Attacking Sex Trafficking by Attacking Sex Workers?

Sep 28, 2014
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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.

sex Attacking Sex Trafficking by Attacking Sex Workers?

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.

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Attacking Sex Trafficking by Attacking Sex Workers? | The Rob Black Website
6 years ago

[…] Attacking Sex Trafficking by Attacking Sex Workers? […]

Ernest Greene
Ernest Greene
6 years ago

The mighty Marty Klein Hammer of Truth shatters yet another sex-panic myth. He’s good that way. Particularly spot-on about the bullshit of “at risk.” Many so-called “anti-trafficking” groups literally claim every single minor reported missing in the U.S. every year as “at risk” for trafficking. Breaking that down in to real numbers based on actual cases, however, turns out that the majority of those reported missing are runaways who return home after a few days and parental kidnappings involving custody disputes. Every time they hold some giant LE operation to crack down on “sex-trafficking” the result is around a hundred… Read more »

Deep Throat
6 years ago
Reply to  Ernest Greene

Marty Klein is great at breaking this kind of thing down, in a gentle matter-of-fact way. Everything he (and you) have stated ought to be obvious to anyone with a brain (and a heart), but, sadly, fanatics don’t care about facts, or who they hurt to achieve their ends.

Jody Williams
6 years ago

I have been a witness and participant to the sex industry and trafficking since the late 1970’s. While intertwined – they are different. I liken it to very much how the meat industry is in some locations. Some will treat the cattle well, giving them beer to drink and even massaging them as they do with Kobe beef – while others are subjecting the animals to horrible treatment, abuse and murder. A lot of it has to do with demand. As more people started demanding that the beef they were eating was raised “better” and more “humane” – the more… Read more »

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