Sex trafficking happens here in the U.S. and it is not hard to find.

A 14 year-old girl is sold to a dozen men a day for sex inside of a trailer that is within miles of a prestigious college in South Carolina.

This is sex trafficking.

A boy is exploited on the streets of Houston by men looking for sex. The boy has no other way to provide for himself and his little brother since his parents deserted them.

This is sex trafficking.

A woman sells her body on some street in America as her pimp watches from a distance.

This is sex trafficking.

Sex trafficking can take many different forms. The immediate image that often comes to mind is of a person being kidnapped, drugged, and forced into prostitution in some country that is hard to pronounce. However, according to the federal definition of sex trafficking, it can be and is found in most parts of the United States, from big cities to rural communities. Sex trafficking is the exploitation of a person through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex.

Exploitation is the act of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work. Human traffickers are essentially modern day slave owners and usually stop at nothing to exploit another person. They know that if they can control a person to do work and unfairly steal their earnings, they will become rich. As the definition describes, traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to convince and control people.

Force can be described as using physical strength against a person including beatings and torture this creates fear. The victim knows that if escape is attempted and fails, they will likely be severely beaten. Fraud includes using lies and false promises to sell hopes of a better future. Traffickers targeting vulnerable people, promise to provide for all of their needs and promise their wildest dreams. These people are often naïve, desperate, or disillusioned enough to believe them. Coercion is using intimidation or threats to persuade someone to do something they would otherwise not do. If a trafficker threatens to hurt a teenage girls little sister if she doesn’t do what he says, that is coercion.

What is commercial sex?

Simply, it is the sale of sex on a commercial basis. Sex becomes a product that people want to buy.

Who do we think of when someone sells their body for sex on a commercial basis?

Prostitute and with that word usually comes a flood of demeaning adjectives, like “dirty”, “worthless”, or “loose”.

A common misconception is that all prostitutes have chosen their lifestyle because they love money and sex. However, the definition of sex trafficking describes a person being forced, tricked, or coerced into a life of prostitution by someone who exploits them to benefit from their work. The trafficker has selfish intentions; the victim falls under their control and is forced into prostitution. This exploitation happens to a person with hopes, dreams, and a future. A human being whom God created in His own image. Yet many Americans and Christians cast prostitutes aside as “dirty” and not worthy of our compassion, not caring to take a deeper look at why that teenage girl (for instance) is walking the streets at night. In the meantime, these people slowly fade away, dying on the outside from diseases or murder and dying on the inside from constant abuse and lack of love.

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