The recent international sex trafficking sting in Florida that involved prominent members of society, such as Robert Kraft and John Childs, has brought the discussion of sex trafficking back into the spotlight. Too often, people regard prostitution as a victimless crime or underestimate the prevalence of sex trafficking. Given that Virginia is #6 in the nation for active sex trafficking cases, it’s important to break down some of the myths surrounding this international issue.
Myth #1: Prostitution is a Victimless Crime
Fact: In the words of Lisa Thompson, Vice President of Policy and Research at the National Center for Sexual Exploitation, “every man who buys sex from a woman in a brothel or any of these establishments, [has] contracted out the job of violence, intimidation or coercion to a pimp or brothel owner”. In other words, soliciting a prostitute always gives money to people that are using violence, drug addiction or other illicit means to force vulnerable individuals into trafficking.
Myth #2: Sex Trafficking Victims are from Impoverished Backgrounds
Fact: According to the Department of Homeland Security, victims can be any age, race, gender, nationality or socioeconomic status. Anyone can be a victim. Though often extremely underreported and overlooked, men and young boys are also victims. According to Polaris, LGBTQ+ youths are among some of the most vulnerable.
Myth #3: Victims of Sex Trafficking Were Kidnapped
Fact: Victims are often recruited by friends, significant others, and even family members. Victims are usually not physically restrained by their traffickers, but endure psychological abuse, threats and manipulation. Traffickers often recruit at rehab facilities, foster homes, jails and homeless shelters where they prey on vulnerable individuals and use methods such as fostering drug addiction and threatening family members to keep victims in control.
Sex-trafficking is an international issue, but it happens in our own communities. Want to get involved in the fight against human and sex trafficking? Check out the “It Happens Here” or “International Justice Mission” organizations on Virginia Tech campus!