Combating Sex Trafficking

Introduction

Sex trafficking is a prevalent problem in America and across the world. Greenbaum et al. (566) identify it as a major global health and human rights issue that has proven difficult to deal with. The practice causes serious physical and mental health problems to the victims. While sex trafficking has men as victims, according to Kotrla (182), the vice significantly affects women.  This paper argues that whereas significant legislative efforts have been made to provide relief, there is more that needs to be done both at an individual and governmental levels.

Description of the problem

Sex trafficking is a modern form of slavery. As Hernandez et al. (119) define it, sex trafficking is human trafficking for sexual exploitation. According to the authors, the victim is forced into a situation where they are partially or wholly dependent on the trafficker and then used by the individuals to offer sexual services. The traffickers lure the victims by giving false promises. The politically and economically marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable. With the recent growth of the internet, the demand and supply of sex slaves has increased. The infrastructure has eased communication and the process of completing a transaction between the trafficker and the customer. As Weitzer (226) observes, a common way of marketing the victims online is by use of social media, dating sites, and online advertisements.

Sex trafficking is dominant in commercial sex trade including prostitution and pornography. In his article, Sexual trafficking in the United States: A domestic problem with transnational dimensions, Hodges (144), describes where the victims are taken after being trafficked. The author argues that “sex slaves often end up in residential brothels, strip clubs, hotels, and pornographic video recording places and on the streets for prostitution.” This quote shows how big the crisis is. According to the author also, in most cases, the traffickers entice poor women with overseas jobs, either as waitresses or domestic workers. Once they travel abroad, the unsuspecting individuals are subjected to beatings and rape before they are recruited into their new business.

The difficulties associated with solving the problem

Solving the problem of sex trafficking faces a range of difficulties. Poverty and Unemployment, and Tolerance of commercial sex have, particularly, made it almost impossible to eradicate the menace. Greenbaum et al. (568) observe that “the bigger percentage of sex trafficking victims are enticed with job offerings since they don’t have a way to make a living.” The authors, thus, imply that it is due to their desperation that they easily fall into the traps of greedy individuals. On the other hand, in the contemporary world, a majority of countries have legalized commercial sex so long as those who practice do it out of their own choice. It is very hard to determine whether a person practicing commercial sex does it out of choice or coercion.

The prevalent international sex trafficking is also a big challenge. Happening across national borders, it makes it hard for any single country to fight the menace. Affirming the importance of nations uniting in the fight, Hernandez and Rudolph (4) state that “international cooperation is needed for the investigation, prosecution and conviction of the traffickers.” This quote is important as it explains the exact areas that governments need to work together. However, trafficking varies greatly globally. According to Kotrla (184), differences in cultures, economics and religions, and differences in judicial structures make act as hindrances to global cooperation. Additionally, being a black market and due to its international nature, it is challenging to know the extent of the problem.

Legal attempts to provide relief to the victims

Internationally, the 2013 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons came up with a universal trafficking definition and called upon all countries to prevent and combat the problem as well as support the victims (Weitzer, 225). This agreement helped many countries to strengthen their laws against human trafficking, and sex trafficking in particular.

The federal government has made several efforts to curb the spread of the vice. One of the laws that seek to protect people from trafficking is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. As Weitzer (226) explains, the law makes it criminal for anyone to “recruit, harbor, transport, provide or obtain an individual to give sexual services through fraud, force or coercion or if the person induced to engage in the act is a minor.” This description is important as it creates an understanding of the scope the law operates within.

In 2017, the government enacted the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) Miller-Perrin et al. (138). The law criminalizes the promotion or facilitation of prostitution by websites. However, as Miller-Perrin (138) explain, the act has not been efficient in punishing traffickers but rather threatens legitimate free online speech. Also, the U.S Department of State published the “Trafficking in Persons Report.” The report offers suggestions for countries to comply with “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” under the UN protocol. Several countries including South Korea have already implemented the American suggestions.

Recommendations for solving the problem

To effectively combat this problem, there are several things that both the government and individuals can do. Firstly, the government should put in place stricter censorship initiatives. It can, for example, implement a censorship program that blocks sex-related content from streaming into homesteads with minors. According to Hodge (147), such as step can protect “girls under the age of 18 years who can easily fall prey in the online space”. The government should also work towards harmonization. It should put in place efforts to share information with other states to align existing and proposed laws and policies to combat sex trafficking on an international level.

At a personal level, everyone should familiarize themselves with the indicators of sexual trafficking to ease the identification of a potential trafficking victim. The human trafficking awareness training can be beneficial to an individual in learning the indicators (Greenbaum et al., 571). Many people perceive Sex trafficking as a distant phenomenon yet it happens in our neighborhoods and communities. It is everyone’s’ duty, therefore, to also report any suspicions to law enforcers. One can also make donations towards anti-trafficking campaigns through the various organizations fight the vice. Lastly, for the employers, they can provide jobs, internships and training for the victims.

Conclusion

If not handled effectively, sex trafficking will evolve to become a dangerously big crisis in the society. As much as the victims bear the direct effects of the evil practices, the larger society in a way or the other is affected. It is therefore, the time that individual, communal, national and international efforts should be mobilized against the monster that has enslaved many innocent people.

References

Greenbaum, Jordan, James E. Crawford-Jakubiak, and Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect. “Child sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation: health care needs of victims.” Pediatrics 135.3 (2015): 566-574.

Hernandez, Diego, and Alexandra Rudolph. “Modern day slavery: What drives human trafficking in Europe?.” European Journal of Political Economy 38 (2015): 118-139.

Hodge, David R. “Sexual trafficking in the United States: A domestic problem with transnational dimensions.” Social Work 53.2 (2008): 143-152.

Kotrla, Kimberly. “Domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States.” Social work 55.2 (2010): 181-187.

Miller-Perrin, Cindy, and Sandy K. Wurtele. “Sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children.” Women & Therapy 40.1-2 (2017): 123-151.

Weitzer, Ronald. “Human trafficking and contemporary slavery.” Annual review of sociology 41 (2015): 223-242.

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