIV can be spread across the globe. Also, children who have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS are more susceptible to traffickers’ manipulations. For example, older children trying to feed their siblings are most likely to be lured by a trafficker’s fraudulent job offer. Also,  HIV and AIDS increases the number of children trafficked because there is an increased demand for sex with young girls, since they are perceived to be HIV negative (despite the fact that they are in fact more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, both biologically and because of their lack of power to negotiate the use of condoms). One of the reasons customers give for sexually exploiting children is to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. But the data show this is no protection. For example, in Cambodia there are between 50,000 and 70,000 prostitutes. More than a third of them are less than 18 years old and about 50 per cent of these young people are HIV positive (Véran).


Only 15 per cent of the prostitutes in the United States have never contracted a venereal disease (Leidholdt). Fifty-eight per cent of the prostitutes of Burkina Faso have AIDS, as have, 52 per cent in Kenya, about 50 per cent in Cambodia and 34 per cent in the North of Thailand. In Italy, in 1988, two per cent of the prostitutes had AIDS, compared to 16 per cent ten years later (Leidholdt ; see also, Mechtild). In the industrialized countries, 70 per cent of female infertility is caused by venereal diseases caught from husbands and partners (Raymond). Given such conditions, it is hard to understand how some researchers can continue to treat “sex work” as a predominantly and simply a freely chosen occupation/activity.  


According to Policing the National Body: Sex, Race, and Criminalization, A Project of the Committee on Women, Population, and the Environment, 2002, numerous case studies have found that women in prostitution have significantly higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections (STIs), hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and other sexual health problems. STDs of the upper and lower reproductive tracts, including syphilis, genital herpes, chanchroid, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea increase the HIV transmission rate in women two to ten times. The report states, “HIV/AIDS is both a stark disease burden and also a biomarker of the gendered condition of women and of male sexual consumption. The highest rates in the world today exist in centers of sex tourism, in the military, and in societies and subcultures that condone male sexual exploitation, male sexual promiscuity, and female subordination. When the landscapes of sexual politics are further driven by economic collapse and conflict we see – as in Africa, South and East Asia, and the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union – the rise of trafficking in women and girls for prostitution and the emergence of new and the re-emergence of ‘old’ sexually transmitted diseases.” Countries such as Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, where the spread of HIV/AIDS is rising the most quickly, also have the highest numbers of trafficked women and girls.


A study analyzed Syphilis and Hepatitis B Co-infection among HIV-Infected, Sex-Trafficked women and girls from Nepal. Its findings demonstrate that HIV-infected sex-trafficking victims are more likely to be infected with other STIs, specifically syphilis and hepatitis B, than those not infected with HIV.


A study found that 68% of 827 people in several different types of prostitution in 9 countries met criteria for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The severity of PTSD symptoms of participants in this study were in the same range as treatment-seeking combat veterans, battered women seeking shelter, rape survivors, and refugees from state-organized torture.     


More than 2/3 of sex trafficked children suffer abuse at the hands of their traffickers. Trafficked children are significantly more likely to develop mental health problems, abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crimes later in life. Over 71% of trafficked children show suicidal tendencies.


Sex work and death:

An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect. Foremost among the health risks of prostitution is premature death. In a recent US study of almost 2,000 prostitutes followed over a 30-year period, by far the most common causes of death were homicide, suicide, drug and alcohol related problems, HIV infection and accidents – in that order. The homicide rate among active female prostitutes was 17 times higher than that of the age-matched general population. Canadian Commission Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution (1985) found that the death rate of women in prostitu­tion was 40 times higher than the general population. A mor­tality survey of 1600 women in U.S. prostitution noted that “no population of women studied previously had the percentage of deaths due to murder even ap­proximating those observed in our cohort”. In this survey murder accounted for 50% of the deaths of women in prostitution. (Farley, 2004).


Human rights violations and trafficking:

Trafficking in women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation is an open and flagrant human rights violation occurring around the world.  When a woman or child is trafficked or sexually exploited, they are denied the most basic human rights, and in the worst case, they are denied their right to life. Prostitution and sexual exploitation have devastating health and quality of life effects on its victims.


Methods of Coping and Resistance:

Although women were severely victimized while in the sex industry, they were not simply victims. They found many ways to cope, resist and survive the exploitation and violence. The vast majority of international (87%) and U.S. (92%) women used drugs or alcohol to cope while they were in the sex industry. Half of the women began using drugs and alcohol after they entered the sex industry to numb themselves to the trauma of unwanted sex. Many women (international women—50%, U.S. women—43%) tried, sometimes multiple times, to leave the sex industry. Twenty-seven percent of the international women and 52 percent of the U.S. women said economic necessity, drug dependencies and pimps who beat, kidnapped, and/or threatened them or their children prevented them from leaving.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC):


The commercial sexual exploitation of children is perhaps the most heinous of all human trafficking situations. The Declaration and Action Agenda of the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (1996) offers the following definition: “The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a fundamental violation of children’s rights. It comprises sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object. The commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children, and amounts to forced labor and a contemporary form of slavery.” Children can be sexually exploited for financial gain in a number of ways. Prostitution, pornography, and child trafficking for sexual purposes are three of the primary and overlapping ways that such exploitation occurs. That is not to say that these are the only mechanisms of abuse, however they are most primary. Two examples of additional forms include early marriages, sale of children for marriage and reproduction, and sex tourism. Sex tourists, seeking anonymity and impunity in foreign lands, exploit many of these children in child sex tourism. The commercial sexual exploitation of children clearly impinges on the child’s right to autonomy, health, and psychological well-being. Children who are trafficked for sexual exploitation often face horrifying physical violence that can result in injury or death. Children are hit, beaten with fists and with objects, and raped in order to ensure their compliance with the expectations of their captors. It is not uncommon for children who have been trafficked into sex slavery to be forced into sex acts with up to 20 men daily (O’Connell, 2005). Often, protective measures against sexually transmitted disease are not taken, and therefore children are vulnerable to a wide range of dangerous illnesses, many of which are likely to shorten their lifespan. Such threats to physical safety also play a role in the psychological trauma of being trafficked. In addition to physical violence and rape, trafficked children face painful separation from their caregivers and the ongoing threat of harm. Reactions to this and any type of abusive situation vary from person to person. Children who have been trafficked have reported feelings of worthlessness and shame. Another common reaction to an abusive and dangerous situation is to identify with the abuser. This creates a false sense of safety that can sometimes help the victim make it through terrifying circumstances. Clearly there should be no room in our world for any type of mistreatment of children. However, hundreds of thousands of children endure the most vile and inhumane conditions on a daily basis. With regard to protecting children from being trafficked, there is a need to strengthen the criminal justice response to trafficking through education, training, and legislative reform. In addition, strong psychosocial support must be in place in communities worldwide in order to meet the needs of survivors. A step in the direction toward rectification of the abuse and neglect of children through trafficking is education and volunteerism.


Every 2 minutes a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation (UNICEF). The average age of a trafficked victim is 12-14 years old. According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), over the past 30 years, over 30 million children have been sexually exploited through human trafficking. Sex traffickers often recruit children because not only are children are more unsuspecting and vulnerable than adults, but there is also a high market demand for young victims. Traffickers target victims on the telephone, on the Internet, through friends, at the mall, and in after-school programs. An estimated 2 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multibillion dollar commercial sex industry (UNICEF). An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year (UNICEF). Around the world between 50 and 60 percent of the children who are trafficked into sexual slavery are under age 16. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimates that at least 100,000 American children are the victims of commercial sexual trafficking and prostitution each year. The industry of child prostitution exploits 400,000 children in India (UNICEF 2003), 100,000 children in the Philippines (CATW), between 200,000 and 300,000 in Thailand (Oppermann), 100,000 in Taiwan (UNICEF 2001) and in Nepal (ECPAT), 500,000 children in Latin America, and from 244,000 to 325,000 children in the United States. If one includes children in all the sex industries, the U.S. figures climb to 2.4 million (UNICEF 2001). In the People’s Republic of China, there are between 200,000 and 500,000 prostituted children. In Brazil, estimates vary between 500,000 and two million (UNICEF 2001). About 35 per cent of the prostitutes of Cambodia are less than 17 years old (CATW). Certain studies estimate that during one year, the prostituted “sexual services” of one child are sold to 2,000 men (Robinson).


