The Historical misfortune of women concerning their position in American society is perhaps repeating itself. In the 1930s, women’s experiences in terms of roles in a society formed quite conspicuous dimensions. The society deprived them of their vital rights. The male gender, being eloquently dominant, served to advance this challenge. Women had absolutely no say. With hefty fights for their rights, their position socially, politically and economically improved tremendously. However, certain stringent inequalities are still imminent perhaps prompting people to serve as commercial sex trade objects: something that provides ample grounds for the breeding of sex trafficking.
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This paper looks at sex trafficking as a problem afflicting the larger American society from the dimensions of economic, social and political segregations of one gender: women. Additionally, it looks at the circumstances that propagate sex trafficking as not just an issue predominately contained in one place such as a problem of the major cities. Rather, it argues that these circumstances arise from social, economic and political disparities and challenges that initiate right from the very basic unit of the society, family, before spreading to other societal institutions.
In America, perhaps a mention of the word sex trafficking brings in people’s minds a myriad of children and women in the overseas being compelled to engage in the sex trade or rather such people from the overseas being ferried to America for sexual exploitation. Hardly do we think of the Americans being sex trafficked by their fellow Americans. The paper brings into the limelight this latter line of thought about sex trafficking by seeking to scrutinize the social, economic and political problems that help amplify the challenge. People perceive this challenge as an acting form: an established and redefined form of extension of gender-instigated oppression on women perhaps reminiscent of the 1930’s American gender disparities history.
The incredible escalation of the number of young girls in American society that is entering the commercial sex market is intriguing. Sex traffickers, famously known as pimps, introduce many of these young people into this trade. An ex-treat walker, Louise, Dr. Sharon Cooper, An American forensic pediatrician, Jaus Rhonnie, and the hallways of Hartford’s community court among other scholars, report on their concerns about sex trafficking in America.
Sex trafficking is a magnificently disturbing phenomenon, which, according to scholarly research, include “…young American girls entering the commercial sex industry—an estimated 300,000 at this moment—and their ages have been dropping drastically” (Farrior 213). Perhaps one of the disturbing revelations is the fact that various scholarly research claims that the average age at which girls in America either join or are forced to join the sex trade has fallen drastically to merely thirteen years (Hughes 5). This is indicative of an enormous downward demographic expansion.
The reason behind this expansion is valid, but perhaps not all exclusive. According Bishop and Robinson, “anti-intellectual, consumerist, hyper-violent, and super-eroticized content of movies (Hustle & Flow), reality TV (Cathouse), video games (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City), gangsta rap (Nelly’s “Tip Drill”), and cyber sites (Second Life: Jail Bait) has normalized sexual harm” (21). It is imminent that the American people have sporadically shifted to their period in the history preceding the 1930’s. They are treating women as chattels.
In compounding the sex trafficking social problems, parents have a profound share. Parents have widely contributed to the breakdown of the family units: something that has an immense ability to make children result in acts of involvement in undue behaviors such as prostitution to seal economic gaps that emerge because of the breakdown of the families (Farrior 241). Once requested to join in the easy money economic activities, young American girls have very little options but to accept.
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Bishop and Robinson recognize the breakdown of families “…or abusive parents compounds risk, and the emergence of vast cyber-communities of like-minded deviant individuals, who no longer have disincentives to act on their most destructive predatory fantasies” (39). Sex trafficking is emerging as a less risky business with hefty gains economically in relation to other illegal businesses such as drug trafficking, which attract heavy penalties. While the pimps gain largely from the sex trafficking trade, on the other hand, the tools of the trade: young girl’s involvement in this inhumane business, pose economic problems to the American society.
Several factors enhance sex trafficking. They all aim at manipulating young girls to comply with the demands placed by their bosses ‘pimps’. Two such ways entail manipulations by drugs and violence (Bishop and Robinson 23). In this context, sex trafficking, despite being a challenge by itself also encourages the breeding of certain other challenges that amplify the problem. This is perhaps justifiable by the fact that drug consumption results in compounded societal challenges, both socially and economically, in the American society in terms of adding into escalated budgets of the rehabilitation centers.
