The Sex Trade is the oldest industry in history. It has involved into the virtual world with technological advancements. Whether its to lure via chats such as Kik, Meetme, MocoSpace, Craigslist, or Backpage; the threat is real. Traffickers are opportunists and will make it a point to secure their product (you) from incriminating the pimps and from seeking aid. Intimidation and brainwashing are the keys to this success.
Every state has their fill of crime. Prostitution is common from the streets or through escort services. Masked with beauty parlors and companion “services” women and children are exploited. Some were victims of opportunity while others were desperate for survival from the harsh streets. A great amount of the prostitutes are victims of trafficking across state borders. There is a network between pimps/ traffickers where their “product” or women & children are transported. You may be sitting there saying,“that only happens in other places not here, not to my family.” The fact is that anyone could fall into Sex Slavery.
First let us explore how this occurs and who are more prone to becoming a victim. Criminals will prey on the weak. They will engage and get to know their prey (you), they will know everything about you, gain your trust which is key. They will appear to be honest and pose as a friend or “lover.” Before you know it, you become an item sold over and over and over again. Some will approach you on the street. Others linger in the internet waiting for new meat to arrive and lure in. What I have found to be common across the board international and domestic, is that the victims who appear to have initial gone willingly are given an offer beyond their wildest dreams. Offer of a better life, the idea that they are “loved,” a friend, and of course glamour. Traffickers have taken advantage of Materialism. Whether it’s a couple days to weeks or months of engaging on the internet, the trafficker will either meet or the victim will travel into harms way unknowingly. Either trust is gained in a manner that appears to be respect or violence forces obedience and submission. The fact is that many times the grass in not greener on the other side.
Forceful coercion is a common denominator is most cases if not all. Runaways, homeless, and naive girls and women fall prey and are kidnapped. In the United States we have the Amber Alert that notifies or sends a Be On The Look Out for missing individuals. Common sense would dictate that those forced into sexual servitude at any level would seek help from authorities. This is where the psychological abuse serves best. Victims will be threatened with violence upon them or their loved ones. They will be convinced no one cares and no one will come to the rescue. Victims will be made to understand that there is no one to fend for them and there is nowhere to go. In other occasions, through “gifts” and “perks” a pseudo relationship is established where the victim believes to be “in love” with their captor. Stockholm syndrome is extremely common in traumatic cases. In the documentary by producer Jane Wells Tricked, a pimp by the name of Robert Money stated “All women want to be with the number one.” This was his explanation on how women are willing to work for him. While on the other side of the tracks, in the Ohio town of Toledo two cousins were forced into prostitution and transferred between state lines by a pimp named Deric “Machiavelli” “Daddy.” They were only about 10 miles from home when they became the unfortunate victims of opportunity; who hitched a ride on their way to get ice cream.
More often than none we have seen sex trafficking glamorized in broad spectrum. In terms of the Sex-Trade, we have the film Pretty Woman which is its Cinderrella-esque storyline with prostitution as the main theme. We have the illusion of sexuality in Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana video. And lastly Big Trouble Little China which focuses on the sexual parlors in the heart of San Francisco China Town as the front for an alternative reality being. In all three, the women are presented as sexually driven and victims of chance or economic situation. According to soroptimist.org, “it is a 32 Billion annual industry… 800,000 annual women and children are trafficked.” The criminals get richer on the backs of defenseless women and girls.
Human Sex Trafficking occurs right outside our doors and inside our homes through cyberspace. Without noticing, that pop up of explicit material could be a minor with the identity masked to avoid law enforcement. It occurs in cyberspace through sites with explicit material. With advanced smartphone technology, ordering escort services or setting up appointments to exchange sexual services for payment in a matter of finger swipes.
For those familiar with the Yahoo chatrooms, it was shut down due to sexual related incidents that occurred in real time but originated online. Following, was the Adult Services section on Craigslist. In both their places, backpage.com has become the online directory and go-to spot for sex-trafficking. I had heard about this site but decided to investigate myself. I found that 90% of the massage lists were not only duplicate businesses ( same number) but the women and girls were more than likely forced. Titles with young, new, girls and innocent struck me as odd as that has nothing to do with a “massage” or at least the ones your average law abiding individual would get.
Trafficking becomes a cyber crime when the luring and selling occurs in the virtual realm. This can include usage of social platforms, chatrooms, forums, or smartphone applications to reach out to both potential victims and customers. Advertising occurs online in forms of escort service websites, pornography platforms, and or directory mass advertisements. Women and girls are sold by the service, hour, night and so on.