Prostitution of children under the age of 18 years, child pornography and the (often related) sale and trafficking of children are often considered to be crimes of violence against children. They are considered to be forms of economic exploitation akin to forced labor or slavery. Such children often suffer irreparable damage to their physical and mental health. They face early pregnancy and risk sexually transmitted diseases, particularly AIDS. They are often inadequately protected by the law and may be treated as criminals. Child trafficking and CSEC sometimes overlap. On the one hand, children who are trafficked are often trafficked for the purposes of CSEC. However, not all trafficked children are trafficked for these purposes. CSEC is also part of, but distinct from, child abuse, or even child sexual abuse. Child rape, for example, will not usually constitute CSEC. Neither will domestic violence.


Did you know that one in seven kids between the ages of 10 and 18 run away at some point in their lives? Estimates of runaway children are between 1 million and 3 million. Where do so many children go? Many wind up on the streets and many of those end up being trafficked. Girls represent 80 to 90% of the victims, although in some places boys predominate. severe poverty, the possibility of relatively high earnings, low value attached to education, family dysfunction, a cultural obligation to help support the family or the need to earn money to simply survive are all factors that make children vulnerable to CSEC. In order to make a living, children are sold into the sex trade to provide food and shelter and in some cases money to satisfy the addiction of a family member or themselves. There are other non-economic factors that also push children into commercial sexual exploitation. Children who are at greatest risk of becoming victims of CSEC are those that have previously experienced physical or sexual abuse. A family environment of little protection, where caregivers are absent or where there is a high level of violence or alcohol or drug consumption, induces boys and girls to run away from home, making them highly susceptible to abuse. Gender discrimination and low educational levels of caregivers are also risk factors. Children with extreme poverty and marginalized families in coastal areas also become victims of CSEC. Child trafficking can occur when children are abducted from the streets, sold into sexual slavery and forced marriage by relatives, or in any place where traffickers, pimps and recruiters prey upon a child’s vulnerabilities. Poverty is the pre-condition that makes it easier for traffickers to operate. The greatest factor in promoting child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation is the demand for younger and younger victims worldwide. This demand comes from the mostly male buyers who become the customers in the growing global sex industry. Children are often trafficked, employed and exploited because, compared to adults, they are more vulnerable, cheaper to hire and are less likely to demand higher wages or better working conditions. Client preferences for young children, particularly in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, pull in additional children. Additionally, the expansion of the Internet has facilitated the growth of child pornography. Experience has shown that certain socio-economic characteristics, such as population density, concentration of night entertainment (bars and discos), high poverty and unemployment levels, movement of people, and access to highways, ports, or borders are also associated with CSEC. 


Child grooming:

Child grooming refers to actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, in order to lower the child’s inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity with the child, or exploitation. Child grooming may be used to lure minors into illicit businesses such as child prostitution or the production of child pornography.


Child prostitution:

Child prostitution is considered inherently nonconsensual and exploitative, as children, because of their age, are not legally able to consent to sex. The prostitution of children is a form of commercial sexual exploitation of children in which a child performs the services of prostitution, usually for the financial benefit of an adult. In many countries, especially poorer countries, child prostitution remains a very serious problem, and numerous tourists from the Western World travel to these countries to engage in child sex tourism. Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil and Mexico have been identified as leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation. The surveys sponsored by the Ministry of Women and Child Development estimated about 40% of India’s prostitutes to be children. Thailand’s Health System Research Institute reported that children in prostitution make up 40% of prostitutes in Thailand.


Child pornography:

Child pornography – which some have called ‘child abuse images’  – refers to images or films depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child; as such, child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse. Abuse of the child occurs during the sexual acts which are photographed in the production of child pornography, and the effects of the abuse on the child (and continuing into maturity) are compounded by the wide distribution and lasting availability of the photographs of the abuse.  


Sex Trafficking in children:

Sex trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. It was reported in 2010 that Thailand and Brazil were considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records. Trafficking in children often involves exploitation of the parents’ extreme poverty. Parents may sell children to traffickers in order to pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training and a better life for their children. They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking, or illegal adoptions. Thousands of children from Asia, Europe, North America and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families. In the U.S. Department of Justice study, more than 30 percent of the total numbers of trafficking cases for that year were children coerced into the sex industry.


Listed in the order of frequency with which they have been identified in the scholarly literature, child sexual exploitation appears to be fueled by:

 1) The use of prostitution by runaway and thrown away children to provide for their subsistence needs;

 2) The presence of pre-existing adult prostitution markets in the communities where large numbers of street youth are concentrated;

3) Prior history of child sexual abuse and child sexual assault;

4) Poverty;

 5) The presence of large numbers of unattached and transient males in communities–including military personnel, truckers, conventioneers, sex tourists, among others;

6) For some girls, membership in gangs;

 7) The promotion of juvenile prostitution by parents, older siblings and boyfriends;

 8) The recruitment of children by organized crime units for prostitution; and, increasingly,

9) Illegal trafficking of children for sexual purposes to the U.S. from developing countries located in developing Asia, Africa, Central and South America, and Central and Eastern Europe.


It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged sex workers in the U.S. (the average age of girls who enter into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, with some as young as nine years old), not including those who entered the “trade” as minors and have since come of age. Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many started out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or larger sex rings. Others persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves. Debbie, a straight-student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., is an example of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie’s captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with children and the money that Debbie “earned” for sex was given to her kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days. While Debbie was fortunate enough to be rescued, others are not so lucky. According to Shared Hope International, an under-aged prostitute, working five nights a week, could over the course of five years find herself “raped” by 6,000 men. That quota increases dramatically during sporting events such as the Super Bowl, which is considered a magnet for prostitution. As Shared Hope reports, “Children exploited through prostitution typically are given a quota by their trafficker/pimp of 10-15 buyers per night…though some service providers report girls having been sold to as many as 45 buyers in a night at peak demand times, such as a sporting event or convention.” 


The U.S. and sex trafficking:

No discussion on sex trafficking is comprehensive without mention of the U.S. because it is the biggest destination country for victims of sex trafficking due to its great demand, large economy and also belief among non-Americans that life in America is better than rest of the world and so they are easily lured into working in the U.S. In 2005, the Department of Justice reported there have been an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 sex slaves in the U.S. since 2001. The U.S. government estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked across international borders annually. The four organizations with databases on global trafficking in persons are the U.S. government, International Labor Organization (ILO), IOM, and UNODC. The U.S. government and ILO estimate the number of victims worldwide, IOM collects data on victims it assists in the countries where it has a presence, and UNODC traces the major international trafficking routes of the victims. The databases provide information on different aspects of human trafficking since each organization analyzes the problem based on its own mandate. For example, IOM looks at trafficking from a migration and rights point of view and ILO from the point of view of forced labor. Despite the fact that the databases use different methodologies for data collection and analysis and have various limitations, some common themes emerge. For example, the largest percentage of estimated victims is trafficked for sexual exploitation. In addition, women constitute the majority of estimated victims. However, the estimated percentage of victims those are children ranges from 13 to 50 percent. Table below describes the victim profiles that emerge from the data. 




In 2000, the U.S. Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to combat trafficking and reauthorized this act twice. The table below shows Minimum Standards for the elimination of Human Trafficking to be complied by various governments as per TVPA.



Figure below shows principal U.S. Government Agencies with responsibilities for Antitrafficking activities and associated coordination entities:

The government has also created several coordinating mechanisms for these antitrafficking efforts, as shown in figure above.



The TVPA classifies countries that are origin, transit, or destination countries for significant number of victims of severe forms of trafficking in one of three tiers.

Tier 1: Countries which fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking
Tier 2: Countries which do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts
Tier 2 watch list: as Tier 2 but the number of victims is increasing, or the countries do not provide evidence of increased efforts to tackle the problem or the country if making efforts to improve
Tier 3: Countries which do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.


The world map below shows various countries as per “tier” definition discussed above.


Countries which ignore Human Trafficking:

The annual U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report on 175 countries is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat human trafficking. In 2011, 23 countries failed to meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, and were classified as Tier 3 countries. That’s up from 13 countries in 2010. Countries making the list in 2011 included many habitual offenders, headed by Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Burma, Congo (DRC), Mauritania, Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Kuwait.


