According to the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the crime of human trafficking is defined as:
A. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or
B. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Child sex trafficking occurs when minors (under the age of 18) are sexually exploited for commercial gain. Children can be commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and/or erotic entertainment.
- Child sex slavery and exploitation is child abuse for money. (It is not willful prostitution performed by “underage criminals.”)
- An estimated two million children across the globe are held captive and bought and sold for sex. (Source: UNICEF)
- At least 100,000 children per year are sexually exploited in the U.S. alone. Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)
- Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States. (U.S. Department of Justice)
- 60% of sexually exploited kids in the U.S. are recruited out of the nation’s welfare and foster care systems. (U.S. Senate Finance Committee)
- The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the U.S. is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)
- The average number of clients that trafficked children are forced to have sex with daily is 1-15.
- Human Trafficking is the 3rd largest international crime industry, behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking. It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion, $9.5 billion in the United States, every year. (CNN Freedom Project, The United Nations)
Commercial sexual exploitation is different than sexual assault, molestation or rape. The term “commercial sex act” is defined by the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act as “the giving or receiving of anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.) to any person in exchange for a sex act.”
The age of victims is the critical issue — there is no requirement to prove force, fraud, or coercion was used to secure the victim’s actions. The law recognizes the effect of psychological manipulation by the trafficker, as well as the effect of threat of harm which traffickers/pimps use to maintain control over their young victims.