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HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING

Identifying & Reporting

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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What Is Human Sex Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human sex trafficking as human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.  A victim is forced, in one of a variety of ways, into a situation of dependency on their trafficker(s) and then used by said trafficker(s) to give sexual services to customers.  There are three types of activities defined as sex trafficking crimes: acquisition, transportation and exploitation; this includes child sex tourism (CST), domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) or other kinds of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and prostitution.

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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Who Does Sex Trafficking Affect?

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Those being trafficked include young children, teenagers, men and women and can be domestic citizens or foreign nationals.

Especially vulnerable are homeless and runaways. The National Runaway Switchboard said in 2009 that one-third of runaway youths in America will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours on the streets. 


In 2003, 1,400 minors were arrested for prostitution, 14% of whom were younger than 14 years old. By 2007, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services estimated that New York City is home to more than 2,000 sexually exploited children under 18.  At least 85 percent of these youths statewide have had some contact with the child welfare system, mostly through abuse or neglect proceedings.


In 2013, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) documented over 10,000 reports of child sex trafficking. They say that websites such as Backpage encourage dissemination of child sex trafficking content on its website.  On average, Backpage sends NCMEC 300 ads a month that it believes involves children, which the NCMEC calls inadequate.

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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How Does  It Happen?

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Types of sex trafficking

  • Commercial sexual exploitation of children:  A commercial transaction that involves the sexual exploitation of a child, such as the prostitution of children and child pornography.  Especially vulnerable are homeless and runaways.  The National Runaway Switchboard said in 2009 that one-third of runaway youths in America will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours on the streets.
  • Pimp-Controlled trafficking:  The victim is controlled by a single pimp physically, psychologically, and/or emotionally.  A common process is for the pimp to first gain the trust of the victim, called the grooming stage. They seek to make the victim dependent on them. Once the victim is comfortable, the pimp moves to the seasoning stage, where they will ask the victim to perform sexual acts for the pimp, which the victim may do because they believe it is the only way to keep the trafficker's affection. The requests progress from there and it can be difficult for the victim to escape.

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  • Gang trafficking:  The victim is controlled by more than one person.  Many gangs are turning to sex trafficking as it is seen as safer and more lucrative than drug trafficking.  A victim controlled by gang trafficking may be sexually exploited by gang members as well as sold outside of the gang.  They may tattoo or "brand" their victims to show their ownership over them.
  • Survival sex:  The victim is not necessarily controlled by a certain person but feels they have to perform sexual acts in order to obtain basic commodities to survive.  They are considered a victim of sex trafficking if they are below the age of consent and are legally unable to consent to the sexual acts.
  • Familial trafficking:  The victim is controlled by family members who allow them to be sexually exploited in exchange for something, such as drugs or money. Usually, it begins with one family member and spreads from there.
  • Forced marriages:  It is estimated that hundreds of Pakistani girls in New York have been flown to Pakistan to undergo forced marriages; those who resist are threatened and coerced.

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Sex trafficking venues

  • Internet: Traffickers often use interactive computer services to advertise their victims. The same victim will often be advertised across multiple forms of media, including classified ads, social media, chat rooms, message boards, text message and patrolling streets.

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  • Hotels and Motels: Hotels and motels are a major venue for domestic sex trafficking. Traffickers can quickly change locations to avoid detection and buyers prefer the anonymity. Trafficking in hotels tend to be pimp-based, with most victims being US citizens. Many hotel staff and employees are not trained, and many hotel owners avoid making a public stand because they do not want their names associated with sex trafficking.​
  • Massage parlors: Prostitutes in illegal massage parlors may be forced to work out of apartment complexes for many hours a day. Many clients may not realize that some of the women who work in these massage sex parlors are actually forced in prostitution. The women may initially be lured into the US under false pretenses. In huge debt to their 'owners', they are forced to earn enough to eventually "buy" their freedom.
  • Sporting events: During big sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Arnold Classic, US Open, NBA Final, and the Olympics, the demand for sex trafficking, goes up. In some cases, victims are trafficked even across state lines, to meet the demand.
  • Brothels: any premises where people engage in sexual activity with prostitutes. For legal and/or cultural reasons, establishments often describe themselves as massage parlors, bars, strip clubs, body rub parlours, and studios. Sex work in a brothel is considered safer than street prostitution.

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  • Truck stops: Truck stops such as rest areas and welcome centers are centers for sex trafficking. They are often geographically isolated and insulated from the communities, making it easier for traffickers and customers to avoid detection and harder for victims to escape. Truck stops are easier for traffickers to frequently relocate without arousing suspicion and attracts a customer base of men who have been traveling and are in search of commercial sex.


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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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What Is Being Done to Stop It?


Each state has its own laws for dealing with human sex trafficking within its own state, in addition to laws on a federal level. Prosecution may occur under laws that specifically address sex trafficking, or under other laws such as laws prohibiting commercial sex services, including prosecution for any acts of abuse or unlawful detention of the victims of sex offenses.

In 31 states, victims of sex trafficking may potentially be charged with crimes they were forced to commit.

1998

  • Shared Hope International (SHI), a nonprofit was founded by former Congresswoman Linda Smith, to prevent sex trafficking and restore and bring justice to women and children who have been victimized through sex trafficking.  
  • Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) is a non-profit organization, founded in 1998 by Rachel Lloyd and is based in Harlem, New York City, to provide services to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women, typically underage youth exploited by pimps and traffickers. 

1999

ECPAT-USA was the first organization to advocate for U.S. Defense Department training to protect children from sexual exploitation. 