The Anti-trafficking Policy Index:

The “3P Anti-trafficking Policy Index” measures the effectiveness of government policies to fight human trafficking based on an evaluation of policy requirements prescribed by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000). The policy level is evaluated using a five-point scale, where a score of five indicates the best policy practice, while score 1 is the worst. This scale is used to analyze the three main anti-trafficking policy areas: (1) prosecuting (criminalizing) traffickers, (2) protecting victims, and (3) preventing the crime of human trafficking. The outcome of the Index shows that anti-trafficking policy has overall improved over the 2000-2009 period. Improvement is most prevalent in the prosecution and prevention areas worldwide. An exception is protection policy, which shows a modest deterioration in recent years. 


Statistical fallacies:

It is argued that many of these sex trafficking statistics are grossly inflated to aid advocacy of anti-trafficking NGOs and the anti-trafficking policies of governments. Due to the definition of trafficking being a process (not a single defined act) and the fact that it is a dynamic phenomenon with constantly shifting patterns relating to economic circumstances, much of the statistical evaluation is flawed and estimates of global human trafficking are questionable. The accuracy of the estimates is in doubt because of methodological weaknesses, gaps in data, and numerical discrepancies. There is also a considerable discrepancy between the numbers of observed and estimated victims of human trafficking. Numerous NGOs and governmental agencies produce estimates and specific statistics on the numbers of potential and actual victims of trafficking.  According to the critics, these figures rarely have identifiable sources or transparent methodologies behind them and in most (if not all) instances, they are mere guesses. Scholars argue that this is a result of the fact that it is impossible to produce any meaningful statistics on a reportedly illegal and covert phenomenon happening in the shadow economy.


The quality of existing country level data varies due to limited availability, reliability, and comparability. Table below summarizes the main limitations of trafficking data, identified in the review of literature on human trafficking.


If sex slaves were so abundant, why weren’t they being found? The “discrepancy” between the estimated numbers of victims and the number of cases actually brought to court suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion. Is it so? Well, I think sex trafficking is clandestine trade and like all clandestine trade, you always see only tip of the ice berg. The United Nations notes that “the lack of accurate statistics is due only in part to the hidden nature of the crime, and that the lack of systematic reporting is the real problem.” In other words, the number of those trafficked worldwide might be far greater than what is estimated. In 2006 there were 5,808 trafficking prosecutions and 3,160 convictions worldwide, which would mean that one person is convicted for every 800 people trafficked. So statistics has to be viewed in this context.  


The other side of the story:

Regarding sex trafficking, it is impossible to measure the ratio of agency to victimization—i.e., voluntary versus involuntary migration. But several studies suggest that a significant number of migrants have made conscious and informed decisions to relocate. A study of Vietnamese migrants in Cambodia, who had been assisted by intermediaries, reported that out of 100 women studied, only six had been duped, and the rest knew prior to leaving Vietnam that they would work in a brothel in Cambodia. Their motivations consisted of “economic incentives, desire for an independent lifestyle, and dissatisfaction with rural life and agricultural labor.” After raids on the brothels by “rescue” organizations, the women “usually returned to their brothel as quickly as possible.” The researchers argue that criminalizing the sex industry “forces [the workers] underground, making them more difficult to reach with appropriate services and increasing the likelihood of exploitation.”  Similar findings have been reported in Europe, where the women are “often aware of the sexual nature of the work. . . . Many migrants do know what is ahead of them, do earn a large amount of money in a short time selling sex, and do have control over their working conditions.”  One investigation of trafficking from Eastern Europe to Holland, based on interviews with seventy-two women, found that few of the women were coercively trafficked, and that a “large number” had previously worked as prostitutes. For most of the women, economic motives were decisive. The opportunity to earn a considerable amount of money in a short period of time was found to be irresistible. . . . In most cases recruiting was done by friends, acquaintances, or even family members. The facilitators made travel arrangements, obtained necessary documents, and provided money to the women. In Australia “the majority of women know they will be working in the sex industry and often decide to come to Australia in the belief that they will be able to make a substantial amount of money. . . . Few of the women would ever consider themselves sex slaves.”  These are not isolated studies; others have shown that a proportion of migrants sold sex prior to relocating or were well aware that they would be working in the sex industry in their new home. 


Chinese prostitutes resist effort to rescue them from Africa:

Police from China flew to the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2010 in the country’s first operation to rescue women trafficked to Africa. They found 11 Chinese women who had been promised decent jobs in Paris by traffickers but ended up working in a Chinese-owned karaoke bar in the country’s capital Kinshasa. After a joint raid by Chinese and Congolese police on the karaoke bar, however, the women decided to stay in the country, saying it was easier to make good money there than in China. Chinese police official told the media, “They make 100 $ for receiving one guest – half of the money goes to their boss and they keep the other half.”


Thailand’s Burmese sex workers don’t want to be ‘rescued’:

 Being a sex worker these days isn’t what it used to be. Much has improved – no more pimps or mama-sans, and fewer punches thrown their way. Being “rescued”, though, causes them all sorts of problem. A point is reached in history where there are more women in the Thai sex industry being abused by anti-trafficking practices than there are women exploited by traffickers. “We came to build new lives for our families, not to be sent home empty-handed and ashamed,” explained Dang Moo, Burmese sex worker in Mae Sot. But the anti-trafficking law regards sex workers as victims, so those who enforce it believe they are “rescuing” the prostitutes. That just makes things worse, say the sex workers. Once “rescued” and after a period of detainment, the foreign workers are deported (only to return at the first chance) and the Thais usually have to undergo vocational training.  Gone are the days of pimps, prostitution mafia and the “green harvest”, when girls are recruited upcountry. In their place are helpful “older brothers” – the motorcycle-taxi driver and the bar manager. Sex workers now have hi-tech tools like smart phones and the Internet, and they’re also skilled at using them. So most Burmese sex workers in Thailand refuse to be “rescued”.


The picture below shows rescued sex trafficked Bangladeshi women/girls in India.

When police raided Budhwar Peth in Pune, India, which is the red light district of the city in October 2010, they found sex workers from Bangladesh. The police suspected the sex workers were illegally brought into the country and forced into prostitution. However, next day, all 21(including 6 minor) sex workers stomped out and created a ruckus. They broke off the grill and engaged in a fight with the management for a return ticket to brothel life. The photograph above shows these rescued sex workers in apparently good health. So this is the other side of the sex trafficking and it has been my endeavor to present both sides of the story and let audience decide the truth themselves. You cannot divide the world between white & black, truth & lies and good & evil. We all live in “gray areas” and we have to decide on which side of gray shall we live. I have decided to oppose sex trafficking notwithstanding the other side of the story. You can make your own judgment.  


Complicity of saviors:

There was enslavement and rape in Bosnia, not only during wartime 20 years ago but during the peace. Worse, not only were the enslaved women’s “clients” soldiers and police officers – so too were the traffickers, protected at the top of the United Nations operation in Bosnia. Bosnian women were raped not only by Serbian militia but later on by UN soldiers. A damning dossier sent by Kathryn Bolkovac to her employers, detailing UN workers’ involvement in the sex trade in Bosnia, cost the American her job with the international police force. During her time in Bosnia as an investigator, Ms Bolkovac, 41, uncovered evidence of girls who refused to have sex being beaten and raped in bars by their pimps while UN peacekeepers stood and watched. She discovered that one UN policeman who was supposed to be investigating the sex trade paid £700 to a bar owner for an underage girl who he kept captive in his apartment to use in his own prostitution racket. She was sacked after disclosing that UN peacekeepers went to nightclubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers, and that UN personnel and international aid workers were linked to prostitution rings in the Balkans. Liberated Kosovo is filled with sex slaves. NATO soldiers, UN police, Western aid workers were all exploiting these sex trafficked women. It’s not enough for the UN to say, “There are a few rotten apples that need to be got rid of.” They have to understand that this outrageous practice is endemic in the male hegemony of a militarized environment – its part of locker-room bravado and the high levels of testosterone in fighting armies. These crimes are perpetrated by individual men who rape and torture girls on mission, and then go home to their wives as war heroes.


