Basics of Sex Trafficking – Part 1

Sex Trafficking happens when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act, which includes prostitution, pornography and sexual performance done in exchange for something of value.

“After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest growing” —National Human Trafficking Resource Center

Sexual exploitation can happen online, in strip clubs, on the streets and in massage parlors in exchange for money, drugs, shelter, food or clothes.

The Game

Within the subculture of sex trafficking, pimping is referred to as “the game” or “the life”. Women and girls talk about being “in the life” if they have been involved with prostitution for a while. The Game comes with a set of rules, hierarchy of authority, and its own language.

The Players

  • The Trafficker = “Pimp”
  • The Victim = “Prostitute”
  • The Buyer = “John”

The Pimps / Traffickers

  • Prides themselves in controlling others through manipulation
  • Sets the quota for how much the victim must earn before returning home
  • Most are 17 to 25 years old
  • Family history of prostitution
  • High self-esteem
  • History of violence towards women
  • View women as property or objects to used or sold

The Victims

  • Most are 13 to 17 years old
  • History of abuse — about 99% have been sexually abused
  • Broken families
  • Runaway
  • Low self-esteem
  • Failing in school or feeling rejected
  • Looking for attention or love

The Buyers

  • Male — 98%
  • 2 out of 3 are married
  • 2 out of 3 have kids
  • All levels of economic worth
  • All levels of jobs, social status, and background

Stages of The Game

In the United States, traffickers recruit girls to participate in The Game, with the ultimate goal of forcing them to do whatever they want.

Stage 1: Recruiting

This happens wherever the young girls like to hang out. Shopping malls, transportation hubs, schools and the internet. Runaways are particularly vulnerable — 1 out of 3 will be lured into The Game within 48 hours.

Stage 2: Grooming

  • Traffickers acts as boyfriend
  • He builds up self-esteem
  • He praises them with flattery & charm
  • He buys them gifts (clothes, food, nails)
  • He shows a lot of attention
  • He plays up the promise of the “good life”
  • She has no responsibilities
  • He provides drugs
  • He preys on the emotional weakness of the victim

Stage 3: Break

  • Isolates her from family, friends and all support groups
  • Makes her totally dependent on him
  • Once she is completely isolated and dependent on him, the trafficker coerces her into her first trick 

Stage 4: Control

The pimp lays down the rules from here out:

  • How long and when to work
  • What to charge and sets a quota per night
  • Set maximum time limits for each act
  • She cannot talk to or even look at another pimp or she will be beaten
  • Often they are branded — tattoos in prominent places to remind her that she is his property
  • Pimps keep 100% of the money

In Part 2 of this series, we will explain Why the Victims Don’t Leave The Game, and terrible impact it has on all that are involved.