As previously noted, most of the young people engaged by the pimps in this sex trafficking trade are more often than not children from families disbanded by violence. Consequently, these children hardly can afford rehabilitation expenses once they, in one way or another, manage to get themselves out on the motels and the streets where they are sexually abused for the sake of making their bosses build on their riches. Consequently, society lives with people who not only have psychological disorders arising from their experiences at the motels, but also ones who have encountered a myriad of physical assaults, yet they cannot contest.
On a different dimension, sex trafficking constructs a political problem. Some well-linked up and organized criminals (Hughes 40) introduce an estimated 17000 young girls into the sex trafficking industry annually. While this crime occurs not only in the small and big American communities, more pressurized political redress is widely absent to end the menace. All that the criminal has is the freedom to continue thinking about women in terms of millions and cents of dollars, as opposed to thinking about them as human beings.
As Farrior reckons, “even as celebrity activists such as Emma Thompson, Demi Moore, and Mira Sorvino raise awareness about commercial sex trafficking, survivor Rachel Lloyd publishes her memoir Girls Like Us, and the Senate introduces a new bipartisan bill for victim support, the problem proliferates across continents, in casinos, on streets, and directly into your mobile device” (247). The problem of sex trafficking is perhaps more close to people’s homes more than what most Americans may think. Large numbers of American girls have high risks of being incorporated into trade alongside other girls imported from overseas. Considering the freedom of media through which information is likely to incite demand for commercial sex, the paper finds political will in the regulation of sex trafficking as widely absent.
People who sex traffic women and young girls take advantage of the weakness existing in their lives because of social and economic problems to exploit them. Thinking that perhaps that giving into the sex traffickers’ pleas is the way out to solve their challenges, the victims end up compounding their problems from bad to worse. Pimps find it easy to manipulate children and young women to enter into the sex trade. For the children, before they become adults are psychologically broken down, have low self-esteem, and strictly depend on the pimps for their living.
Once the sex trafficking business owners have managed to establish a psychological breakdown of their slaves, they can then take control of them tantamount to any other domestic child abuser. With the media functioning as one of the major marketing tools for the sex trafficking business, the pimps can compound the social, economic and political problems emanating from the business. It is evident that sex trafficking is a social, political, and economic problem. Therefore, the paper presents detailed research on how sex trafficking, either on its own or through its repercussions, results in economic, social and or political problems in America.
Sex Trafficking: A Social Problem in America
There is plenty of evidence to prove that sex trafficking is a social issue that is worth addressing in America and the world at large. From a social perspective, sex trafficking in America is a problem that affects an individual’s personality, disrupting family and societal interactions and networks. Sex trafficking separates family members and exploits the fact that some families live in abject poverty and therefore vulnerable.
Problems of poverty, unemployment, and discrimination against certain individual causing them to lack access to opportunities form the main factors that fuel sex trafficking. There has been a robust moral crusade in the past two decades against sex trafficking in America. As seen, these papers focus on the construction of the social, economic and political implications of sex trafficking. The major claim is that these problems are due to institutional and policy hitches in the US and other parts of the world.
The consequences of sex trafficking are quite compelling. They range from physical abuse to physical abuse, psychological torture to emotional trauma. All these have economic as well as political implications of uncontrolled crime on citizens yet the practice is crucial and very unacceptable. It is difficult to deal with sex trafficking in one country since the trade is closely linked to human trafficking which spans across several countries (Bales 462). The driving force is the need for better lives and hopes for greener pastures in the developed countries.
Through this, sex slavery, child pornography, forced prostitution, and other immoral deals become possible. According to Bales, modern slavery is temporary and it is manageable. Essentially, sex traffickers often trick children and women in countries that suffer serious problems in their social and economic infrastructures (Bales 462). When eventually these people enter into prostitution, they only work for a shorter lifespan. Their reasons are that there are a lot of injuries, diseases, and drugs involved affecting their wellbeing.