Wired trafficking:

The Internet has become the latest place for promoting the global trafficking and sexual exploitation of women. The information superhighway is used to actively engage in the buying and selling of women and children. Catalogs of mail order brides, commercial sex tours, and video-conferencing bringing live strip shows to the Internet: it is all there and worse because there is still scant regulation of the Internet, the traffickers and promoters of sexual exploitation have virtual carte blanche. If expressions of concern or condemnation of forms of sexual exploitation of women and children on the Internet are minimized by claims of the need for internet freedom and free speech, it is imperative that we must define sexual exploitation as human rights violations and crimes against women, which we will not allow in our communities or on the Internet. The technology has changed the playing field.  Offenders don’t just parade children on city streets any more. Today, a customer can shop online for a girl child from the privacy of his home or hotel room. Online classified advertising services, like Craigslist, Backpage and dozens of others have made it possible for pimps and operators to offer these kids to prospective customers with little or no risk. However, to be fair to internet, I must state that it is the demand of men that is responsible for sexual exploitation of women/girls on internet and had there been no demand, who would have used internet for sex trafficking and pornography. So don’t blame the technology, blame yourself. Who told Karnataka ministers to watch pornography on mobile phone during assembly session?  You cannot blame mobile phones for spreading pornography. However, pornography and sex trafficking are intimately linked as discussed below.


Pornography and sex trafficking:

The common denominator in pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking is ―demand. People who buy sex or pornography are supporting sex trafficking because they create the demand that fuels the commercial sex industry. Help end the demand by asking your local law enforcement to enforce obscenity and vice crimes laws. Pornography is used to train sex slaves, especially children, showing what is expected of them when they are prostituted. By showing pornography to young children, they not only tell them they will have to perform or submit to the acts shown, but by repeatedly showing the victims porno-graphic films, they desensitize the children to it. Pimps and traffickers take pornographic pictures of victims to coerce them into making films and/or prostituting by threatening to show their family the pictures. Sometimes pimps film their victims performing sex acts on johns and sell it as pornography. In 2007, a man and woman were convicted in New York of forcing an 18-year-old girl to pose for pictures which they posted on Craigslist and of forcing her into prostitution. Customers view pornography and then use prostitutes to perform those sex acts. Many people are unaware of the change of focus in today’s pornography –– much of it is extremely violent and dehumanizing. Some of those who view it want to reenact what they see, but few wives or girlfriends will agree to such degradation. In other instances, the customer is unwilling to ask for the acts that he prefers, so he seeks out a prostitute. In a 2009 British study, twenty-seven percent of the men interviewed who admitted buying sex said, ―once he pays, the customer is entitled to engage in any act he chooses with women he buys. Fifty-eight percent of the men in the study used pornographic films and/or videos at least once a month. Pimps and traffickers cater to the demands of customers and will force their victims to perform whatever act the customers demand after viewing degrading acts on pornography.


Production of pornography and Internet sex shows are markets which often rely on trafficked victims. Some pornography is produced for private consumption or it is traded among trusted offenders, but a large amount of adult and child pornography is produced for commercial distribution. The value of it depends on if it is illegal and the extremeness of the abuse to the victim. The pornography markets for victims of trafficking have not received the attention that prostitution has. Yet, approximately one third of the victims of prostitution at Breaking Free in St. Paul Minnesota have been used in the production of pornography. In some parts of the world, centers of trafficking are also centers for the production of pornography. Budapest, Hungary is a destination and transit city for women trafficked from central and eastern Europe. Budapest has also become the pornography production capital of Europe. American and European pornography producers moved to Budapest because of the cheap, available victims. Budapest provides low production costs and lax government regulations and attitudes. There are hundreds of pornography films produced each year in Budapest. In only eight years, Budapest has become probably the biggest center for pornography production in Europe, even greater than Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Most West European producers of pornography use East European actors wherever possible. “They cost less and do more,” an executive at Germany’s Silwa production company explains. It is likely that at least some of the women used in the production of these videos are victims of trafficking, yet few people think of production of pornography as a way that victims of trafficking are exploited. There have been reports of young children–usually homeless or neglected teenagers–being recruited for pornography with promises of glamorous careers in modeling. The production pornography is often, and when children are used, always, an act of sexual abuse and exploitation. Experts agree that each time that image is viewed, the victim is revictimized. Once an offender uploads an image to the Internet, it quickly spreads all over the world. As a result of the development of new software that can trace the distribution of material on the Internet, a video of a four-year-old being abused was traced around the Internet. The video was found to have been downloaded to thousands of personal computers worldwide, and it just a few months time, was offered 40,000 times to offenders seeking child pornography. When images are made of victims of sex trafficking and distributed on the Internet, the abuse never ends because all of the images or videos can never be traced or destroyed. Someone can forever be viewing that act of sexual abuse.


Celebrities, pornography and pimps:

Celebrities too have become amateur porn stars. They show up in sex tapes (Colin Farrell, Kim Kardashian), hire porn producers to shoot their videos (Britney Spears) or produce porn outright (Snoop Dogg). Actual porn stars and call girls meanwhile have become celebrities. Ron Jeremy regularly takes cameos in movies and on TV, while adult star Jenna Jameson is a best-selling author. This veritable culture of pornography has also lent an air of glamour to the sex industry. As Tina Frundt, who was forced into prostitution when she was 14 years old, pointed out: “You can turn on the TV now and see pimps glamorized in TV shows, music videos, and movies.” Moreover, the use of such pejorative terms as “whore,” “slut” or “bitch” has largely become commonplace today and, especially when used by young people, connotes a certain amount of affection. Porn star Sunny Leone, the newest and perhaps ‘sexiest’ entrant to the “Big Boss” house on Indian TV says that ‘porn star’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘prostitute’.  I have already discussed earlier that pornography, prostitution and sex trafficking are intimately linked and people who support pornography are indirectly supporting sex trafficking.


Sexually Explicit Performances:

Women and girls are trafficked for sexually explicit performances, such as stripping and lap dancing. The standards for what is considering “dancing” have changed over the past decade and now involve physical contact. Previously, many strip clubs had “no contact” rules, which meant that men were not allowed to touch the women. But increased demand from male clients has led to more tolerance for physical touching. Lap dancing involves a naked or scantily clothed woman dancing around and eventually sitting on a man’s lap and rubbing until he ejaculates. The introduction of “lap dancing” has almost eliminated the distinction between dancing and prostitution. A study of strip clubs in Canada found that as soon as a new, more sexually explicit activity is introduced at a club, customers patronize that club. If other clubs don’t do the same thing to compete, they are left out of the market. The sex industry constantly pushes the limit and creates new scenarios and presentations for forms of sexual exploitation. Recruiting women for stripping and lap dancing is often not that difficult because women assume they will just be “dancing,” and are often given assurances that they don’t have to take off all their clothes. But after the women arrive, the exploiter’s expectations are imposed on the victims. Since 1998 in the U.S., there have been six federal cases of trafficking involving victims being coerced into stripping and the amount of coercion and force used against victims is no less than that used to coerce victims into prostitution. These markets have become attractive to some criminals because they assume that since stripping is legal they will be less likely to be caught trafficking women into these markets.


Modeling and sex trafficking:

A word of caution as a girl can be recruited by dubious model agencies for sexual exploitation and made a call girl or trafficked into another nation as sex worker. We must regulate modeling agencies to help prevent Child Sex Trafficking. There are growing numbers of modeling agencies that transport underage teenagers from developing countries or Eastern Europe into developed countries (Western nation) by falsifying their age. Many of these teenage girls come from economically disadvantaged families and are offered none to very limited protection while traveling and working as “models.”  Many of these young “models” are kidnapped and forced into brothels of Europe and North America. Parents who send their daughters for modeling career must ensure that she is working with reputed modeling agency otherwise she can become victim of sex trafficking.


Soldiers, sexual exploitation and sex trafficking:

Where military forces gather, there has been an historical risk of sexual exploitation, especially of local women. A decade ago there were 18,000 prostitutes in the service of the 43,000 U.S. servicemen stationed in South Korea (Barry 139). Between 1937 and 1945 the Japanese army of occupation exploited between 100,000 and 200,000 Korean women imprisoned in “comfort stations”. Over the last year, the U.S Department of Defense made new strides in addressing this phenomenon. UN peacekeeping operations were rocked by a sex abuse scandal in the Congo that caused the organization to reexamine current training policy. And NATO grappled with a wide range of attitudes—and laws covering prostitution—among member countries. Sex trafficking and sex abuse are not synonymous but to satisfy the lust of soldiers, women/girls have been trafficked in the area of military camps.


