- The 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act defines sex trafficking as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not obtained 18 years of age.
- Child Sex Trafficking – When a child (under 18 years of age) is induced to perform a commercial sex act, proving force, fraud, or coercion against their pimp is not necessary for the offense to be characterized as human trafficking. There are no exceptions to this rule: no cultural or socioeconomic rationalizations should prevent the rescue of children from sexual servitude. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited both under U.S. law and by statute in most countries around the world. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and even death.
- Prostitution is a sexual act in exchange for money or anything of value (drugs, shelter, etc.)
- Pimp/Trafficker/Facilitator refers to the person(s) using force, fraud, or coercion for commercial sexual exploitation and collaborators who benefit financially.
- Many organizations, including federal agencies such as the FBI, recognize sex trafficking as modern-day slavery.
“In truth, generating valid, reliable, and current data is challenging. The sex industry in the U.S. is, for the most part, illegal. Those who buy and those who sell their bodies for sexual exploitation are often reluctant to admit to their behavior, and thus difficult to reach with normal research methods such are random sampling surveys. This makes it quite difficult to ascertain answers to even the most basic questions, such as “What is the scope of the sex trade? How many people in this country are trafficked for sexual exploitation?” “How many people are buying sex?”…Utilizing only reputable data, being willing to say “we don’t know” when we don’t, and funding more and better research are the only ways we can overcome this fundamental problem.”
The following is a collection of global, national, state and local data from reliable and respected sources. As Awaken continues to increase and expand its efforts, seeking funding for additional local research is an organizational priority.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 40 million people around the world were victims of modern slavery in 2016.
- At any given time in 2016, 4.8 million people were victims of forced sexual exploitation. On average, they are held for 23.4 months in their situation before escaping or being freed. The vast majority are women and girls. Children represent more than 20% of the victims.
- ILO estimates that annual profits per victim of sexual exploitation is $21,800.
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) notes that children make up almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide and women and girls comprise 71 percent of human trafficking victims.
- UNDOC estimates the total market value of illicit human trafficking at 32 billion US dollars.
- More than 31,600 total cases of human trafficking have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the last eight years. The Hotline receives an average of 100 calls per day.
- One out of every three adolescents on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home according to the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children.
- The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers. Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death.
- In 2016, an estimated one out of six endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 86 percent were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
- Several studies have found that 50 to 72 percent of women in street prostitution have experienced severe violence at the hands of buyers, pimps/traffickers, and police officers.
- A report from the U.S. Justice Department and the Urban Institute found that pimps surveyed from eight major U.S. cities cited making anywhere between $5,000 to $32,833 per week.
State and Local
Nevada law allows counties with populations below 700,000 to approve and license houses of prostitution. Prostitution is illegal in Washoe County but it borders four counties (Churchill, Humboldt, Pershing, and Storey) where prostitution is legal, and youths as young as 18 years old can legally work in a brothel as a prostitute. The following data support Awaken’s belief that legalized prostitution increases overall supply and demand for prostituted and sexually exploited people as it crosses county borders and creates a culture that “mainstreams” and readily accepts the commodification of sex.
- A recent study by Creighton University in partnership with Awaken revealed that 1,500 women and children are being sold online for sex at any given time in the northern Nevada area.
- Surveys in the U.S. have found 73% to 92% of prostituted women to have been raped while providing commercial sex, and 59% of victims to have been raped more than five times.
- In 2016, 136 sex trafficking cases were reported in Nevada to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Northern Nevada lacks significant local data on this issue. Awaken aims to rectify this problem. Until then, we rely on studies conducted in the most populous part of our state.
A recent study by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and the Arizona State University Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research (ASU STIR) to analyze sex trafficking cases developed in Las Vegas revealed the following insights:
Between 1994 and 2014, LVMPD identified 2,449 victims of sex trafficking under age 18. In 2014, LVMPD identified 190 victims of sex trafficking – nearly 65% were minors under the age of 18. Findings from these cases reflect Awaken’s own experiences with this population and include:
- The most common type of sex trafficker of these victims was a Romeo-type pimp using romance and promises to convince the victim to enter into prostitution.
- In 22 cases, the Romeo-type pimp turned into a violent, fear-based Guerilla pimp once the victim stopped responding to the Romeo technique.
- Social media was used in the recruitment of nearly one out of every three sex trafficking victims.
- Sex traffickers used different types of violence to keep the victims from leaving or reporting including physical violence (56.2%), psychological violence (49.4%), and sexual violence (11.2%).
- Online venues were used by the sex traffickers to advertise the sex trafficking victims in 33 (37.1%) cases. Backpage.com was used in 78.8% (n =26) of the cases that used online platforms.
- 95 (80%) of the known sex traffickers had criminal histories with an average of 12 previous arrests.
- The average age of the known sex trafficker at their first arrest in their lifetime was 17.5 years old.
- Previous charges included domestic violence (n=37, 38.9%) and weapons charges (n =43, 45.3%).
- The average age of the minor sex trafficking victims was 16 years old while the average age of the adult sex trafficking victims was 23.8 years old.