When they become unprofitable because of being sex objects and hence ‘used’ and ‘worn’, they are disposed cheaply of and then replaced by new women recently trafficked into the business (Bales 462). Two facts contribute to the sex trafficking problem; the first factor is that poor countries have problematic social structures. The market policies are very loose. Hence, the work of organizations like the International Monetary Fund caused a decrease in welfare, nutrition projects, and health as well as education (Bales 465). The results of these decreases mean that more family members have to get into the labor market to fend for themselves and other dependants.
The second factor is the global consumerism. This has increased to every country now (Bales 466). People are becoming more aware of luxuries and finding means of accessing these luxuries. This consumerism leads to sex trafficking with the possibility of selling out a girl so that the family can be better off. Salt’s view is that, since legal requirements for immigration have become more stringent, regular migration is nearly impossible (34). As a result, illegal migration means are flourishing. In most countries, these illegal channels of migration result in sex trafficking deals. Sex trafficking has become profitable and the possibility of arrest and prosecution has reduced. Salt further describes trafficking as business institutions use for making handsome profits (Salt 35). This factor coupled with the fact that law enforcement has been reckless in handling human trafficking makes it a booming business.
Violence is intimately linked to sex trafficking. This social construct is not only experienced in the violent handling of the women trafficked rather the act of forced prostitution itself is a form of violence. To comprehend how violence is intrinsic to forced prostitution, it is pertinent to underline facts about sex trafficking and prostitution. When a prostitute provides services to her client, her status is already degraded. She is merely a commodity. This makes the encounter sometimes marred with violence, demeaning and insulting sexual practices (Janice 322). Sex trafficking is defined as a sexual act that involves some form of coercion either physical or otherwise. The assertion that cruelty is pervasive in prostitution is confirmable since most of the rescued victims are often in bad shape when found.
In most of the social and moral crusades, people consider the perpetrators of the sex trafficking business as immoral and evil people. They label the customers of this business as sexual predators. They are often very brutal with women (Gretchen 66). Traffickers are usually denigrated are rapists, kidnappers, and predators that carry out sexual slavery and anti-humanity crimes. It is proper that the traffickers and the customers have to get out of society and go to where they belong, behind bars.
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Even though sex customers vary in background, conduct, and motivation, they all buy sex hence boosting the sex trafficking business (Gretchen 66). There is no doubt that because of the differing backgrounds and different reasons for buying sex. Some if not most of the clients, act violently towards their vulnerable ‘prey’. People have noted that some clients even travel to other countries for this reason. This practice is branded as sex tourism. Some have affection for only the underage girls, hence defiling young girls who are supposed to be in schools.
These activities are gradually increasing across America even though there is little data addressing these issues. For that cause, some counterarguments have come up that only very few customers mistreat their prostitutes. Whichever way, prostitution is dirty whether the woman consents to it or not (Gretchen 66). It is morally wrong. It has been viewed as immoral and a threat to the family institution. Traffickers are cold-blooded, uncouth and ruthless. Sex workers brought into the business by sex trafficking are deprived of their agency. The denial of the agency is an inviolability and legal issue and it is evident in the description of prostitution and sexual slavery (Salt 35).
The social implication, in this case, is that the workers do not have choices to enter or remain in prostitution and basically such thing as people voluntarily migrating for the reason of doing sex work is just propaganda (Vlachová, and Biason 15). This does not just make sense at all. Sex work denies individuals of their inalienable sense of consent. Activists have argued that legislation should never allow traffickers to use the notion of consent of the victims in cases facing them (Vlachová, and Biason 15). The issue of agency is sex trafficking is also an issue of research literature and it shows great variations. The extent to which a sex worker suffers exploitation and the level of empowerment and control of their job shows exploitation.