Sports and sex trafficking:

Some experts say there is evidence that sex trafficking and prostitution might increase at sporting events that draw hundreds of thousands of men away from their homes. Sex trafficking and sex tourism flourish when a large sporting event is hosted because fans and players want to celebrate when they win, and indulging in sexual activities is the leading way to celebrate victory. However, the reality of what actually happens and how people really behave has not lived up to such degraded visions, but in fact far worse than that, where girls/women are sexually abused. It no longer remains celebration or enjoyment but sexual assault. The increase in forced prostitution and sex trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation during various FIFA World cups bear testimony to the claim that sporting events promote sex trafficking. When India hosted commonwealth games recently, many women were trafficked in from other countries for sex work. In the U.S.; there is undeniably sex trafficking during Super Bowl. Large sporting events like the Super Bowl are prime targets for sex traffickers because of the high demand generated by thousands of men pouring into an area for a weekend of fun. The 2010 Super Bowl saw an estimated 10,000 sex workers brought into Miami. Despite efforts to crack down on sex trafficking at the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas, there were still a tremendous number of women and children sexually exploited. In the past, attempted crackdowns by law enforcement have misfired by treating prostitutes as criminals to be locked up rather than victims to be rescued. However, there is exaggeration of figures of sex trafficking during sporting events by media. Nonetheless, sports and sex trafficking are linked.


Drug abuse and sex trafficking:

Traffickers frequently will encourage drug addictions as a means of controlling trafficked persons. This stratagem binds the trafficked person to the trafficker because the trafficked person feels compelled to work in order to maintain the feeling from drug usage. In cases where use becomes dependency, women are further tied to their trafficker to work in order to support their addiction. Moreover, trafficked persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol might be able to work longer hours, perform otherwise risky or objectionable acts with clients, and work with more clients than usual. Occasionally trafficked persons will use alcohol and drugs as a way to tolerate abuse. In order to numb themselves, trafficked persons will use drugs or alcohol to make themselves ‘be able to do’ what they were being made to do. Some trafficked persons will self-medicate using drugs as a form of stress relief.


Drug cartel in sex trafficking:

Cartels will kidnap children and young people, demand ransom, but in many cases never return the victims. The person held in captivity can be filmed doing sex acts and can be sold on the Internet throughout the world and make 10 times that amount of money. A young girl with a certain complexion — blond hair, blue eyes – will dramatically increase the value of the potential victim. Kidnappers are using social media to target victims, by creating a false profile, engages you, talks about you. This person now sounds familiar to you, and your defenses are going to come down, increasing your vulnerability.


Do abortion clinics help sex trafficking?

In the U.S. the Planned Parenthood clinics are offering abortion services to young girls aged 13-14 years involved in sex trafficking when brought by her pimp to the clinic. If a young girl has been enslaved by sex traffickers, shouldn’t we be able to count on the abortion clinic (a facility which claims to care about women) to help rescue her? However, Planned Parenthood clinics in America have been found conniving with sex traffickers. Listen to the story of “Rosa” who was smuggled into the United States from Mexico when she was 14: “And so my nightmare began. Because I was a virgin, the men decided to initiate me by raping me again and again, to teach me how to have sex. Over the next three months, I was taken to a different trailer every 15 days. Every night I had to sleep in the same bed in which I had been forced to service customers all day. I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I wasn’t allowed to go outside without a guard. Many of the bosses had guns. I was constantly afraid. One of the bosses carried me off to a hotel one night, where he raped me. I could do nothing to stop him. Because I was so young, I was always in demand with the customers. It was awful. Although the men were supposed to wear condoms, some didn’t, so eventually I became pregnant and was forced to have an abortion. They sent me back to the brothel almost immediately.”  Planned Parenthood and abortion services are an integral part of facilitating the human trafficking/sex trafficking business. Much like abortion, human trafficking thrives because of society’s general lack of respect and value for the inherent dignity of human life. Just as the abortion industry uses the unborn child for profit, the trafficker also profits off of the vulnerable woman who he sees as disposable. It is assumed that abortion is a good way to help women and girls who are victims of trafficking. However, a closer look below the surface shows that abortion is likely to harm, not help, victims of trafficking – and, in the words of one expert, could even be a death sentence. Abortion is usually unwanted and often traumatic, used as a tool by sex traffickers and puts women and girls at further risk for more trauma and continued abuse.


Can widespread contraceptive use lead to sex trafficking?

I believe many of our societal issues are directly related to the use of contraceptives because they allow the sexual act to be performed without accountability. It reinforces personal gratification detached from natural law, which states that sex between a man and a woman can produce a child during fertile days if all is well physiologically. By circumventing this law, people are objectified because it takes the person out of the equation; it becomes solely an act of gratification. If a particular act produces something as significant as creating another human being, doesn’t it seem logical that there would be responsibility attached to that act? Married couples often have the most issues surrounding sex. Women often feel unappreciated and men often struggle with pornography. Could there be a direct correlation between this and sex without responsibility? We may think so due to this objectification. Single people struggle with sexual issues as well. Women will involve themselves in sexual encounters/relationships often in an effort to feel loved and valued. Men will participate in the same type of relationship mostly for physical gratification. This may not always be true, but most will agree they do not feel a sense of responsibility when it comes to sex. Why should they? Contraceptives take accountability out of the situation. Women are fertile a few days out of each month. If instead of using contraceptives, people did not have sex for those few days, value would be restored to the people rather than the sexual act. Since contraceptives have taken out accountability and responsibility from sexual acts, it would promote perversions including rape, sex trafficking, child pornography, abortion and single parent households. However, to be fair to contraception, I would state that prostitution has existed for hundreds of years much before invention of contraceptives and therefore one cannot squarely blame contraceptives for sexual exploitation.     


How hotel/motel rooms are used for sex trafficking:

The picture below shows sex trafficking victim in a motel room.

After a pimp and customer make a deal, usually online or over the phone, hotels are an obvious place where the sex can take place. There’s privacy, a neutral place for a customer to come to, certain amount of anonymity and you don’t have to stay long term. Hotel managers may never spot the signs of sex trafficking, but housekeeping and room service employees often know something isn’t right. A pimp might hold up one or two girls in a room and might run traffic out of a room. They’ll post ads on a website and send a girl to the room next door. Red flags to watch for: Someone besides the guest rents a room, checks in without luggage and leaves the hotel. The girl left in the room may seem confused about her own name; may appear helpless, ashamed, nervous or disoriented; may show signs of abuse such as bruising in various stages of healing; or may have tattoos that reflect money or ownership. The girl usually doesn’t have any spending money or identification; cannot make eye contact; and wears clothes printed with slogans such as “Daddy’s Girl” or inappropriate clothes for the weather. Sometimes, the girl will come on to various men during the check-in process. Hotel guests can also keep their eyes open for those red flags. Guests who see the red flags can simply call the national hotline to report their suspicions, without ever leaving their names.


The 2004 Tsunami and sex trafficking:

In the aftermath of the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, there were sporadic reports of rape, sexual abuse, kidnapping, and trafficking in persons in the countries devastated by the tsunami. Thousands of orphaned children were vulnerable to exploitation by criminal elements seeking profit from their misery. In response, governments, international organizations, and NGOs made the prevention of human trafficking, particularly child trafficking, an integral component of disaster-relief planning. The tsunami-affected countries immediately alerted the public about the danger of human trafficking and worked with police and community officials to detect and deter trafficking cases. In particular, the Indonesian Government moved swiftly to halt international adoptions in the face of potential abuse. The Sri Lankan and Indonesian Governments also posted additional police at camps for internally displaced persons to prevent abuses of women and children.


Inter-country adoption and sex trafficking:

Inter-country adoption has pressed into the public consciousness in two contradictory ways. On the one hand, inter-country adoption is presented as a heart-warming act of good will that benefits both child and adoptive family. The child is characterized as a bereft orphan doomed to a dismal future within a poor country. All the child needs is a chance and a home. The adoptive family’s simple act of love in bringing the child to the Promised Land (western nation) brings to the adoptive parents a harvest of love from the child while also enriching the nation with a dynamic diversity. Contrasted with the positive face of adoption are numerous scandals and horror stories concerning inter-country adoption. The adoption process, legal or illegal, when abused can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world. In David M. Smolin’s papers on child trafficking and adoption scandals between India and the United States, he presents the systemic vulnerabilities in the inter-country adoption system that makes adoption scandals predictable. Adoption is portrayed as child trafficking or baby selling. Shadowy figures buy, steal, or kidnap children from poor families in developing nations for sale to adoptive families in rich nations. Such inter-country adoption may be involved in child sex trafficking from poor nation to wealthy nation.