2000

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) is a federal statute passed into law in 2000 by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Clinton. The law was later reauthorized by presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump. In addition to its applicability to US citizens, it has the ability to authorize protections for undocumented immigrants who are victims of severe forms of trafficking and violence. Stipulations do apply though.

2001

2002

In 2002, Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon founded a non-government organization called Polaris Project to combat human trafficking.

2003

ECPAT-USA developed the first local multi-stakeholder anti-trafficking project in New York City in partnership with IOFA. They launched the first federally funded human trafficking task force that became the model for federally funded human trafficking task forces across the country.

2004

ECPAT-USA was the first to obtain the partnership of the hospitality industry in the United States in adopting the Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct, when Carlson Companies signed it in 2004.

2005

ECPAT-USA published the first report about the disparity in services available to foreign and U.S. victims of trafficking and exploited children, WHO IS THERE TO HELP US? How the System Fails Sexually Exploited Girls in the United States Examples from Four American Cities.

2007

  • In 2007, Polaris instituted the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) where callers can report tips and receive information on human trafficking. Polaris' website and hotline informs the public about where cases of suspected human trafficking have occurred within the United States. The website records calls on a map.
  • The U.S. Senate designated January 11th as a National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness in an effort to raise consciousness about this global, national and local issue. 
  • ECPAT-USA was the lead organization in providing information to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about how the United States government implements international treaties protecting children. Alternative Report 2007 
  • Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition (CORRC)  was founded in 2007 to mobilize Central Ohio in the fight against human trafficking.

2008

2009

Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) formed in Oklahoma, to train truck drivers about the results of human trafficking and to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.

2010

  • In 2010 Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP) was founded by author, advocate and survivor, Theresa Flores, to partner with local organizations and distribute millions of bars of soap wrapped with a red band that gives the National Human Trafficking Hotline number — 1 (888) 3737-888 — and resources to high-risk motels.
  • The Department of Homeland Security launches the Blue Campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking, which includes publicizing the NHTRC hotline number.
  • The Department of Defense launches an initiative to train personnel and contractors on human trafficking which leads to international tips reported by military personnel abroad.
  • In 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, President Barack Obama proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. 

2011

  • Truckers Against Trafficking partners with Pilot Flying J to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.
  • The National Human Trafficking Resource
    Center (NHTRC) hotline receives attention from the media and is highlighted on CNN’s Freedom Project, MSNBC, and other mainstream media outlets.
  • The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) promotes the NHTRC through their new Presidential Initiative to fight human trafficking. Call volume increases 200% in New Mexico, 91% in Virginia, and 87% in Michigan, states where the hotline is widely publicized by the Attorney General’s Office.

2012

  • The Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force was created by executive order on March 29, 2012.  It coordinates efforts between 11 departments to identify and rescue victims, to coordinate investigation of human trafficking cases, and to provide the services and treatment for victims.
  • On June 27, 2012 Governor Kasich signed in to law, H.B. 262 [The Ohio Human Trafficking Act of 2012], which raised the penalty for committing the crime of human trafficking to a first-degree felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10–15 years, created a diversion program for juvenile victims to receive protection and treatment, and allows for adult victims of human trafficking with prior convictions of prostitution or solicitation to have their records expunged.
  • ECPAT-USA was the lead organization in providing information to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about how the United States government implements international treaties protecting children. Alternative Report 2012
  • The National Human Trafficking Resource
    Center hotline (NHTRC)  experiences a 47% increase in call volume across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Carolina, states that had received intensive training from the NHTRC.
  • The White House publicizes the NHTRC hotline number as part of their End Human Trafficking Campaign.

2013

Truckers Against Trafficking partners with Truckload Carriers Association to recognize and report instances of human trafficking.

2014

  • In 2014, The US Department of Defense funded the Memex Program with the explicit goal of combating human trafficking via domain-specific search. The advanced search capacity, including its ability to reach into the dark web has already allowed for prosecution of human trafficking cases, although they can be difficult to prosecute due to the fraudulent tactics of the human traffickers.  
  • November 17, 2014, Wyndham Hotel Group, the world's largest hotel company with approximately 7,590 hotels and part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN), announced its continued commitment to preventing human trafficking by partnering with Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors.  Press Release


2015

In 2015, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline received reports of more than 5,000 potential human trafficking cases in the U.S. Children comprise up to one-third of all victims, while women make up more than half. The Hotline can communicate with different people no matter their language as it serves in more than 200 languages.   

2016


2017

In September 2017, two anti-trafficking bills were proposed during a session of congress: the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (S. 1693) (SESTA) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 1865). Although US Senators Rob Portman, Richard Blumenthal and Claire McCaskill authored SESTA specifically to strengthen existing laws combating sex trafficking, the bill was mainly met with negative responses online, with many expressing concerns that they would endanger online free speech and social media by gutting Section 230, a law that enables platforms relied on by many users on the internet.

2018

On April 11, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act into law, which is aimed at closing websites that enable the crime to occur, and prosecuting their owners and users.

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

Targeting Sports Events

During Super Bowls, the ECPTA-USA runs campaigns to raise awareness of sex trafficking, mobilizes volunteers and trains people involved in tourism. During the Super Bowl XLVIII, authorities arrested 45 pimps and rescued 25 child prostitutes. During Super Bowl XLIX, authorities led a sting operation called National Day of Johns and arrested almost 600 people and rescued 68 victims.

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Getting The Word Out

Along with these initiatives libraries across the United States are beginning to contribute to human trafficking awareness by turning into educational centers for those who are not aware of this issue. They are collaborating with other organizations to train staff members to spot human trafficking victims and find ways to help them.

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Within Our Own Community

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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What Is Human Trafficking?

Wikipedia defines human trafficking as "the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others."  Trafficking is officially defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power of a position of vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation.

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