Sex Trafficking Discussion
Sex trafficking is a major issue in the United States and across the globe. For this discussion, I choose the article from Washington Post “Sex-trafficked kids are crime victims. In Las Vegas, they go to jail.” The article was written by Jessica Contrera on August 26, 2021, and updated on August 26, 2022.
The article follows police officers as they make arrests of young girls, mostly teenagers who are involved in sex trafficking in Las Vegas. According to the article, teenagers, especially those in poverty in the foster-care system are more vulnerable and therefore, more likely to be involved in sex trafficking. Traffickers pose as trusted adults or befriend these young girls on social media, then manipulate them to be sold for sexual abuse. Under federal law, these young girls are victims, and not criminals; however, every year, children who have been sex trafficked are detained and charged with crimes. The article states that more than 290 minors were arrested for prostitution-related offenses in 2019; with some being younger than the age of 14 years. The main reason why the police insist on arresting these children despite acknowledging that they are victims is that they believe that if the children go home or to the city’s unlocked child welfare facility, they will simply run back to those who have been exploiting them. Based on this, putting these teenagers in jail for a few ways serve as a strategy to give them a chance to get away from their traffickers, get medical attention, connect with an advocate and come to the realization that they are being used and abused.
In the United States, it is speculated that between 15,000 and 50,000 women and children are subjected to sexual slavery annually, however exact figures vary greatly because the issue is so hard to study (Vashistha, 2021). Women and children are trafficked in a variety of ways, such as pimp-controlled trafficking, in which a single person exerts physical, psychological, or emotional control over the victim; gang trafficking, in which a victim is under the control of several people or is used as a prostitute by the gang; survival sex, in which the victim believes they are unable to flee and must engage in sex acts in order to survive; and familial trafficking, in which the victim is abused and controlled by their family members; and forced marriages.
The term population-at-risk refers to the group of individuals susceptible to the event of interest such as an infection, disease, or death at or during the time period of interest. Teenagers, especially those who come from poor families are at risk of being lured into sex trafficking and this is because they need money to sustain themselves and their families (Finigan-Carr et al., 2019). Sex trafficking is a form of sexual violence that is stated in the SDGs. SDG target 5.2 is to eliminate violence against women and girls, particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence, which has continued to pose a major public health problem and violation of women’s human rights. Every woman needs to be respected, and this includes their choice to leave a marriage if there is violence. Besides, children need to be educated, and just because they come from poor backgrounds, they should not be abused or manipulated into illegal activities such as sex trafficking for money.
Finigan-Carr, N. M., Johnson, M. H., Pullmann, M. D., Stewart, C. J., & Fromknecht, A. E. (2019). A traumagenic social ecological framework for understanding and intervening with sex trafficked children and youth. Child and adolescent social work journal, 36(1), 49-63.
Vashistha, S. (2021). Crime against Women. KK Publications.