Sex trafficking and media:

The media plays an indispensable role in educating people about the many manifestations of global human trafficking, presenting the problem in human terms and in all its painful detail. Yet media coverage is weak in many parts of the world. Some news media outlets are not yet aware of the trafficking phenomenon, or confuse it with other issues such as illegal migration and alien smuggling. The media has a large role to play in mobilizing public support and involvement to help prevent and combat trafficking. Due to its reach and ability to mould public opinion, it is a powerful tool of social change. Investigative journalism on trafficking needs to be promoted. However, media publicity should take into consideration the rights approach and ensure that there is no violation of the rights of the victims and survivors. So, there is a need to develop minimum standards for the media.


 DO’S for media:

Tell the truth.

Be accurate and objective and, above all, fair.

Use masking techniques to avoid revealing the identities of the victims.

The victims can do with some empathy from the journalists. Try to feel what they feel.

Do not expose them, but take up their cause.

Investigate the reasons behind trafficking.

 Help track down perpetrators.

Visit source areas and see the reality in all its complexity.

Highlight the problems the survivors face, not their trauma.

Cover the story at court – focusing on the law, its lacunae, its enforcement, delays, etc.

Choose your words carefully.


DON’TS for media:

 When you want to do such a story – be a little more human.

Do not treat the survivor as an object.

Refrain from treating them as ‘victims’ as well.

Try and avoid taking pictures of faces of the survivors.

Try not to ask questions to victims that violate their dignity. (How many times were you raped? How many clients a day?)

Try not to take them (on a mental recap of their actual journey) to the brothel.

Try not being patronizing, compassionate or even sympathetic.

Do not distort facts to sensationalize even with blurbs, captions and visuals.

Avoid tabloid-like, sensational headlines.

Avoid an “us-versus-them” attitude.

Be objective. There is no need for a trial by media.


How do you tackle & manage sex trafficking?

The picture below shows the “disconnect” between prevalence and knowledge of sex trafficking.


Human sex Trafficking is an organized crime and one of the gravest violations of Human Rights transgressing boundaries of official jurisdictions and other man made restrictions of time and space. The list of traffickers and exploiters is endless. It is indeed a “high profit – low risk business”. Very often, victims remain un-noticed, un-cared for and their concerns not addressed. People are often not concerned because they are unaware of the extent, dimensions and implications of Human Trafficking. The prevailing ‘culture of silence’, ‘culture of tolerance’ and the ‘culture of non-concern’ not only permits but, promotes and perpetuates Human Trafficking and gives a free hand to the traffickers to continue with impunity, the merchandising of human beings. Law Enforcement Agencies are mandated to respond to the challenges of this trans-national organized crime. However, the very complex nature and manifold dimensions of human trafficking requires concerted and synergic response especially in the context of rehabilitation of the trafficked persons. Therefore, the anti-human trafficking response cannot be exclusively left to the domain of a police official at the police station. What is appropriate is an integrated and holistic response by a host of agencies including law enforcement officials, agencies concerned with justice delivery, social welfare and development, as well as civil society organizations, the media, academicians etc. A synergy of efforts is therefore indispensable during the ‘3 Ps’ of anti human trafficking, namely, Prevention, Prosecution and Protection.



A multi-pronged prevention strategy for creating awareness, sensitization and dealing with vulnerability factors of specific areas/communities can be effectively implemented with the involvement of the concerned government departments, law enforcement agencies, NGOs, media and corporate/business houses. Preventing re-trafficking is an area where NGOs along with the assistance of corporate/business houses can play a stellar role by ensuring the economic rehabilitation of rescued victims/survivors. Prevention also calls for addressing the demand factors, which includes demand for child labor, demand for children in sex tourism, etc. Captains of industry and the tourism sector can play a substantial role in this area.


An effective and successful prosecution is not the responsibility of law enforcement agencies alone, but can be brought about by the combined endeavors of NGOs (for e.g. by preparing a victim to face a court room situation, etc.) and the media (for e.g. by a continuous follow-up on the progress of the trial, by being vigilant to ensure that justice is delivered with celerity, certainty and surety). The number of convictions is increasing, but unfortunately not proportionately to the growing awareness and extent of the problem. There are several likely reasons for the low number of convictions of human traffickers. One of the reasons is the absence of anti-trafficking legislation in some countries. Alternatively, there may be legislation addressing human trafficking but law enforcement officials and prosecutors might not be properly trained to utilize it. Sometimes situations of human trafficking are mistaken for situations of migrant smuggling; this can result in inappropriate and inadequate sentences applied to crimes. Another potential obstacle to securing convictions may also be corruption. Further to this, sometimes prosecutions are not successful because of the unwillingness of victims to cooperate with the criminal justice system where they have been threatened and intimidated by traffickers.


Protection of the rights of the victim during the criminal justice system processes (investigation and trial) can be effectively undertaken by all the stakeholders involved. The care and attention of the rescued person can be broadly classified into two; firstly, counseling, de-dramatization and psychosocial and medical attention. Secondly, empowerment programs and providing sustainable livelihood options. In these areas, everyone can be a stakeholder, with a specific role to play; this includes law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations, media, political personalities, celebrities, business houses, academics, and every citizen who is concerned with human rights issues.


Partnerships and Inter-Agency Cooperation:

Experts in the field of human trafficking emphasize the need to work in partnership or in a coordinated international, national and local response to effectively combat sex trafficking. Law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, service providers and the public must work together to use the full extent of the community’s legal system to protect victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and enforce the community’s intolerance of the sale of human beings for sex. Coordinated community response programs should engage the entire community in efforts to change the social norms and attitudes that contribute to sex trafficking. Civil society organizations are critical partners particularly in prevention and protection efforts, but can also be key in assisting the government in the area of prosecution, starting with their role in the identification of victims of trafficking, support and care for victims of trafficking throughout court proceedings, including the provision of legal assistance, medical and psychological aid, as well as in contributing to a dignified process of repatriation (if such is desired by the victim) and reintegration, or the process of integration into society if a residency status is granted.  


It should not happen that remedy is worse than disease. If the ‘victim of trafficking’ be eventually sent home to be reunited with her misery once again, then she will choose not to identify herself as a ‘victim of trafficking’ – in order not to become a victim of anti-trafficking.


The picture below shows how sex trafficking can be reduced by concerted efforts of various agencies, organizations and individuals.


Prosecution of pimps:

Throughout the world, most prostitution-related arrests are of the women and girls, who are most likely to be victims, followed by the purchasers of sex acts, and finally, the exploiters. Although they are the profiteers and most serious perpetrators of harm to victims, they are the least arrested and prosecuted. The Barnardos report on pimping in the UK notes: “‘Pimping’ is an offence which rarely attracts the attention of the criminal justice system… [although pimps] do…play a large part in locking sex workers into sex work.” In interviews, the police said that they rarely charge an individual with pimping unless the woman or girl files a complaint.


In the UK, police gave following reasons for the low number of arrests and convictions of pimps:

1) Evidential problems of proving living off immoral earnings;

2) A lack of resources and manpower needed to secure successful prosecutions;

3) Inadequate court sentences;

4) Witnesses are fearful and unprotected by the criminal justice system;

5) Variations in police practice across areas.


Raising awareness:

This can take three forms. First, in raising awareness amongst potential victims, particularly in countries where human traffickers are active. Second, raising awareness amongst police, social welfare workers and immigration officers to equip them to deal appropriately with the problem. And finally, in countries where prostitution is legal or semi-legal, raising awareness amongst the clients of prostitution to watch for signs of human trafficking victims. Raising awareness can take on different forms. One method is through the use of awareness films or through posters.


What can individuals do?

Learn, read, report, and stop burying your heads in the sand. Many of the people involved in these crimes could be your next door neighbor. Get local law enforcement initiatives started, and ask your local police chief question regarding sex trafficking. Try to find out whether local hotel/motel/guest house  have non-native young females working, who do not speak local language, have no documents and do not know what wage they are being paid. Individuals have a crucial part to play. First, they can support grassroots anti-slavery organizations, either through volunteer efforts or financial contribution. Second, they can demand that their governments take the steps required to abolish slavery once and for all. Third, and perhaps most important, they can serve as the frontlines of a new abolitionist movement, by forming a system of anti-slavery community vigilance committees. Opposing sex trafficking, the system of prostitution and the sex industry doesn’t make you a conservative, a moralist, or an apologist for some political party or group. It helps make you a feminist and a human rights advocate.


