Quantcast
Connect with us

Sex trafficking in the US: 4 questions answered

Published

on

The revelations about billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sex trafficking girls, paint a grim picture of sex trafficking in the U.S. The buying and selling of human beings is strong in America more than 150 years since the end of the Civil War.

Sex trafficking, as the federal government defines it, is “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act” by means of “force, fraud, or coercion.” This is a form of modern-day slavery.

Found in massage parlors, escort services, residential brothels and street prostitution, some might be victims for weeks and others for years.

As someone who studies human trafficking, I feel that it’s important for the public to understand how it manifests in the U.S. today. While there’s still a great deal that is unknown about sex trafficking, research studies and nonprofits have been able to gather telling data on this industry’s victims and perpetrators.

1. Where does sex trafficking happen?

Sex trafficking tends to occur in motels and impoverished neighborhoods along the interstate highway system as well as in major urban centers. Some of the busiest corridors of the interstate include I-5 in the West, I-95 in the East and I-80, stretching from coast to coast.

ADVERTISEMENT

Interstate highway map of the continental U.S.
Stacey Lynn Payne/shutterstock.com

The nonprofit Polaris operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which takes tips on sex and labor trafficking. Although the Polaris data are not from a random-sample survey, they shed light on types of sex trafficking in the U.S. In 2017, Polaris received more than 6,000 hotline tips about sex trafficking across America. Among these data, the top venues for sex trafficking included illicit massage parlors, hotels and motels, and residential brothels.

The National Association of Truck Stop Operators has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign. The National Association of Truck Stop Operators offers trainings to help truckers, truck stop owners and employees identify the signs of human trafficking, such as malnourishment, lack of eye contact and disorientation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hotel chains like Marriott are training their employees as well.

2. Who are the victims?

Reliable data on the number of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are hard to come by.

In the U.S., studies show that most victims of sex trafficking are young women and girls. They are, on average, 19 years old.

ADVERTISEMENT

Risk factors for sex trafficking include a history of child abuse, substance abuse, poverty, involvement in child protective services, involvement in juvenile detention and prior sexual exploitation.

Runaway and homeless youth are especially at risk for sex trafficking. A study conducted in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Phoenix found that 14% of homeless youth identified themselves as victims of sex trafficking. Among these sex trafficking victims, 33% identified as LGBTQ.

A young person is more likely to meet her trafficker for the first time online rather than in person, due to the rise of social media.

ADVERTISEMENT

3. Who are the traffickers and the johns?

Men who purchase commercial sex come from all walks of life.

One comparative study on men and their lifetime history of paying for sex found that 4.9% of men in Tampa, Florida, said they had ever paid for sex. Among those men who paid for sex in Tampa, men aged 41 to 70 were most likely to pay for sex, making up about 13% of the total.

ADVERTISEMENT

Traffickers include mom-and-pop operations, crime rings, gangs and cartels. Sometimes, when a victim of sex trafficking has been groomed enough, she becomes “the bottom,” helping her trafficker recruit other victims.

Research shows that modern-day slaveholders have a complicated mindset, condescending and paternalistic, not necessarily one of pure evil. Slaveholders can think they are doing a favor to the enslaved, by taking care of them, giving them food and shelter, and even “protecting” them from a world in which they would otherwise be disposable.

4. How much money does the commercial sex economy generate?

A 2014 study of sex trafficking in seven major U.S. cities found that revenues from underground commercial sex ranged from US$39.9 million in Denver to $290 million in Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT

Although many experts suspect that major sporting events, like the Super Bowl, might encourage the demand for commercial sex, preliminary research suggests the effect is negligible.

The breadth of sex trafficking in the U.S. has prompted federal responses. The FBI has organized Operation Cross Country, a collaboration of dozens of field offices and hundreds of local law enforcement organizations. In October 2017, Operation Cross Country XI conducted a nationwide sting leading to the freeing of 84 minors and the arrest of 120 traffickers.

ADVERTISEMENT

With better data collection methods and a stronger national coordinated effort, the U.S. could eventually come closer to the day when modern slavery is no more.

This is an updated version of an article originally published on March 8, 2019.The Conversation

Monti Datta, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Richmond

ADVERTISEMENT

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump ramps up new Twitter attack on four female Democratic lawmakers — raging they are ‘weak & insecure’

Published

on

Faced with a continuing firestorm over last Sunday's racist Twitter attack on four Democratic lawmakers -- who all happen to be women of color -- President Donald Trump was again returned to Twitter to attack the women instead of letting the issue die.

Moments after he used Twitter to attack the Washington Post for reporting on the turmoil he created -- which has been unversally condemned by Democrats and conservatives alike -- the president thought it was a good time to add fuel to the fire.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump launches furious attack on Washington Post for new report about his racist tweet debacle: ‘Presidential harassment!’

Published

on

President Donald Trump launched yet another attack on the Washington Post on Sunday morning, accusing the paper of "Presidential harassment!" for reporting on the fall-out from his racist tweets and his equally racist rally in North Carolina.

Responding to the Post's report that Kellyanne Conway was forced to tell the president that he had set off  a firestorm last Sunday with his tweets attacking four Democratic lawmakers, the president pushed back using his old stand-by: "Fake News."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera turns his back on Trump after racist furor: His ‘critics were much more right than I’

Published

on

Deep in a report on the fissures Donald Trump created between himself and some of his defenders, after he launched a racist attack on four Democratic lawmakers that led to an equally racist chant at a North Carolina presidential rally, Fox News contributor Gerald Rivera admitted that he now finds it near impossible to defend the president.

In an interview with the New York Times that came after Rivera blew up on a fellow Fox News host over the "send her back" chant aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) the longtime Fox personality said he has all but given up on Trump.

Continue Reading
 
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

Join Me. Try Raw Story Investigates for $1. Invest in Journalism. Escape Ads.
close-image