Problem of Sex Trafficking in Modern World

Not too long ago, the idea of slavery seemed like an event of the past. However, researchers have found modern day slavery to be a disastrous reality. Human trafficking is a global issue occurring in countries all around the world.

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Although it is assumed that these kinds of activities may only occur in third world countries, it is just as prevalent in developed, civilized countries as well. Today, millions of women, children, and men are trafficked all around the world and forced into labor. In 2017, roughly one in seven children who reportedly went missing in the United States were lured into sex trafficking. Traffickers appeal to their victims with false promises, attractive job offers such as modeling or dancing, manipulation, and threats. Processes of finding victims can happen in disguise in public places or online through private messages on social media. The situations for each victim vary immensely. Some may be in this business for a couple days, weeks, months, or sometimes even years. It is important that research continue in order to understand every aspect of human trafficking and to lower the rate of victims in this dangerous business. Quantitative research such as surveying the general public on their knowledge of human trafficking and specifically sex-trafficking, will have the ability to increase awareness programs and spread knowledge about the signs of trafficking so that victims can be brought to safety. Furthermore, an ethnographic study of the facilities and help services provided to victims who have escaped trafficking can help researchers analyze the steps that are being taken to aid in the healing process of these individuals and reveal if these rehabilitation centers need improving.

Human trafficking is the most common form of slavery in today’s society. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is now the world’s second most profitable criminal business. About eighty percent of all forms of human trafficking involve sexual exploitation and favors, which is referred to sex-trafficking. Anyone can be lured into the trafficking industry no matter what race, gender, social class, or age an individual belongs to. Researchers have found that millions of people around the world, including men, women, and children, are trafficked every year. However, trafficking of minors has seemed to catch the eye of many individuals. Child sex-trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act.  Many people think of the trafficking business as one that only occurs in foreign countries. However, the United States is considered one of the top destinations for victims of child sex-trafficking. In a social science journal by Kimberly Kotrla, it states that sex-trafficking in the United States is booming and successful due to the culture of tolerance the country has learned to endure (Kotrla, 2010). Seeing that this issue is prevalent and growing, Kotrla also stresses the importance of awareness of this topic for social workers and law enforcement. It is a necessity that research is conducted in order to test the knowledge of these individuals so that proper care can be provided to identified victims.

Despite the attempted to increase awareness of sex-trafficking in the United States, there is still a lot to learn about preventions and actions towards stopping such a large criminal business. Many tend to ignore the idea that modern day slavery still exists which creates a sort of ignorance to these sorts of issues. Sex-trafficking is one of the issues in which a great amount of individuals do not have a lot of knowledge about. On American soil, the biggest problem concerning human trafficking is the fact that individuals tend to view this problem as one that only occurs in places like Russia, Asia, or Thailand. A study conducted by Jennifer Cole and Ginny Sprang was comprised of open-ended and closed-ended phone survey questions in which they tested the knowledge of experts on the issue of sex-trafficking. Results from this research showed that individuals located in metropolitan areas were more likely to know information about sex-trafficking than those located in other regions (Cole, Sprang, 2014-2015). In addition to this study, another was conducted to analyze the importance for individuals to understand the different forms of trafficking. Administered by Julie Kaye, John Winterdyk, and Lara Quarterman, surveys revealed the lack of knowledge and seriousness many individuals perceive this issue to be (Kaye, Winterdyk, Quarterman, 2014).

Victims of sex-trafficking are forced to perform sexual acts against their will in these criminal business settings and markets. This often happens when they are lured through fraud, fake jobs, and sometimes victims are even forced and brought in against their will. Though human trafficking has the ability to span all kinds of populations, there are some circumstances or vulnerabilities that lead to a greater chance to susceptibility to victimization and human trafficking, more specifically sex-trafficking. While not inclusive of all vulnerabilities, the following highlights a few risk factors for victims of human trafficking. Although there is no single profile for trafficking victims, trafficking occurs to adults and minors in rural, suburban, or urban communities across the country. A study created and conducted by Rebecca Walker and Treasa Gavin concluded that race and ethnicity plays a role in how individuals are trafficked. Furthermore, race and ethnicity can contribute to a factor of economical struggles which makes individuals more susceptible to these kinds of dangerous businesses (Walker, Gavin, 2018). Similarly to the nonspecific categorization of victims, there is no ideal profile for traffickers. Stacey Diane A. Litam and Jesse Edward Bach found that men who participate in this business and become pimps are “normal” men. Some are married, have other jobs, and some are even in educational programs (Litam, Bach, 2017). Furthermore, researchers have been able to get a closer look into the thought process of many traffickers and the work that goes into this business; this can be seen in a study conducted by Jennifer Blank and Emily Troshynski (Blank, Troshynski, 2008). These researchers gathered information from people who support human trafficking, engage in human trafficking, and keep it alive in their society.

There are many ways in which individuals can be lured into the trafficking business. Usually, they are promised high paying jobs, loving relationships, and great opportunities to expand their future. Traffickers were originally limited to finding victims around the streets in order to lure individuals into the trafficking business. However, today it has become extremely easy to get in contact with young individuals online because of the high prevalence of social media between the younger generations. It is now common for traffickers to target victims through some social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Craigslist. A study conducted by Shana M. Judge reviewed many ads on Craigslist over a long period of time. Results pointed out that Craigslist switches to a manual layout of ads that lead to a critical downfall in illegal ad material, temporarily restricting online retailing of commercial sex by advertisers (Judge, 2018).

