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The Intersectionality of Race and Gender in Sex Trafficking

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

While women are the primary targets and victims of sex trafficking, women of color in particular are trafficked at higher rates. This intersectionality of race and gender leads to women of color being the most exploited trafficked population. Despite being a minority, Black, Latina, and Native American women are disproportionately victims of sex trafficking. For example, Native American women in South Dakota represent 40% of victims but only make up 8% of the population. Similarly, Black women in Nebraska represent 50% of individuals sold online for sex but only make up 5% of the population. To make strides to end racial injustice, we must work to end human trafficking as an industry that capitalizes off of the mental and physical abuse of women of color.

The intersectionality of race and gender in sex trafficking also impacts children of color. Young Black, Latina, and Native American girls shouldn’t have to fear being targeted for sex trafficking. These children should be able to get an education and live normal childhoods, without being made vulnerable for human trafficking because of their race. 52% of all child sex trafficking victims in King County, Washington are Black, 84% of which are female, despite Black girls only making up 1.1% of the population. This instance of Black girls facing significantly higher rates of trafficking occurs across the country, in other places such as Oregon and Louisiana. We at Global Hope 365 need your help to continue the fight to end sex trafficking and its abuse of children of color by advocating for legislation to provide trauma infomed exit strategies and puncish demand, raising awareness, educating the public, and developing methods of prevention.

Significant changes need to be made to the justice system to prevent the arrest of women and girls of color that are related to their experience as victims of sex trafficking. All too often, women and girls who are survivors of sex trafficking are not seen as victims in a court of law and are arrested for prostitution and similar offenses. By blaming these victims of sexual exploitation for the circumstances forced upon them, the legal system further harms particularly women and girls of color who have been traumatized enough by being trafficked. Rather,we should increase the penalties on the buyers who are exploiting women and girls of color. They should be criminally punished for their actions and face legal charges. Survivors of sex trafficking should not be persecuted more than buyers facilitating the trade. Such an injustice can be seen in how 78% of Pennsylvania prostitution arrests are for selling sex, whereas only 22% are arrested for purchasing it. Additionally, Black women and girls account for more prostitution arrests than any other racial group, which highlights the racism behind the treatment of these sex trafficking survivors, and the racial biases that plague the justice system. We need your help to defend victims of color from being punished by the law as a result of their forced actions from having been trafficked.

The sex trade disproportionately impacts the lives of women of color, while sex buyers are disproportionately white men. Many studies have been conducted to determine the demographic of sex buyers, concluding that it is white, middle-to-upper class, married men, including the majority of internet buyers. This demographic further demonstrates the intersectionality of race and gender contributing to sex trafficking, showing the power imbalance of buyers being white men that fund and engage in this illegal and immoral industry. Strict legislation to persecute such buyers in the eyes of the law need to be put into place to end sex trafficking and similarly child marriage. We need to take action to prevent the sexual exploitation of women and children everywhere, fighting for these survivors to receive justice.

Visit to learn more about human trafficking and child marriage.

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Source: Rights4Girls “RACIAL & GENDER DISPARITIES IN THE SEX TRADE” Fact Sheet 2018

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