Human And Sex Trafficking In The U.S.

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While you are probably aware that human and sex trafficking is a serious problem in countries such as Thailand and India, you may not have known that it is a large problem here in the United States. While abuse lawyers like those at can help victims of human and sex trafficking take legal action against their captors, trafficking is an issue that has sadly gone widely unnoticed in America.

Asian Americans are disproportionally trafficked into sex work in America. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 7,800 Asians and Pacific Islanders were trafficked into America out of an estimated 14,500-17,500 people.

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Defining The Problem

Trafficking of a people is defined as the transportation, recruitment, transfer, harboring or receipt of people by means of threat or the use of force or other forms of fraud, deception, coercion, or abduction. The purpose of trafficking is to exploit people for the use of labor, sex work, and even the removal of organs for the purpose of selling them. Sex trafficking is a subset of human trafficking.

Trafficking And Abuse By The Numbers

This horrific form of slavery is far more prevalent than most would assume. Here are some facts and figures that may surprise you.

  • Globally, there are 36 million victims of human trafficking.
  • Sex trafficking is the third-fastest growing trade in the world.
  • Between 100,000 and 300,000 people are trafficked for sex work in the U.S.
  • Half of the people trafficked into the United States each year are children.
  • Sex trafficking generates $99 billion in revenue each year.

Sex Trafficking Of Asians In America

One of the first documented cases of sex trafficking occurred in the red light district of San Francisco during the gold rush of 1849. Young Chinese girls were brought to this area, called the Barbary Coast, by Chinese merchants, and were raised to prostitute themselves. They were fed opium, and when they aged enough to be considered "unattractive," they were placed in a room with enough drugs to overdose. If they chose not to overdose, they either starved to death, or were murdered.

Currently, asians are being trafficked into otherwise innocuous workplaces and are forced to perform sex acts. Some are forced to work at motels and hotels, and are ushered into rooms to perform sex acts when they are not working long hours at these establishments.

In addition, fake massage parlors have become a hotbed for the sex slavery of asians in America. Captors and traders of sex slaves use a variety of methods to obtain and keep sex slaves:

  • Force: by isolating and supervising the victims, or by physically or sexually abusing victims, sex workers are forced into sex acts.
  • Coercion: by confiscating travel documents, charging exorbitant amounts of money for food, shelter, and protection, and by inhibiting communication with family and friends, victims are coerced into feeling that sex work is their only way to survive.
  • Fraud: by telling victims they will be working in a different profession, by creating fake visas to transport them, and by promising an improved life, victims are tricked into trusting their captors.

5 Things You Can Do To Prevent Trafficking And Abuse

According to the U.S. Department of State, there are many things the average person can do to prevent and stop human trafficking.

  1. Go to to see how much of the items you use in your everyday life have been made with slave labor.
  2. Attend a human trafficking awareness training to learn the warning signs and red flags that indicate someone is being trafficked. (*You can also read about the warning signs online).
  3. Talk to your local school board to see about including human trafficking information into curriculums in your district. Specifically, aim to get curriculums to include literature on how traffickers target children.
  4. Save the number for National Human Trafficking Resource Center in your phone so that you can be prepared to report red flags. The number is 1-888-373-7888.
  5. Donate to an anti-trafficking organization.

What Is The Government Doing To Help?

There are a number laws that are currently in place to protect victims of trafficking and to prevent human trafficking from happening now and in the future.

  • The Mann Act: prohibits transportation of persons across state and country lines for the purpose of sex work.
  • Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013: among other provisions, this act bans the U.S. from importing goods made with the labor of people who have been trafficked.
  • Survivors of Human Trafficking Empowerment Act: introduced to the House in January of 2015, this act establishes the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which is required to meet at least once annually to analyze and assess the government's progress in combating and preventing human trafficking.
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