A terrific post by Marty Klein, PhD —
How many people do you think are sex-trafficked in the US each year? Really?
How many people do you think are sex trafficked in the U.S. every year: 200,000? 300,000?
If your blood’s boiling about what sounds these days like an epidemic, here’s good news: According to the U.S. Justice Department, the actual number of people trafficked into the country for all reasons (mostly for labor rather than sex) is about 17,500 people year. In a rare show of bureaucratic consensus, the U.S. State Department’s estimate is between 14,000-17,000.
“But,” you say, “surely that’s too low? What about the numbers I hear from all these anti-trafficking organizations?”
Good question. And here’s the answer: if you define trafficking broadly enough, it does look like there are a million or more victims. The numbers also sound enormous if you’re vague about whether the trafficking involves the U.S. or semi-functional countries like Moldova, Haiti, and Bangladesh.
Some non-profit organizations define sex trafficking to include all prostitutes. Others include all porn actresses. Still others include anyone giving hand jobs in a massage parlor. Forced marriage of teen girls and older men is ugly—and virtually unknown in the U.S.. But some anti-sex trafficking activists count these young people as well. No wonder these activists or “researchers” get such enormous, scary, numbers.
Most manipulative of all, activists keep warning of the number of people “at risk” for being sex trafficked—millions of women and children. “At risk” because they’re poor, or unloved, or drug-addicted, or have trouble with English.
Using that logic, 45 million Americans are “at risk” of dying in plane crashes every month, and twenty million Californians are “at risk” of dying in car crashes every week. No one’s in a panic about that, of course, because such definitions of “at risk” are meaningless.