7 Myths & Misconceptions You Need to Know About Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation

Posted: July 21, 2015 in Human Trafficking Is...
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It may be confusing to decipher what’s real and what’s sensationalized hype when reading about human trafficking because of the way it is shrouded in secrecy and hidden from the public.
Here is a list of seven truths to get you started.

Myth #1: Human trafficking is a third-world problem

Reality: Though modern-day slavery is rampant in countries like India (14 million people enslaved or 1.14% of their population- that’s almost the equivalent of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago combined, and China (3.2 million people enslaved or .238% of their population – more than the entire population of Orange County, California), sex trafficking and forced labor also occurs right here in the U.S.

A whopping 60,000 men, women, and children are trafficked within this country.

American citizens are trafficked both within our borders (often crossing state lines) or are taken abroad, while foreigners are trafficked within our borders.

Myth #2: Being a victim is a choice.

Reality:In some countries like India, children are sold into slavery by their family with the hopes of a better life, not knowing the abuse that awaits them. The families are unable to financially provide for their entire family and are often contacted by traffickers that make false promises about work opportunities.

Because of limited choices available to them, some men and women do choose prostitution or pornography as a means of income, but none of them chose a life of fear, intimidation, and abuse.

Interviews with rehabilitated sex workers show that some were lured by the excessive amount of money to be made in the industry but hadn’t really enjoyed nor wanted to continue the lifestyle.

Many sex workers felt they had no other choice but to sell what they had─their bodies. Others sell themselves to fuel their drug addiction.

Myth #3: Legalizing prostitution makes it safe

Reality: Legalizing prostitution benefits everyone involved–except the prostitute.

As countries like the Netherlands and Germany show us, legalizing prostitution will not make conditions safer for the women. In fact, more severe and violent behavior that could easily be described as torture is unleashed on these women.

Legalizing prostitution only makes it safe for the pimps, johns, and madams eliminating their fear of prosecution. Studies show 9 out of 10 prostitutes working in legal brothels want to break free from the job, and almost half have attempted suicide at least once.

Myth #4: Sexual exploitation only affects females

Reality: While 98% of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation are women, that also means that 2% are men. That’s 400,000 men and young boys being trafficked throughout the world for sex.

As more and more homosexual prostitution occurs, the demand for more, younger boys increases, forcing more young men into being sold.

Men also comprise 45% of forced labor trafficking.

Myth #5: A victim will always show signs of physical abuse

Reality: Pimps don’t ever have to physically abuse their victims, though they frequently do.

The emotional and mental abuse can be so overwhelming the victim will not seek out help nor defy his or her pimp ever. Pimps spend time on new “recruits” to break them down sometimes to near death. They often keep them drugged, starved, and scared.

Many victims frequently come from an abusive background and don’t know any other way of life. The victims often feel they deserve the abuse or that their pimp really does love them.

Myth #6: A victim could just leave if she wanted.

Reality: One of the ways a pimp breaks his girl is by instilling fear. This includes fear of law enforcement, fear of retaliation for not “behaving” by means of severe physical trauma, or fear of abandonment.

Victims are told they will be deported, arrested, or taken back to their family. They are brainwashed into believing no one wants to help them, they don’t deserve to be helped, and they are worthless.

For some women, their cultural beliefs hinder their desire to seek aid as they will be shamed by their family or community. Sometimes, she is returned to her abuser or sold to a new trafficker.

Although a victim may reject help initially or even after several attempts, they don’t want to continue with their current lifestyle, (s)he just might not know it yet. We must be patient with him/her and continue to do what’s best and help in any way we can.

Myth #7: Sex trafficking is the only form of trafficking

Reality: Human trafficking is defined as the use of fraud or coercion to force a person into labor or sexual exploitation for commercial purposes.

Human trafficking includes sex trafficking (prostitution, pornography, working at brothels, stripping, and sex tourism), labor trafficking (restaurant workers, farm hands, street vendors, garment workers, domestic servants, nannies and manufacturers), organ trafficking (buying and selling of human organs on the black market), illegal adoptions, forced begging, and child soldiers.

Now that you’ve armed yourself with the truth share this information with everyone you know. Awareness is the first step to eradicate human trafficking from existence. Be a part of the movement.


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