The crime trafficking in persons (TIP) is considered “the fastest growing type of organized crime” and “the third-largest criminal activity in the world.” If that weren’t disturbing enough, get this: the International Labor Organization’s most recent estimates report global profits for traffickers reaching $150 billion USD annually.
We don’t know about you, but those hard-hitting stats seem to make clear how big of a problem human trafficking is.
Thankfully, numerous governmental and non-governmental agencies across the globe have begun taking steps to fight it.
The US State Department (USSD) is one of the agencies taking action. They partner with foreign governments, international organizations, other federal agencies, civil society, the private sector, and survivors of human trafficking to combat modern slavery.
One of the USSD’s most influential public engagement tools is an annual human trafficking report. More specifically, the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which evaluates government efforts around the world to combat human trafficking and highlights strategies to address this crime and protect victims.
This year’s report, the 19th of its kind, ranks 187 countries and territories between “Tier 1” and “Tier 3” based on the measures that country or territory takes to prosecute traffickers, protect survivors, and prevent further trafficking.
While the TIP Report ranks the U.S. as a “Tier 1” country for its efforts to fight trafficking, it also offered some pretty disappointing information about the U.S.’ consumption of those being sex trafficked. According to the report, the U.S.’ level of sex consumption is one of the primary reasons the sex trafficking market exists.
Not sure how that could be? We’ll break it down for you.
How does U.S. sex consumption help create a sex trafficking market?
What it comes down to is the concept of supply and demand. Remember it from economics class? Basically, someone will only sell or supply a product or service if someone else wants to buy, or has demand for, that product or service. And, as the number of buyers for that product or service increases, the more that seller will produce and sell that product or service.
Take the iPhone for example. Apple would have no reason to produce and sell iPhones if nobody bought them. However, because so many people buy iPhones, Apple produces and sells iPhones.
The same concept applies when it comes to sex trafficking.
As Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT), puts it, “The United States is the number one consumer of sex worldwide. So we are driving the demand as a society.”
So, just like iPhone demand leads Apple to create an iPhone market, so does sex demand lead traffickers to create a sex trafficking market.
We wish that was where the sad news ended, but it doesn’t—especially when it comes to the backgrounds of those who are being most heavily exploited.
A U.S. child is one of the most frequently sex trafficked populations in the world
The stats shared by the TIP Report are a disturbing wake-up call that U.S. children are some of the most heavily sex trafficked people in the world. From the report:
-The top three nations of origin for victims of human trafficking in 2018 were the United States, Mexico, and the Philippines.
-According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, over 300,000 of America’s young population is considered at risk for sexual exploitation each year. It’s also estimated that 199,000 incidents occur within the U.S. each year.
-”There are tremendous numbers of kids, a multitude of kids that are being sold as sex slaves today in America. These are American kids, American-born, 50 percent to 60 percent of them coming out of the foster care industry,” said Geoff Rogers of the USIAHT.
-”We work with victims that are 3-years-old and up,” Brook Bello, the founder of anti-trafficking organization More Too Life said. “The average victim that we work with, that’s over 18, started being raped at three. Trafficking in America, if you are trafficked in the United States, 85 percent of victims that are trafficked here are from here.”
Sad, right? But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We can make a difference.
Fight the demand: porn consumption fuels sex trafficking
As we said earlier, without demand, there’s no supply. So that means we must cut off the demand at its roots, right?
This might surprise you, but one of the most immediate ways we can do that is by refusing to watch porn. That’s because the U.S. is fueling sex trafficking demand through its porn consumption.
The list of connections between porn and sex trafficking is extensive. In some cases, these connections are incidental. For example, the fact that porn exposure has been shown to make consumers less compassionate toward victims of sexual violence and exploitation. However, in other cases, these connections are direct: viewing porn literally changes your brain chemistry—and it does so in such a way that leads you to desire more of what you’re seeing. That becomes even more worrying when you consider how violent and fetishized most of porn is.
When you also take into account the fact that the U.S. consumes more porn than any other country in the world, it’s no wonder sex trafficking is as common and growing as fast as it is.
Remember, when you click, you support sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. By refusing to click and stopping the demand for porn, you can also help to slow the demand for sex trafficking.
So, will you stand with us?