Sex Trafficking Many Americans May Be Shocked Term Paper

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Sex Trafficking

Many Americans may be shocked to find out that slavery -- in the form of human sex trade trafficking -- still exists. They may be further shocked to find out that the Untied States is the second most trafficked destination for women caught in the sex trade (Schauer and Wheaton 1). Agreed to be "an assault on human dignity," the problem of Sex Trafficking has called many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and researchers to discover the facts involved in the practice (Schauer and Wheaton 9; Soderlund 1). This paper intends to show the facts, including: the extent and complexity of the problem, who is involved, where it happens, and what is being done.

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This paper will proceed by first discussing the extent and complexity of the problem. How widespread is sex trafficking? What makes it a difficult issue and why do governmental agencies struggle to eliminate it? Many of these answers are related to why trafficking occurs, as well as where. How much do politics and regional conditions affect the sex trade? Who are the women and children in the sex trade and how do they end up there? Since the trade of individuals has gone on for thousands of years, it is also necessary to look at the affects of sex trafficking, both in terms of the women and in terms of society. Are individuals ever able to leave the sex trade? What effect does the trade have on government? The U.S. government, other governments, and many NGOs are further involved in stopping the exploitive activities inherent in the sex trade. What have the done, and what are they doing? This paper will identify what information is available to answer these questions while exploring the issue of sex trafficking.

Term Paper on Sex Trafficking Many Americans May Be Shocked Assignment

Sex trafficking is a complex issue (Schauer and Wheaton 1-2). The CIA reports that an estimated 700,000 individuals are trafficked worldwide every year, most for the sex trade (Schauer and Wheaton 1). These trafficked individuals come from many different countries and travel to many different countries, often illegally. This makes them difficult to follow and trace, or even to count (Soderlund 1-2). The extent of the problem of sex trafficking is additionally obvious in the United States' -- and many other countries' -- continuously thwarted efforts to eliminate it.

Most reasons for the existence of the sec trade are economic; according to Schauer and Wheaton, slave labor directly produces about $13-20 billion each year (15). Additionally, traffickers can normally earn 5-20 times the initial purchase price of each victim once they transport the individuals to their destination country (Schauer and Wheaton 17). This makes it a lucrative profession for those who deal in human slavery. Because of the financial benefits, individuals are likely to recruit women to the sex trade through advertisements to work or study abroad (Schauer and Wheaton 10).

Economics may make some women actually seek out the men who will exploit them. Coming from politically or economically unstable countries, many women seek help in crossing borders into more stable countries. When they enlist help, however, they are at the whim of their captors and often led into situations that are very unlike what they had intended. This may include debt bondage, where they must work as prostitutes to raise enough money to pay back the men who transported them (Schauer and Wheaton 9; Soderlund 5). Once they have paid their debts, they often remain as prostitutes because they have no other means of support or find themselves in a strange country. This is problematic for many NGOs and other groups, who seek to "save" women from prostitution, though the women may feel that it is the only things that they can do. Soderlund adds:

an obsessive focus on sex trafficking ultimately distracts from drawing connections between gendered poverty and forced prostitution and presumes a moralistic approach that is unlikely to consider poverty, hunger, and low wages as equally pressing forms of violence against women. Subtle differences in the definition of trafficking, its causes, and effects, lead to decidedly different institutional responses to these phenomena" (6).

This may imply that the goal of ending trafficking should look not only at the end result but at the core: where it starts.

Where it occurs, however, is nearly everywhere. Despite its prevalence, some facts are known about the places it occurs most frequently. In the Untied States, an estimated 18,000 people are trafficked into the country each year for the sex trade. Of these, 96% are women and almost half are children (Schauer and Wheaton 1). Individuals are commonly trafficked to the United States from Russia (and other former Soviet Block nations), Asia, and Mexico. The top destinations of trafficked individuals (in order) are: Germany; the United States; Italy; the Netherlands; Japan; Greece; India; Thailand; and Australia (Schauer and Wheaton 8). With all of these countries being end destinations for the sex trade, it is not difficult to believe the estimate that 700,000 to 2 million women and girls are trafficked across national borders each year (Schauer and Wheaton 16).

The victims of sex trafficking often have little recourse. They have often been taken to a strange country where they many not speak the language, and are often the subject of fear tactics to keep them in line (i.e., telling them that the police will arrest them for prostitution). Schauer and Wheaton report, "Mostly women and children are trafficked for the sex trade -- they being the most vulnerable members of humanity to sexual exploitation" (15). Children are at particular risk because they are highly motivated by fear and are easily "smuggled" over borders as the false children of other travelers (Schauer and Wheaton 8). Both women and children face a difficult task in being rehabilitated if and when they do gain their own freedom, due to the abuse and degradation they endured. Again, others voluntarily stay or return to the sex trade because it is all they know (Soderlund 12-13).

How the sex trade affects society is a very debatable point. Soderlund argues that the United States in particular looks at all prostitution in terms of immorality. This complicates efforts to help trafficked individuals, since man organizations seek to end all prostitution while many women are prostitutes by choice and have not been trapped in human trafficking as others have (Soderlund). Soderlund continues:

Focusing primarily on abuses like violence against women and organizing around them as though they were the only distinctly gendered form of human rights violation, ultimately casts women as victims in need of protection from harm rather than as subjects deserving of positive rights" (14).

In other words, women who choose, usually because of economic conditions, to enter into the sex trade still have positive rights and may not need "rescuing." These women nevertheless should have access to services and help, without being forced to accept it (Soderlund 12-13).

Schauer and Wheaton report that the U.S. government considers that consent is "irrelevant" in exploitation (3-4). Women who may be voluntarily involved in their own exploitation, according to the United States, are at risk and must be helped along with those that have been trafficked and entered the sex trade involuntarily. Many women participate in the sex trade because their other options for work are significantly limited. Women do not want to work in sweatshops or as maids, and may see sex work as their best opportunity for upward financial mobility (Soderlund 5). This makes it difficult for the United States to properly address the issue, as it has different societal "norms" than other countries (Schauer and Wheaton 3-5; Soderlund 12-13). As such, the American conception of how sex trafficking affects society would be vastly different to that of nations where prostitution is more socially acceptable. "Freedom, as either utopian quest or bedrock of democratic… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Sex Trafficking Many Americans May Be Shocked" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Sex Trafficking Many Americans May Be Shocked.  (2007, December 2).  Retrieved April 5, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Sex Trafficking Many Americans May Be Shocked."  2 December 2007.  Web.  5 April 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Sex Trafficking Many Americans May Be Shocked."  December 2, 2007.  Accessed April 5, 2020.