- Only 45.5% of the minor victims had a missing persons report filed about them.
How Pimps Work
- Using violence or threatening the person or the person’s family members
- Harming or depriving the person of basic necessities, such as food, water, or sleep
- Making false promises of love or companionship
- Making false promises of a good job and home
- Restricting contact with friends or family
- Limiting freedom of movement
- Controlling the person’s identification documents
- Threatening deportation or law enforcement action
- Garnishing the person’s salary to pay off alleged debts
- Preventing the victim from attending religious services
- Daddy: Refers to a prostituted woman’s own pimp. Intended to reinforce a perceived status as “the provider.”
- Bottom Girl/Bottom Bitch: Street language referring to female associate who is at the top of the hierarchy of the women/girls controlled by a pimp. The bottom is said to be the foundation that the “family” can be built upon.
- Folks/Family: Slang term describing one’s pimp and/or the unit as the pimp and other individuals under his control.
- Stable: Demeaning slang term referring to the multiple individuals a pimp may be exploiting at one time. Reinforces the concept of ownership and the dehumanization of the individuals who are being exploited.
- Breaking/Breaking Bread: Slang term meaning giving all of one’s money to one’s pimp.
- Seasoning: When a pimp rapes, beats, manipulates, and intimidates in order to break down a victim.
- Turning Out: Slang term referring to the recruitment process of initiating someone into the sex trade.
- Choosing Up: When a victim makes direct eye contact with a pimp who does not “own” her, or when another pimp manipulates a victim into going with him. The victim has to give her new pimp all of the money she made for the old pimp that evening.
- Reckless Eyeballing: Looking into a pimp’s eyes, which then can cause choosing up or kidnapping for ransom.
- The Game/The Life: Slang term used to describe the sex trade.
- Johns: Slang term to refer to those who purchase commercial sex acts including pornography.
- Lot Lizard: A derogatory term for a person who is being prostituted at truck stops.
- Renegade/Unicorn (Unicorn from RPD): Someone who is involved in prostitution of his or her own accord and has no pimp.
- Squaring Up: Getting away from the trafficking situation.
- Track/Stroll: Slang term referring to an area where street prostitution occurs.
- Trick/Date: Signifies either a person buying a victim, or the act of prostitution.
Additional Trafficking Terms – https://sharedhope.org/the-problem/trafficking-terms/
Other resources/information on the issue of sex trafficking:
Shared Hope International – Kelly’s Story: Read the harrowing story of one girl’s trafficking experience. About Shared Hope: In 1998, U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith traveled into the heart of the brothel district in Mumbai, India where she witnessed the brutal exploitation and sexual slavery of women and children. She established Shared Hope International to rescue and restore women and children enslaved in sex trafficking.
New York Times – She Has a Pimp’s Name Etched on Her: The horrific reality that branding isn’t just for cattle is upsetting. Branding is typically a practice that claims property and ends with the sale of it, and unfortunately applies to the complicated coercion of slavery for prostitutes. Not all prostitution is voluntary, and in fact, the opposite appears to hold more truth.
Sex Trafficking Awareness Videos by the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign: A compilation of dramatized scenarios that display the troubling reality of trafficking enlistment. The stories are reenacted but the examples are real, depicting the following approaches to enlistment: Truck Stop, School Recruitment, Entrapment, and Foster Care.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation, It’s Roots and More
World Without Exploitation Report – What We Know About Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, and Sexual Exploitation in the U.S. As the report notes, “These fact sheets are designed to present, in one place, valid, reliable data on topics related to human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the U.S. Statistics and data in these fact sheets can be utilized with utmost confidence, as the methodologies and findings have been carefully vetted.”
Law Enforcement Response
U.S. Department of Justice – Child Sex Trafficking: An in-depth look at the different forms of sex trafficking according to the DoJ standards that gives insight and background to the legal proceedings of violations. In order to prosecute effectively, defining the many complicated forms of trafficking as according to legal violations is necessary.
A National Overview of Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Efforts, Final Report prepared for the National Institute for Justice: This report is designed to provide a descriptive overview of initiatives targeting the demand for commercial sex in the United States.
2014 Las Vegas Sex Trafficking Case Study: This study provides a “snapshot” over the period of one year that gives valuable insight via statistics based off of legal intervention in sex trafficking cases. The purpose is to analyze cases in order to establish patterns, which will lead to more effective leadership and action from the authorities involved in investigations.
Little Known Facts of Sex Trafficking
Ten Surprising and Counterintuitive Facts About Sex Trafficking: While the previous statistics and insight give the majority of information concerning trafficking, there are a few others that are important to learn about but perhaps make up a smaller representation.
Common Myths and Misconceptions About Human Trafficking in the U.S.: Trafficking isn’t restricted to foreigners or just big cities. The myths surrounding sex trafficking can have a surprising reality that conflicts with the general assumption.
Human Trafficking Hotline: The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national anti-trafficking hotline serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community in the United States. The toll-free hotline is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year in more than 200 languages.