The magnitude of the sex trafficking social problem is very high. Because of the size of this social issue, media coverage has increased. Organizations involved in donor funding and the policymakers as also concerned about the issues, therefore, more research into the subject is growing (Gretchen 68). However, there is anticipation that the problem could be highly inflated because of this. Some people have even suggested making prostitution legal so that the workers can use legal protection to have better working conditions, property treatment from clients among others (Salt 35).
However, this measure is risky and that it defies the universal moral law, which forbids sexual immorality. Legalizing it could be more detrimental in two main aspects. First, that would practically magnify all the problems that are associated with sex trafficking (Janice 322). Morally, that would be giving authentication to a sexist practice condoning sexual exploitation of women. If people take away legal barriers, then the moral or ethical and social barrier will fade away with women being handles as sexual merchandise (Janice 322): a state that is seriously demeaning and intimidating.
Sex Trafficking: A Political Problem in America
Sex trafficking is among the political problems that the world is addressing. While historically, disagreements and crucial inconsistencies exist among the various definitions of human sex trafficking, political leaders and scholars tend to accept the Trafficking victims protection act of 2000’ description. The definition shows that sex trafficking is by coercion, fraudulent and subjects period to involuntary servitude, slavery debt bondage and exploit children below 18 years of age (Gretchen 69).
The issues of social exclusion and economic vulnerability resulting from the poor governance and policies marginalize certain people making them particularly prone to trafficking. The effects of natural disasters, poverty, political unrest often work to paralyze the already tenuous socio-political structure. The individual is not only prone to trafficking due to the source countries’ poor protective structures, but also because of the allure of the chance and the relentless of the market of other businesses weakening (Gretchen 71).
Sex trafficking issues is hence an international issue for debate. The business affects the transnational movement of people and therefore directly deals with international laws ranging from those of migration to human rights issues. There is a complex relationship between the policy implementation by the political class and the sex trafficking industry. Most of these individuals often use the legal means to get the migration document and move to the destination countries (Salt 39).
In the recent two decades, the numbers increased so drastically that restriction on the regular legal migration had to be tightened making them very stringent. As a result, this created a boom for illegal human traffickers. This illegitimate human trafficking problem results in exploitation and therefore sex trafficking. If an individual is smuggled, and enters another country illegally, like in the US, it follows that he/she can only do the illegal jobs for survival.
Sex trafficking affects migration policies and is a major problem across many countries. Most of the time, the plight of the victims of trafficking is less focused on by the law enforcers. As a result, those trafficked are arrested and the immigration law exacerbates the situation by treating these individuals as criminals awaiting deportation, or incarceration. As a result, the business blossoms because the victims feel they have no other options for seeking justice.
Besides, there are great profits in the business therefore the risk on the side of the perpetrators seems to be worth taking. A number of international bodies have come up to help address the issue, the USAID, the UN funds for women and several other working in the source countries including Mexico, India, and the Philippines among others. The common response to illegal migration has been to tighten the security of birders by imposing stricter law and enforcement. Sex trafficking has caused increased spending on border control practices in America, Australian and Europe (Raimo 4).
On the global scene and regional level, countries have come together to address the problems of sex trafficking by implementing deterrence policies so that illegal movements in and out of the specific countries are prohibited. (Raimo 4) This kind of trafficking comes with other social problems like smuggling of arms and drugs making the porous border a serious problem to deal with in the 21st century. For this cause, South East Asia, which forms a major source country region, has a policing body, the Bali Process that has strong control and enforcement of laws against illegal immigration.
Western and central Europe has the EU policies focused on the issues of smuggling persons for sex work as well as related crimes. In the US, the US-Mexican border has had these problems for a while and the countries in Latin America form the other main source countries for the sex trafficking victims. The increased interregional migration caused the US to integrate public policies with its neighbors hence focusing on the transit and destination places (Raimo 4). This was very necessary as human trafficking was causing serious issues of sex, violence and drug crimes.
