Sex trafficking can be defined as the recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision or obtaining of an individual who under force, fraud or coercion is induced to perform a commercial sex act.
Sex trafficking does not have to have some form of travel, transportation or movement across borders. At its core, sex trafficking is characterised by sexual exploitation through force, fraud or coercion.
The majority of victims of sexual exploitation are often from poorer backgrounds. Poverty makes people more susceptible to being trafficked (vulnerabilities are exacerbated). With desperate economic situations, stacked odds and a need to support families, people in these situations are likely to be lured into accepting fraudulent employment.
Once trafficked, victims often face physical and psychological violence as a constant threat. The IJM writes that, “In addition to serial rape, children and adults forced into the commercial sex trade are particularly vulnerable to physical assault from owners, pimps, recruiters and customers.”
Globally, there are over 5 million victims of sexual exploitation, slavery and trafficking. 21% of victims are children.
A pimp can make up to $150,000-$200,000 per child a year. The commercial sexual exploitation makes an estimated $99 billion of illegal profits annually.
99% of victims exploited for sex are women.50% of children who are sexually exploited are boys.
There has been a 600% increase in sex trafficking of migrants in Europe over last three years.
The average age for a victim of sex trafficking is 13.
Sexual exploitation can be carried out physically i.e. going to a hotel room the business is working out of or a brothel to purchase sex. As technology has developed, there has been an increase in the rates of cyber-sex trafficking. This means that traffickers can use social media and the digital world to exploit people, children in particular, from anywhere in the world. Sex trafficking makes a business out of sexual violence. It continues to exist across the world, particularly in countries or regions where law enforcement us weak and is unable to protect those who are vulnerable.
What are the signs of sexual exploitation?
Sex workers may appear scared or intimidated.
The individual may be transported to and from clientsIndividuals may be closely guarded.
The person may be ‘branded’ with a tattoo indicating ownership.
Sex workers may show signs of physical abuse, including bruising, scarring and cigarette burns.
The individual may be unable to keep payment and may have restricted or no access to their earnings.
The person may have a limited English (or the native language) vocabulary, restricted to sexualised words.
Multiple female foreign nationals may be living at the same address.
The person may sleep in the premise in which they work, which could indicate a brothel is operating.
A property might have male callers day and night who only stay for a short time.
There may be details of sexual activity such as cards and advertisements found nearby.