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National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month – Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

The month of January is designated as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

2 years ago around this time, Rima Nashashibi, founder and president of Global Hope 365, together with Orange County Supervisor chairman Doug Chaffee and his staff authored a resolution that was adopted unanimously by the Orange County Board of Supervisors recognizing January as National Trafficking and Modern Slavery Prevention Month.

On a national level, every January, the Department of State raises awareness of human trafficking domestically and abroad through U.S. embassies and consulates.

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

This year, we would like to speak to the correlation of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking. We talk a lot about sex trafficking, but not nearly enough about prostitutes. Prostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked. A study from the United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimated 3.8 million adults and 1 million children were victims of forced sexual exploitation in 2016 around the world. 99% are women and girls

But what about the sex buyer? Why aren’t we working towards reducing demand at the forefront of efforts to de-escalate prostitution? Why isn't there greater accountability? Why are these sex buyers frequently given nothing more than a slap on the wrist? There would be fewer persons pushed into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation if there was no demand. Demand and supply. It's a big deal. Big money. It's as simple as that.

Sporting Events and Trafficking

It’s 2023. We don't talk enough about prostitution. According to recent media reports, "Prostitutes charge Davos attendees $2500.00 per night as sex job demand booms" or "Business booming for Davos sex workers as prostitution rises during World Economic Forum."

Is this just media coverage or media promotion? Fact is that in the media, "sex" always sells. Sex is sold to the general population.

Fact is that sex trafficking has grown exponentially since the dominance of the internet and the online porn industry. Victims are either used for pornographic pictures or videos, or they are prostituted out through online platforms such as Craigslist, Facebook, and MocoSpace. Sporting events are also a common prostitution venue. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl. Similar reports have been made about the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The gathering of large groups of people, as well as tourists’ willingness to spend money, is what makes these large events so lucrative for traffickers.

It is feasible to pinpoint specific times when prostitution is more prevalent. Human traffickers and transnational criminal organizations are drawn to large crowds and events like the Super Bowl. There is money to be made, and plenty of it. It's all about supply and demand. Criminal pimps and traffickers strive to profit off the flood of visitors and temporary prostitutes, or "sex workers," as the media and society refer to them. Indeed, it is estimated that sexual exploitation and large gatherings such as sporting events, which have become their own human trafficking Super Bowls, account for up to 66% of global income from human trafficking (about $150 billion). Exploitation in its purest form.

However, any large crowd will result in an upsurge in prostitution. Prostitution has increased at the World Economic Forum, the Super Bowl, huge concerts and festivals, and/or conventions.

Prosecution of Sex Trafficking

Another concerning statistic is that the prosecutions of sex trafficking are down in the U.S.

The State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report found the Department of Justice opened significantly fewer human trafficking investigations in 2018 compared to 2017, dropping from 783 to 657. It also reported significantly fewer prosecutions: 230, down from 282, that holds true for cases specifically focused on sex trafficking. Of the prosecutions, 213 were for sex trafficking, down from 266 in 2017.

In the midst of that, victims are still arrested for crimes they were forced to commit by traffickers.

The State Department’s report found that at the state and local level, victims are still being arrested for crimes they’re compelled to commit such as commercial sex work, including child victims.

This comes despite a push for “safe harbor” laws, passed in at least 34 states, which are meant to stop child sex trafficking victims from being prosecuted for prostitution and other charges related to commercial sex. Forty-four states have passed laws allowing survivors to seek a court order vacating, expunging or sealing convictions that resulted from acts traffickers forced them to commit.

We have to keep fighting to end Human Trafficking!

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Resources for Help:

The National Human Trafficking Hotline is confidential, toll-free and available 24/7 in more than 200 languages.

Call: 1-888-373-7888

Text: “BeFree” (233733)

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