Freedom is by far one of the most important, valuable rights given to each individual in the United States. No person should ever have to experience being forced and coerced into labor against their will where they are given no choice but to surrender their freedom. Victims who have experienced violent situations and traumatic occurrences in the past are more vulnerable to future exploitation. The needs of victims of trafficking are among the most involved of all crime victims. Victims of this kind of serious crime usually require an integrative approach to solutions and to addressing their experiences, medical needs, immigration, and other legal concerns. Safety, shelter, childcare, health services, and other kinds of basic everyday needs are a significant part of rehabilitation after becoming a victim of trafficking. As a result, those who specialize in assistance of victims never turn down an individual who has been a victim of human trafficking no matter what legal status they possess. In recent years, the number of individuals convicted and victims offered help after experiencing such horrible trauma have both increased (Collett, Gozdziak, 2005).

As discussed previously, sex-trafficking is such a common act occurring not only in less developed countries, but also in the United States. As a result, it is vital for people around the world to recognize and understand the signs of human trafficking. Quantitative research such as surveying would produce results portraying the knowledge individuals contain about sex-trafficking. Such surveys could be conducted in which participants are asked a variety of questions such as true or false and multiple choice. Questions would be similar to:

True or False:

  • The result of most instances of human trafficking cases are a form of modern day slavery.
  • Human trafficking is illegal and is a federal crime in the United States.
  • Identifying and reporting sightings that could potentially be human trafficking should be a part of everyone’s duty as a citizen of the United States.
  • Human trafficking purposes are not for sexual exploitation only forced labor.
  • Multiple Choice
  • What should you do if you think you have witnessed possible trafficking or related crime?
  • What are signs of sex-trafficking?
  • Roughly, about how many human-trafficking victims are there in the United States?
  • What kinds of human trafficking do you believe exist in the United States?

When conducting this research, it is important that the questions are designed in a way that is clear and concise so that the most accurate answers can be recorded. Furthermore, it may be useful to ask basic personalized questions for each surveyor to answer. This would include which age group they fall into, gender, and if possible, where they have heard of human trafficking before the survey. The main reasons for conducting this survey is to see the extent of knowledge individuals of different age groups have on human trafficking in the United States. Also, it is critical for people to understand that this issue is real and does not only happen to adults but to children too. Research has already been conducted for government officials, social workers, and law enforcement, but not much as be gathered about the general public.

Based on the answers of each individual, researchers will be able to see the extent to which people actually believe slavery, more specifically human trafficking, is a modern day issue in the United States. Moreover, it is vital to understand what kinds of human trafficking citizens think are taking place in the United States. Results of the surveys conducted can help researchers shape the future educational programs and campaigns to raise awareness of the different forms of human trafficking. By changing awareness of this issue, people will be able to recognize the signs of human trafficking and avoid becoming victims. Also, if individuals understand all the aspects of human-trafficking, they could potentially help save someone trapped in the trafficking market.

A significant amount of research on this topic is still needed in order to determine patterns, frequency, and specific ways to combat the issue of sex-trafficking of minors in the United States. Qualitative research that examines the rehabilitation centers and assisting services provided to victims after experiencing these traumatic events would be extremely useful. To conduct this research, an ethnographic field study would be a valuable step to gaining important information to determine how effective victim services are. Ethnography is an ideal process for this topic because of its ability to measure the sociological factors that play important roles in the trafficking of victims such as social norms, cultural values, and status of certain locations. Through observations of these facilities, researchers would have the ability to look at the operation of services provided to victims overcoming trauma that comes with the experiences they have dealt with. It is important to understand this information because helping victims who have escaped the trafficking business in which they were forced into is the hardest part of the process. It takes time, patience, and the right attitude to help victims correctly and in the best way possible.

In order to successfully complete this research, it is important to pay attention to the environment of the rehabilitation centers. Before beginning the ethnographic study, it is vital to take note of the external factors such as the name of the rehabilitation center, the location, the number of victims, and the number of workers. Following this information, the observer should take time to listen to conversations between victims and workers, observe the environment in which victims are placed, and the attitudes of each individual. After designating a significant period of time to just observing, it is important to record everything that was noticed in order to accurately analyze the rehabilitation centers. Following this step, the observer should record his/her thoughts during the time spent observing the particular area. Overall, while conducting ethnographic studies, it is important not to be obstructive to the environment that is being observed. It is a necessity to use eyes to observe interactions and connections and ears to observe conversation between individuals.

An ethnographic field study can produce a large amount of data that can enhance the knowledge of a particular topic. An inductive analysis of research is important in order to shorten raw observations into a brief summary of occurrences. Furthermore, it is vital to establish connections between the objectives of the ethnographic field study and what data was actually collected. Processes such as coding are necessary in order to condense the collected data and create labels and categories to better understand the information. After collecting the data from this study, it may be useful to compare with other studies in order to identify consistent themes throughout similar social and physical organizations. In conclusion, an ethnographic study of the services provided to aid victims heal is vital to improving the integration process for these individuals after experiencing traumatic events like sex-trafficking.

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