Sex trafficking – the real world danger

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What is sex trafficking? Who is in danger of becoming a victim? Where does it occur and can you prevent yourself from becoming a victim? These are all questions that you may have asked yourself or if you haven’t, maybe you should. Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States.

The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex trafficking in two aspects: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” (sharedhope.org). Simply put, it is a form of slavery that involuntarily places individuals in situations where they are forced to have sex with strangers for the benefit of the trafficker.

Anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking but traffickers primarily target women and children. One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. People who migrate to a country illegally, minors who are homeless or run away from home, or individuals who live in poverty, are also targeted because they are vulnerable and in need of support and can be easily manipulated because they are desperate. Potential traffickers range from pimps, to business owners to friends/family members and may use physical and/or physiological methods of control. Considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, in the United States alone, the top twenty cities for sex trafficking include: Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Long Island, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

How can you take precautions to lessen the risk of being victimized? The most important thing is to remain educated on the subject; websites such as polarisproject.org and sharedhope.org are only a few of many sources you can rely on. Beware of making decisions while intoxicated and do NOT trust strangers while inebriated. Listen to your gut instinct and watch out for signs of possessive behavior or unrealistic promises. Travel with friends to unknown locations or when traveling at night, and of course never hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in danger.

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