Although sex trafficking is a problem with a long history, people still have not devised effective methods to address this problem. It is estimated that sex trafficking accounts for 79% of all human trafficking and affects 4.8 million victims (Brooks and Heaslip 1105). However, these estimates can be imprecise because sex trafficking cases are hard to reveal for multiple reasons. Being sexually exploited inflicts considerable damage on victims in terms of mental and physical health, self-worth, and the ability to return to normal life. This essay will argue that there is a need to raise public awareness of sex trafficking and make more efforts to address this issue. The reasons for this are a large number of people at risk, including children, negative effects on victims’ physical and mental health, the difficulty in discovering and helping victims, and insufficient efforts from governments. Since sex trafficking is difficult to detect and significantly impairs victims’ physical and mental health, people should openly discuss this issue and help victims escape and recover from this slavery.
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Some people may regard sex trafficking as a problem that is unlikely to happen to them, but research shows that many individuals are at risk. Immigrants and individuals living in poverty, especially women, are the most frequent victims of sex trafficking (Brooks and Heaslip 1109). Although poverty is more characteristic of developing countries, sex trafficking occurs in developed countries as well (Brooks and Heaslip 1106). What is more important is that children can also become sexually exploited. Children who are thrown away, run away from home, or live in dysfunctional families are in particular danger (Leary 310). Estimates show that children, mostly aged 14-17 years, account for 21% of sex trafficking victims, which is about one million worldwide (Brooks and Heaslip 1106). Moreover, the number of sexually exploited children may rise because, in addition to traditional recruiting at bus stations and schools, criminals now can search for their victims on the Internet (Leary 310). Thus, many adults and children are at risk of being involved in sex trafficking, and this risk becomes even higher if one considers new technologies facilitating the recruitment of victims.
Sex trafficking is an inhuman act per se, but the worst thing is that it has detrimental effects on victims’ mental and physical health and their position in society. Researchers report that the longer victims are sexually exploited, the more damage is done to their health (Oram et al. 10). Common health problems include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, headache, chronic pain, stomach pain, back pain, memory problems, and sexually-transmitted diseases (Oram et al. 6). In addition, victims of sex trafficking are often subject to drug abuse; drugs are used either by traffickers to prevent victims from fleeing or by victims to abstract themselves from their situation (Brooks and Heaslip 1109). At the same time, victims have limited access to healthcare because of language barriers, illiteracy, illegal immigrant status, and dependence on traffickers (Brooks and Heaslip 1109). Even if victims manage to escape, it is difficult for them to return to their community because of the fear of traffickers’ retaliation, a lack of job skills, poverty, and family violence (Greenbaum 245). Hence, sex trafficking is extremely harmful to victims’ physical, mental, and social well-being.
Despite the severity of the damage inflicted on victims by sex trafficking, they often do not report being sexually exploited. The reasons for this are fear of retaliation, hopelessness, shame, and humiliation (Greenbaum 242). Sometimes, sexually exploited individuals do not see themselves as victims; instead, they regard traffickers as their protectors or paramours (Greenbaum 242). It may also be assumed that some victims do not know what help they can get and believe that they have no way out, and there is no point telling anyone about their situation. Thus, due to victims’ reluctance to report their situation to someone who can help, it is difficult to investigate sex trafficking cases.
Finally, given the gravity of the issue, societies take insufficient measures to address the problem of human trafficking. For example, in Thailand, sex trafficking is part of the country’s sex tourist industry, which makes a large contribution to the country’s economy (Brooks and Heaslip 1110). As a result, the authorities pay little attention to fighting sex trafficking. In some countries, the governments legalized prostitution to address this issue. In Germany, for example, after the legalization of prostitution in 2002, the number of legal cases related to sex trafficking decreased (Weitzer 86). It may be associated with increased control over this sphere, which made it more difficult for traffickers to involve in their criminal activity. Brooks and Heaslip argue that until people begin to discuss the issue of sex trafficking, there will be little progress in resolving the problem (1111). If discussions of sex trafficking were more accepted and common in society, victims would probably be more willing to reveal their complicated situation to someone who can help.
In conclusion, sex trafficking has severe adverse effects on the well-being of its victims. However, societies do not make sufficient efforts to address this problem. This is partly because victims are unwilling to reveal their victimized status for the reasons described above. To facilitate the disclosure and investigation of the problem of sex trafficking, people should openly discuss this problem. It is also necessary to make sure that individuals are aware of the resources they can use in case they become victims of sex trafficking.
Brooks, Ann, and Vanessa Heaslip. “Sex Trafficking and Sex Tourism in a Globalised World.” Tourism Review, vol. 74, no. 5, 2019, pp. 1104-1115. ProQuest. Web.
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Greenbaum, Jordan. “Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking in the Emergency Department.” Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine, vol. 17, no. 4, 2016, pp. 241-248. ProQuest. Web.
Leary, Mary Graw. “Fighting fire with fire: technology in child sex trafficking.” Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, vol. 21, no. 2, 2014, p. 289-323. Gale OneFile: LegalTrac.
Oram, Sian, et al. “Prevalence and risk of violence and the physical, mental, and sexual health problems associated with human trafficking: a systematic review.” PLoS Medicine, vol. 9, no. 5, 2012, pp. 1-13. Gale Academic OneFile. Web.
Weitzer, Ronald. “Researching Prostitution and Sex Trafficking Comparatively.” Sexuality Research & Social Policy, vol. 12, no. 2, 2015, pp. 81-91. ProQuest. Web.