Statistics on sex trafficking
It is VERY difficult to get accurate numbers as this is a business that is largely underground. It is also hard to tell when a prostitute over the age of 18 is being forced and intimidated and held captive physically or psychologically or whether she is there by her own choice
Keeping that in mind, here are the most accurate statistics we could find :
- Sex trafficking is the third biggest criminal industry after drugs and arms trafficking.
- It is a $32 billion industry.
- An estimated 12 - 15 million men, women and children are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor around the world today. (this is a general trafficking statistic, not specifically sex)
- 600,000 - 1 million children and women are trafficked across borders each year for sexual servitude.
- Approximately 3 – 6 million children and women are enslaved for sex at any given time.
- The average age of a sex trafficked victim is 12-14 years old.
What is sex trafficking?
Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation (within national or across international borders), transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. Sexual trafficking is accomplished by means of fraud, deception, threat of or use of force, abuse of a position of vulnerability, and other forms of coercion. (defined by UN)
Who are the victims?
Victims of sex trafficking can be women or men, girls or boys, but the majority are women and young girls. There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of sex
- A promise of a good job or a better life in the city or another country
- A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation
- Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends desperate for money – economic pressure
- Being kidnapped by traffickers
Trafficking victims are in some way vulnerable members in society. They are usually poor, from rural areas and without education but that is not always the case.
Sex traffickers use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the victims and
the victims’ families, forced drug use and the threat of shaming their victims by revealing their activities to their family and their families’ friends.
Who are the traffickers?
- members of highly sophisticated networks of organized crime.
- individual pimps or brothel owners
- family members and friends of the trafficking victim desperate for money
- former victims of trafficking who are later used to traffic other women and children.
Often the traffickers and their victims share the same national, ethnic, or cultural background, allowing the trafficker to better understand and exploit the vulnerabilities of their victims.
There are two primary factors that drive human traffickers: high profits and low risk. This powerful combination is driving the explosive spread of human trafficking, making it one of the fastest-growing criminal industries in the world.
How it works
Once traffickers extract victims from their home community, they typically sell the children to slaveholders who deal in commercial sex–for example, pimps or the owners of strip clubs, sex bars, brothels, karaoke clubs, or massage parlors. Most traffickers have a steady relationship in place with the slaveholder; therefore, they know who the buyer will be before they recruit the child.
The slaveholder acts swiftly to take complete control of the child’s life. Passports, birth certificates, national identity cards, and any other documents of citizenship are stripped from the child’s possession. The child is kept closely guarded and locked in a room when not accompanied. Even if escape were possible, the child has no money, probably does not speak the local language, and does not know to whom he or she could turn for help. Given their past experience, enslaved children would not instinctively trust public officials or the police.
The slaveholder also generally manipulates a relationship of financial dependence with the child. Basic life necessities like food, clothing, and shelter are charged to the child’s “account.” Until that money is repaid, the child is obligated to continue in the slaveholder’s service. The child is forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day to pay off her “debt.”
Slaveholders frequently will encourage drug addictions as a means of controlling trafficked persons. This strategy binds the child to the slaveholder because the child feels compelled to work in order to maintain the feeling from drug usage. In cases where use becomes dependency, children are further tied to their trafficker to work in order to support their addiction. Some drugs also allow the child to stay up all night so they can have sex with more people.
Slaveholders control children with the constant threat of violence. Almost all trafficked children will testify that they were victims of an extreme act of violence within the first forty-eight hours of their abduction. Whether through rape or brutal beatings, slaveholders use violence to imprint their dominance. In the logic of the trafficking world, a terrified child is a compliant child. The slaveholder therefore will never let the child slip out of a state of terror.
Ranchers refer to “breaking the spirit of a wild horse”, that is how slaveholders approach child sex slaves. The sex slaves will have to learn to comply happily with whatever sexual act a client requests. The liberal application of violence early on will crack any resistance. If a client ever complains that the sex slave was less than accommodating, swift and brutal punishment will be meted out.
The threat of violence becomes a huge force in the life of a sex slave. The child knows that a failed escape attempt would result in a severe beating. Moreover, the slaveholder may threaten to harm the child’s family even if the child does manage to get away.
AIDS and trafficking
The fear of HIV/AIDS has increased the demand for virgins and children. Sex trafficking has increased the cases of HIV/AIDS and it is continued by men seeking to avoid AIDS by sleeping with young girls. It is a deadly cycle. Also there is the myth that a man can rid himself of AIDS if he has sex with a virgin. This also increases the desire for younger and younger girls. In India, government statistics put the number of people infected with HIV at 3.5million, indicating approximately three out of every 100 Indians are now infected with the virus which leads to AIDS. Almost 9 out of 10 of those people are below 45 years old.
Sex trafficking is the product of a interlocking economic, social, and cultural factors, made worse by the corrupt government enforcement of anti-trafficking laws.
The ultimate solution must include addressing the root causes of trafficking, stronger prosecution and enforcement of laws, and helping victims to recover and integrate back into society in a healthy way. The end of trafficking would also require a shift in some of society's beliefs and values about women.