People who are interested in helping women live better lives should learn as much as possible about social realities that can negatively impact them. One social institution that plays a particularly powerful role in preventing women from living freely and fully is sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that involves the use of violence, debt bondage, lies, and threats to force children and adults to participate in commercial sex acts. These acts constitute a violation of the participant’s will.
By learning more about sex trafficking, we empower ourselves with the knowledge necessary to bring trafficking to an end. Consider the following 10 myths about sex trafficking:
MYTH 1. Pornography Doesn’t Have Anything To Do With Sex Traffic.
As noted in “Want to Stop Sex Trafficking? Look to America’s Porn Addiction,” the connection between pornography and sex traffic is strong. In fact, many men who visit prostitutes bring porn images to show the women they’re exploiting what they will have to do. One 2007 study found that nearly half of 854 women from nine countries became subjects of pornography while they were in the prostitution industry.
MYTH 2. Sex Traffic Is Something That Happens In Other Countries, Not The U.S.
Unfortunately, sex trafficking is disturbingly prevalent in the U.S. One particularly disquieting proof is America’s annual sports celebration, the Super Bowl. As noted by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, sex trafficking victims are brought to the city to work during the sports event. One survivor, Clemmie Greenlee, noted that she was told she would be forced to have sex with roughly 25 men per day during the event.
MYTH 3. Identifying And Helping A Victim Is Hard.
Although you might think identifying a sex traffic ring is difficult, this is not the case. In fact, being aware of these red flags can heighten your ability to determine whether someone is being held captive. Some of the red flags include an individual who is living with an employer, poor living conditions, answers that appear scripted, and an individual who appears fearful or submissive during interaction.
MYTH 4. Sex Trafficking Is Unrelated To Other Industries.
In addition to having an underground institution, sex traffickers strategically plant victims in sectors such as the massage industry. In this context, individuals visit the parlor for a massage yet also understand that they can obtain sexual services from the masseuse who is being held hostage. Other spheres where sex trafficking transpires include the escort industry, residential brothels, tourism and hotels, and sporting events.
MYTH 5. The Government Is Doing What It Should To Resolve The Problem.
We should never assume that a social problem is being resolved simply because government officials are aware that it exists. Shared Hope, a nonprofit organization designed to assist sex trafficking victims, grades each state based on the mechanisms it implements when responding to sex trafficking crimes. California currently has a D. You can find out your state’s ranking by clicking here.
MYTH 6. Sex Trafficking Must Involve Some Form Of Travel.
While the term “trafficking” does connote travel or transportation, sex trafficking does not have to involve movement across national or state borders. Sometimes transportation is a control mechanism designed to keep the victim in unfamiliar regions, but this is not always present or required.
MYTH 7. Sex Trafficking Exists Because Victims Choose It As A Way Of Life.
Sex trafficking is not a lifestyle that victims choose. Rather, high demand for sexual services causes vulnerable people to be preyed upon to satisfy this perverse demand. Adverse life circumstances such as a lack of skills, mental instability, or a need to support family members can lead an individual to perform sex work in desperation. But most victims do not actively pursue sex work because they believe it will engender of personal fulfillment or professional advancement. Rather, these victims are forced into sex work due to economic vulnerability and other life factors.
MYTH 8. Women Of All Ages Are Equally Vulnerable To Sex Trafficking.
This is not the case. In fact, age is a primary factor leading to vulnerability. Pre-teen and adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to the deception and manipulation strategies used by traffickers. Traffickers frequently target locations where they know young girls are, including schools, parks, malls, shelters, and social media sites.
MYTH 9. Poverty Is The Only Factor That Leads To Sex Trafficking.
While poverty is a leading factor that makes women vulnerable to sex trafficking, this is only one piece of the puzzle. Other risk factors include economic or natural disaster, mental or physical disabilities, and war.
MYTH 10. Sex Trafficking Victims Will Ask For Help When They Need It.
Oftentimes, sex trafficking victims are subjected to physical and psychological abuse which forces them into a position of silence and submission. Fear of retaliation can prevent victims from seeking help. In many cases, prostitutes are severely beaten if they attempt to run away and are caught.
Knowledge Is Power
While learning about the dark world of sex trafficking can be troubling, it is important to remember that knowledge is power. Now that you know how this oppressive industry works to disempower and dehumanize women, you’re ready to take action at LiveYourDream.org.
Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who found feminism in her late 20s. She has published several works on a wide range of feminist topics, including rape culture, gender identity, feminist literature, and misogynist music lyrics. Her favorite feminist books are Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In addition to volunteering with awesome organizations such as LiveYourDream.org, she enjoys doing yoga and sipping coffee while having great conversations with friends. Her objective for 2019 is working at the local level with other radical feminists to develop strategies for resistance to rape.