Sex trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally. The Federal Trafficking Victims and Protection Act of defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person compelled to engage in such acts is under 18 years of age.
However, we know that human trafficking is the fastest growing enterprise in the world. In New York State, more than 4, underage youth are bought, sold and trafficked for sexual purposes and profit each night.
Adults, teens, and children can all be victims of sex trafficking and can be trafficked from abroad, or within their own communities in the United States. Though trafficking exists among people of all races, religions, and ethnicities — racial, economic and gender inequality make certain populations disproportionately vulnerable. Common recruiting locations include public places such as shopping malls, courtrooms and bus stations; youth shelters where runaway and homeless youth gather; and in the vicinity of schools and playgrounds.
According to the FBI, girls can be trafficked as young as 12 years old; boys and transgender youth between the ages of The majority of victims in the U. Pimps initially lure their victims with false promises of a better life, a job, warmth, intimacy and gifts.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline receives reports of cases of human trafficking in all 50 states and Washington D. Sex trafficking commonly takes place through online escort services like backpage. It also takes place in residential brothels, brothels disguised as massage parlors or spas and in street prostitution. Also, traffickers provide security including food and shelter. If a victim escapes, they are often unable to support themselves, have few shelter options, and lack a support system.
Victims face many other challenges, including: Consequently, victims often return to their traffickers time and again. Without addressing the systemic issues that allow trafficking to exist, including lack of education and opportunities, we will never fully eradicate the problem. According to Polaris, these are some of the most common signs of human trafficking: Punishment for traffickers and buyers is minimal.
Buyers are rarely charged or convicted for solicitation or pandering, let alone statutory rape or child endangerment. In , New York created a statewide system of Trafficking Intervention Courts designed to assist individuals charged with prostitution and related crimes.
Recognizing these individuals as victims rather than criminals, judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers work together to link victims with the services they need to break the cycle of exploitation and avoid jail time. The TVPJA provides greater protection or victims, particularly sexually exploited children; increases accountability for buyers and traffickers who fuel this criminal industry; and defends those trafficked from criminal prosecution.