The international bodies recognize certain human rights across the planet as inalienable and therefore violation is a serious offense. These are mainly the crimes against humanity, those that touch directly on human rights like the right to life. Therefore, genocide is a serious international crime. Human trafficking and therefore sex trafficking also qualifies as a serious humanitarian crime internationally (Gretchen 72). When defined in the context of illegal migration, it is only illegal to stay in a country that one is migrant in. therefore in the expansion of this law to address the human rights infringement and exploitation of the victims of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking abuses human rights because it is often involved, coercion, poor standards of living, forced labor, infringes consent of the victim, causes physical harm, emotional torture, it results in health risks or even deadly diseases among other problems. As such, international law is very strict in that a country can be invaded to root out the perpetrators of these crimes (Gretchen 72). One problem has been that the victims often fall in the hands of professional smugglers. Therefore, victims face the risk of being considered accomplices to the crime. International recognizes that sex trafficking is a serious social, economic and political issues. The implication it has on the dignity of the human race is dire, it destabilizes the economic markets and affects the fragile legal and political structure of the developing world (Salt 41). This forms the reason why it is important to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime.
Sex traffickers cause instability in the welfare of Americans and other vulnerable people in other places in the world. The problem is exacerbated by the inability of the international justice system to address the issue, which is a national crisis in a number of states, and it is a growing worldwide concern. The perpetrators of the sex trafficking business are very adaptable to the changing international regulations and continue to be a threat even a laws change. As the legislations are changed and policing continues to take effect, traffickers also adapt and cope with the increased enforcement. There is a very positive link proven to connect sex trafficking, to money laundering, prostitution, document forgery, and human smuggling (U.S. Department of Justice 2). Sex trafficking is detrimental to humanity, and it is dehumanizing (USDOJ 1) as assault does to human dignity.
The fastest-growing international crime is sex trafficking since humans are easy to store and handle compared to drugs. The problem has been that the victims are often children and women. The international law recognizes crimes against children and women as very serious crimes since they are oppressive to the minority and the most vulnerable people in society. This has seen the body of the international and multinational law grow substantially to address such problems (Raimo 2).
Sex Trafficking: An Economic Problem in America
According to the trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), human trafficking victims refers to individuals caused to perform work or a commercial sex process through coercion, fraud, or force. The law considers any persons below 18 years old who practice commercial sex act as a victim of human trafficking without taking into account whether the offender used force, coercion or fraud to get the victim into doing the act. Sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking (Wheaton, Schauer, and Galli 43).
Reynolds argues that “as long as some people demand prostitution services, and are willing to pay for them; there will be someone else who will emerge and supply the demand” (Reynold 4). “The final consumer of the services of the sex-trafficked victim is called a factor” (Wheaton, Schauer, and Galli. 130). In some cases, the consumer may not know the status of the service provider. In fact, “If the consumers generally are unaware of the trafficked-labor nature of their purchase, then they may be uninformed about the bondage state of the prostitutes they frequent” (Bertone 12). The United States is the country with the largest sex trafficking cartels in the entire world. Many victims of these cartels are ordinary children and youthful women who are neither ran always or abandoned.
This group falls prey to a clever swindler who lures and coerces them into sex business for their own individual gain at the expense of their victims. Human trafficking differs from other illegal dealings, such as drug and weapon trafficking, with a wide margin. Whereas one can sell an amount of a drug or weapon once, he/she can sell victims of human trafficking repeatedly. This characteristic makes them almost priceless to the trafficker. Studies and research conducted on human trafficking in the United States are unreliable. According to the Department of Justice, the number of reported incidences of human trafficking exceeded 1,200 casualties in 2008. However, the inadequacy of research on human trafficking at the state level compromises the validity of this statistic.
By virtue of being underground thus far, the social services workers and federal government do not know the accurate number of the victims of human trafficking and the statistics fluctuate. Indeed, a top official of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Ambassador John Miller, attests to the fact that the number of the victims of human trafficking will continually be an estimate. This holds as long as trafficking victims fail to stand in line and present themselves for counting, and that the current statistic is the best evidence they have garnered.