Sex education must be included in curricula of high schools which have chapters that introduce child sexual abuse, its effects, measures to be taken to protect children from child sexual abuse, and also elaborates on reasons for child trafficking.


Tips to protect children from sex trafficking:

1. Make sure your children are with you, or with a trusted adult at all times.

2. Strictly monitor computer use. Sex traffickers can toy with children over the Internet at their leisure, until they have them emotionally entrapped.

3. Educate your children going off to college or travel about the deception used by sex traffickers. If someone seemingly needy asks for assistance, girls should get a policeman or a security guard to help.

4. Teach kids never to lose themselves in alcohol or drugs.

5. Warn young people to avoid stairwells, elevators, clubs, bars, and deserted streets where they can be whisked out of sight.

6. Teach youngsters to beware of offers of modeling and dancing careers that seem too good to be true. Millions of girls have lost their lives believing they were going to be famous, or have better opportunities.


Can biology of sex bail out men for creating demand of sex trafficking?

Let us understand basic biological fact. Sex is not easy for men.  Sex is a complicated process for men. Men need to have a hard erection in order to have sex. Getting an erection is a complicated process. Getting a rock hard erection is not necessarily easy for men. In order for a man to have a hard erection, he must be sexually aroused by the woman, feel comfortable, and continue to be aroused or he will lose the erection and have a soft flaccid penis. Can a woman or a girl who is crying, kicking, and screaming because she does not want to have sex with him turn on men?  Does this make men sexually excited?  Does this give men a rock hard erection when the woman they are trying to have sex with hates them, and is doing everything she can to prevent sex with him?  Does this always turn men on sexually? For most men the answer is no. Most men will never get an erection raping a woman who hates him, and does not want to have sex with him, or they will lose the erection quickly and have a soft flaccid penis. Men, when they see a prostitute are looking for a sexy woman and want a “girlfriend experience” and want the woman to like them and want to have sex with them. The man needs to feel comfortable with the woman. If the woman does not want to have sex with them, that is a big turn off and the man will not get an erection. The man will have a soft flaccid penis. Of course, there will always be a few men who are perverts. Those are not turned on sexually in the normal way but in abnormal way (e.g. rapists). Barring these exceptions, it can be assumed that most normal men will not get hard erection while having sex with sex trafficked woman/girl who is resisting.  However, the truth lies somewhere in between rape and consensual sex. Most victims of sex trafficking are “broken girls” who have been tortured, raped and blackmailed by pimps, and so while encountering customers, they do not resist or scream and in fact, during sexual act, their conscience is out of their body so that they do not feel anything; and therefore biology of sex cannot bail out men for creating demand of sex trafficking. Also, as discussed earlier, most men who buy sex do not buy sex to get orgasm, but to sexually abuse a woman/girl in a way they could not do with their wives or girlfriends.


Can this happen to you or your loved one?

Our instinct is to start listing the reasons this couldn’t happen to us or those we love. There must be some inherent issue with the victims that separates us. No, nobody is invulnerable to sex trafficking. When traffickers pick up a girl who has some fight in her, she has to be broken. Often, she’s shut in a room on a nasty mattress, her clothes are taken away, and a series of men—drunk, fat, ugly, stoned, and otherwise—come in, one after the other, twenty-four hours a day for several days and keeps on raping her. She can’t get out. She can’t eat. She can’t even sleep. She gives in and becomes a forced prostitute. She is forced to service more than a dozen clients a day—business men, locals, and tourists—interested in quick sex for cash. After several months of sexual abuse and physical violence, she is mentally and emotionally destroyed and is resigned to her situation. She no longer dreams of going home. She is broken. Any woman can be broken in and turned into a prostitute. There is another way to manipulate victims, that is by controlling them with drugs. Can she run away?  Her trafficker has threatened to steal a younger brother or sister or kill her parents. She is so weak she can’t get up. She knows that cops cannot be trusted, and she’s seen that played out. The good cop will send her to jail for the night, take all her clothes as evidence, and release her to the streets in the morning with nothing but a prison uniform. The bad cop will threaten her with jail if she doesn’t continue with commercial sex. The bad cop may also use sexual services from victim.  She has no other marketable skills. She has no money and no place to live. She would go from a skanky shelter-home with a life of abuse to the streets, where she’d still be vulnerable to abuse, but also to weather and starvation. This is the bleak picture. For those of you who think it cannot happen to you, I want to let you know that the dragnet of the traffickers is so wide that only God knows who is safe. I cannot remain silent to this bleak picture. The least I can do is to create awareness among people about sex trafficking and remind people that it can happen to your daughter, your sister or your girl friend who could be sex trafficked into some distant place where you cannot help her. So fight for the victims of sex trafficking socially, legally and culturally.


“We, the survivors of prostitution and trafficking gathered at this press conference today, declare that prostitution is violence against women. Women in prostitution do not wake up one day and “choose” to be prostitutes. It is chosen for us by poverty, past sexual abuse, the pimps who take advantage of our vulnerabilities, and the men who buy us for the sex of prostitution.” (Manifesto, Joint CATW-EWL Press Conference, 2005).


Contrary to the old cliché, prostitution is almost certainly not the world’s oldest profession–that would be hunting and gathering, perhaps followed by subsistence farming–but it has been found in nearly every civilization on Earth stretching back throughout all recorded human history. We can say with some confidence that wherever there have been money, goods, or services to be bartered, somebody has bartered them for sex. Everybody, both men and women, has a responsibility for the society we live in, and for what kind of society we want our daughters and sons to grow up in. We want the future daughters to have all possibilities in society, so that they won’t have to sell their bodies. And we do not want a society where boys are taught that women can be bought. Sale of the female body is contrary to an equal society. Female sexual slavery is present in all situations where women or girls cannot change the immediate conditions of their existence; where regardless of how they got into those conditions they cannot get out; and where they are subjected to sexual violence and exploitation. It is impossible to combat trafficking where prostitution is legally sanctioned. As long as prostitution is tolerated, and governments permit it to be practiced as a legal and valid employment alternative, trafficking in and violence against women will continue.


Myths of sex trafficking:

Myth 1: Sex trafficked persons can only be foreign nationals or are only immigrants from other countries.

Fact: Sex trafficking encompasses both transnational trafficking that crosses borders and domestic or internal trafficking that occurs within a country. Statistics on the scope of trafficking are most thorough and accurate if they include both transnational and internal trafficking of native citizens as well as foreign nationals.


Myth 2: Human trafficking is another term for human smuggling.

Fact: In human smuggling, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to covertly transport them from one location to another. This generally involves transportation from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. There may be no deception involved in the (illegal) agreement. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way. In human trafficking, deception, coercion or fraud is used to traffic a person and upon arrival at destination, a trafficked person is not free but enslaved.  


Myth 3: There must be elements of physical restraint, physical force, or sexual assault when identifying a sex trafficking situation.

Fact: The legal definition of sex trafficking does not require physical restraint, bodily harm, or physical force or rape. Psychological means of control such as threats, fraud, or abuse of the legal process are sufficient elements of the crime.


Myth 4: Sex trafficking victims always come from situations of poverty or from small rural villages.

Fact: Although poverty can be a factor in human trafficking because it is often an indicator of vulnerability, poverty alone is not a single causal factor or universal indicator of a human trafficking victim. Trafficking victims can come from a range of income levels, and many may come from families with higher socioeconomic status especially when her family members or boyfriend is involved in selling her to pimp.


Myth 5: If the sex trafficked person consented to be in their initial situation or was informed about what type of  sex work they would be doing or that commercial sex would be involved, then it cannot be sex trafficking or against their will because they “knew better.”

Fact: A victim cannot consent to be in a situation of sex trafficking. Initial consent to commercial sex prior to acts of force, fraud, or coercion (or if the victim is a minor in a sex trafficking situation) is not relevant to the crime, nor is payment.


Myth 6: Foreign national trafficking victims are always undocumented immigrants coming to destination country illegally.

