What is Trafficking
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA, 2000), sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for one of three purposes:
Labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
A commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
Any commercial sex act, if the person is under 18 years of age, regardless of whether any form of coercion is involved(1).
Does Sex Trafficking Happen in the USA?
People often think sex trafficking only happens “over there” – with children being sold into slavery to pay off debts, or teen girls in Asia or Eastern Europe being kidnapped and forced to work as sex slaves. These scenarios are certainly happening around the world, but trafficking isn’t only a problem in foreign countries. Trafficking is happening right here in America, with American children.
In 2003 the FBI created the Innocence Lost Task Force to combat sex trafficking. As of October 2015, the FBI has recovered more than 4,800 children who were victims of sex trafficking (2). Sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world(3).
Sex trafficking occurs all over the United States – truck stops, suburban neighborhoods, strip clubs, big cities, schools, churches, and small towns. Cell phones and the internet have made it convenient to sell underage girls for sex, and you can order girls almost as easily as ordering a pizza
Who Are the Trafficking Victims?
There are several ways that girls and boys can become trafficked in the U.S:
A friend, boyfriend, family member, or a complete stranger will trick, threaten or coerce her into the commercial sex trade.
The most vulnerable victims are those who come from abusive homes where a girl has been abused, molested, raped, or neglected to the point that they cannot stay at home.
It has been estimated that within 48 hours of leaving home 1 out of 3 runaways will be approached by a trafficker or pimp. These runaway girls are extremely vulnerable because they are typically desperate and are willing to accept the care of a stranger in exchange for sex.