FBI estimates more than 100,000 children and young women fall victim to human traffickers on daily in America (U.S Department of Justice 32). The extent of indifference on instruction, prosecution, and penalty of human traffickers is negligible. This condition leaves a lot to be desired in the sense that the police officers, politicians, and local officials may be silent about this crime because traffickers bribe them. Sex traffickers are making huge profits of more than $32 billion yearly.
The human trafficking business thrives because judges are unable to prosecute traffickers. The nature of the crime requires that women who are victims be witnesses and give testimony in courts for the tribunal to prove their case against the offender(s). These women often do stand in the court because of fear of stigma and/or because of the threats from their offenders. Usually, the trafficker often inflicts enormous sufferings on them, such as burning them with acid or threatening to murder their family members. In addition, some characteristics of the victim contribute to the challenge of prosecuting the perpetrators of the crime. The victims are often unsophisticated; an immigrant from a corrupt country and likely to believe her captors’ intimidation that she could be arrested if she flees. Such naivety gives the juries a hard time because they are perplexed at the reason why she could not break and run when an opportunity presented.
Wheaton, Schauer, and Galli present the human trafficking market as a monopolistic competition made up of numerous sellers and buyers carrying out transactions on different a range of products (122). The perpetrators of this illegal business usually meet few obstacles to venture into the business when they witness the huge profits traffickers make. Similarly, they do not encounter problems while exiting the market when upon realizing losses. This condition shapes the nature market into neither non-monopolistic nor oligopolistic (Wheaton, Schauer, and Galli 129). Despite the huge amount of suppliers, product differentiation defined by unique individual characteristics confers a competitive advantage to specific sellers turning them into monopolistic sellers. This group of sellers gains controls over product prices.
As Bush points out, “The model of monopolistic competition suits the human trafficking market for various reasons” (2). First, many sellers are present in the market. These sellers range from organization of human trafficking criminals (Office on Violence against Women, 2000) to minute, mobile networks of entrepreneurs. Either way, the gains on the business outweigh the costs by large so that it gives a willing organization assurance. The criminals are creative to survive in an environment full of competition so that they need to adjust quickly to any abrupt changes or even go to extremes to secure the business. Second, most “buyers may demand human sex trafficking victims for various reasons” (Wheaton, Schauer, and Galli 119).
Hiring trafficked persons is naturally exploitative since they often do not exercise freedom whether to provide sex commercial service or not, for how long, or what kind of ‘client’ to accept. Third, people “define the market by product differentiation” (Wheaton, Schauer, and Galli 118). The buyer can exercise his preferences in terms of age, stature, or race of the victim. According to Bales, “the attributes of the product vary based on the jobs or economic sectors in which the buyer desires to use the trafficked person, whether in lodges, hotels or brothels: for public or executive clients” (476). Regardless of the different use for trafficked victims, the trafficker and employer must negotiate over the price charges indicating the trafficker’s control over the selling price. Both the consumers and employers share the same objective, which is paying the lowest price to maximize benefits.
The consumer in this regard weights the costs and the gains on service net benefit. Increasing expenses on human traffickers have the greatest impact on the supply of sex trafficked victims. Synchronized international law sanction and legal cooperation, and harsher penalties for those intercepted conveying individuals illegally and forcefully will increase the cost of trafficking. Therefore, based on the expositions that the paper has tabled, sex trafficking is a threat, not only in America but also in the entire world. Young women, energetic as they are, have suffered a fair deal of challenges that result from sex trafficking. The challenges, leave alone affecting the family as the fundamental basic unit, have gone further to affect the political, social, and economic spheres. This effect is evident in America. Consequently, based on the position that America holds in the globe, it suffices to declare the evil act a global catastrophe that, it not well checked into, might blur the future of the potential group of people: the young child. Therefore, the world has a crucial role to play to end the crime.
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