Fact: Foreign national trafficked persons can be in the destination country through either legal or illegal means. Although some foreign national victims are undocumented, a significant percentage may have legitimate visas for various purposes. Not all foreign national victims are undocumented.


Myth 7: Victims of sex trafficking will immediately ask for help or assistance and will self-identify as a victim of a crime.

Fact: Victims of sex trafficking often do not immediately seek help or self-identify as victims of a crime due to a variety of factors, including lack of trust, self-blame, or specific instructions by the traffickers regarding how to behave when talking to law enforcement or social services. It is important to avoid making a snap judgment about who is or who is not a trafficking victim based on first encounters. Trust often takes time to develop. Continued trust-building and patient interviewing is often required to get to the whole story and uncover the full experience of what a victim has gone through.


Myth 8: Prostitution is a victimless crime.

Fact: Prostitution creates a setting whereby crimes against women and girls become a commercial enterprise…. It is an assault when he forces a prostitute to engage in sadomasochistic sex scenes. When a pimp compels a prostitute to submit to sexual demands as a condition of employment, it is exploitation, sexual harassment, or rape — acts that are based on the prostitute’s compliance rather than her consent. The fact that a pimp or customer gives money to a prostitute for submitting to these acts does not alter the fact that child sexual abuse, rape, and/or battery occurs; it merely redefines these crimes as prostitution.


Myth 9: Legalization would better protect people in the sex industry from violence and abuse.

Fact: Regardless of prostitution’s status (legal, illegal or decriminalized) or its physical location (strip club, massage parlor, street, escort/home/hotel), prostitution is extremely dangerous for women. Homicide is a frequent cause of death…. It is a cruel lie to suggest that legalization will protect anyone in prostitution. It is not possible to protect someone whose source of income exposes them to the likelihood of being raped repeatedly, have sexual compliance to 10 to 15 buyers everyday and suffer from STDs including HIV.


Myth 10: For HIV/AIDS prevention to succeed; legal, social, economics – of sex work has to change, with repeal of criminal laws.

Fact: Even if a prostitute is being tested every week for HIV, she will test negative for at least the first 4-6 weeks and possibly the first 12 weeks after being infected…. This means that while the test is becoming positive and the results are becoming known, that prostitute may expose hundreds clients to HIV. This is under the best of circumstances with testing every week and a four-week window period. It also assumes that the prostitute will quit working as soon as she finds out the test is HIV positive, which is highly unlikely. So this is not the best approach for actually reducing harm. Also, no law forces clients to test for HIV before they approach sex worker and many clients bring HIV to sex workers who then transmit it to other clients. Instead, in order to slow the global spread of HIV/AIDS we should focus our efforts on abolishing prostitution.


Myth 11: It is estimated that if prostitution were legalized, the rape rate would decrease by roughly 25%.

Fact: Prostitution cannot eliminate rape when it itself bought rape. The connection between rape and prostitution is that women are turned into objects for men’s sexual use; they can either be bought or stolen. A culture in which women can be bought for use is one in which rape flourishes.


Myth 12: Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world – you will never end it.

Fact: Just because something has been around for a long time does not mean it’s a good thing. Slavery was a legal trade for many years, but the international community took a stand against it. Sex trafficking is a modern day form of slavery that must also be stopped. Sex trafficking exists because prostitution exists.


Myth 13: How will these women earn a living if men stop paying for sex with them? She will starve to death.

Fact: Trafficked women don’t receive the money that exchanges hands for their sexual services. This money goes directly to their traffickers, pimps and exploiters. The women themselves are kept as prisoners, their passports are confiscated and they are forced to sleep with as many as 25 men a day for nothing as they have to clear their debt.


Myth 14: Prostitution is a choice by women.

Fact: I understand that some women will and do choose to work in prostitution. However, for the vast majority of women working in prostitution, and particularly trafficked women who are coerced, deceived or forced; they do not have a choice.


Myth 15: If teenagers are voluntarily engaging in prostitution to earn money, they should not be called victims of sex crime.

Fact: As far as sex trafficking is concerned, anybody below the age of 18 years is a child. For example, a girl can have consensual sex with her boyfriend if she is above the age of 16 years but if she is lured into sex trafficking by a pimp, she becomes a victim of crime.  Child prostitution is illegal in most countries and minors who take money for sex are usually taking part in that illegal activity; nevertheless they are also victims of crime. The majority of minors who become involved in prostitution are runaway or thrown away children from abusive or otherwise dysfunctional homes. They are often lured into prostitution by sophisticated criminals who convince them not only that they will earn money to survive but also that they will be taken care of and have the secure loving environment that they lacked at home. These promises are never honored and pimps take the money a child earns on the streets and pimps engage in severe physical abuse to build a relationship of dependency.


Myth 16: All women working in prostitution, strip clubs, escort agencies and sex massage parlors choose their profession for the lifestyle and money. They are living the “Pretty Woman” dream by setting their own terms of work and keeping all the money they earn.

Fact: There is evidence that many workers in the sex trade are trapped in modern sex slavery. They are lured by a boyfriend or recruiter posing as a friend or potential employer. Some are sold into the industry by their fathers, brothers or husbands. After recruitment, these women are trapped by drug addiction and debt bondage to a pimp, gang or sex trade ring.


Myth 17: Sex workers cannot be raped.

Fact: This belief justifies violence against sex workers. Sexual transactions are for consensual activities and thus sex workers must give their permission. Sex workers have just as much of a right to give consent as does the rest of society.


The moral of the story:

1. Human trafficking is the second-largest organized crime in the world and 80 % of it is sex trafficking.


2. Every 30 seconds, one woman/girl is trafficked for sexual exploitation. Every 2 minutes, one girl child is being prepared for sexual exploitation. Only 1 to 2 percent of victims are rescued.


3.The prevailing ‘culture of silence’, ‘culture of tolerance’ and the ‘culture of non-concern’ not only permits but, promotes and perpetuates sex trafficking and gives a free hand to the traffickers to continue with impunity.


4. Complicity, complacency and corruption of the state drives global sex trafficking trade.



5. The demand for sex by men and gender inequality propagated by society are the root causes of sex trafficking besides host of other factors.


6. Humans have reached lowest level of morality by accepting sex industry as legitimate economic sector with pimps & traffickers as entrepreneurs and sex victims as commodities.


7. Sex trafficking is the leading cause of HIV epidemic worldwide.


8. There is evidence to link pornography with sex trafficking.


9. Sexual promiscuity is an inevitable consequence of biological sex drive but there are better way to deal with it including masturbation or consensual sex with willing partner (wife or girl friend or acquaintance). Prostitution and sex trafficking are certainly not the way to deal with biological sex drive.


10. Prostitution and sex trafficking are violence against women. Barring some exceptions, all sexual relationship during commercial sex work is a paid rape where alleged consent is obtained by paying money. Under no circumstances, such sexual relation be termed as consensual sex. By labeling sexual relations in sex industry as consensual sex, you are denigrating consensual sex between two adults outside sex industry. When a man and woman have consensual sex (either premarital or extramarital or marital or casual), it is implied that they are attracted towards each other. During commercial sex, man is sexually exploiting a woman and the woman is reluctantly consenting as she is getting money for survival.


11. Prostitution is not a desirable social phenomenon and is an obstacle to the ongoing development towards equality between men and women.


12. Legalization of prostitution is a failed policy and leads to increased sex trafficking. When the legal barriers disappear, so too do the social and the ethical barriers to treating women as sexual commodities.


13. As far as criminalization of sex industry is concerned, buying sex must be criminalized and selling sex must be decriminalized. That means all customers, pimps and traffickers must be prosecuted but all girls/women who are trafficked into sex industry must be considered as victims.


14. I support death penalty for pimps/traffickers through due process of law.


Dr. Rajiv Desai. MD.

March 8, 2011



Trafficking in humans for sexual exploitation has been practiced for centuries. What is new is the scale of the trade, the ages of those involved and the organization applied to the marketing. When I went into the details of sex trafficking, I heard voices of some of the world’s most silent and abused women – women who have been forced into prostitution by the men they trust. This is their story about the journey from home to captivity, from love to abuse and from honor to disgrace. I am also a victim of child trafficking during infancy traveling through various hands and various countries and I know that nobody helped me in my difficult days because traffickers have no compassion, no remorse and no faith. This is the most passionate article I have ever written and I hope that it will be appreciated by all regardless whether they agree with me or not.  

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