By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
Sex trafficking is not something that is easily understood, or frequently discussed. Many times victims of sex trafficking, like victims of domestic violence, face being stigmatized by their communities and our society as a whole. As human beings, it is common for us to attempt to categorize people and place them into boxes. By doing so, we are able to quickly understand and label others, to distinguish whether or not we like them, and decide how we interact with them.
The problem with these labels, however, is that they allow for clouded judgment and misunderstanding instead of tolerance, compassion, and understanding. It’s common for us to put victims of sex trafficking in very rigid and unkind boxes--within our society they may be viewed as willing prostitutes or even undocumented citizens attempting to gain citizenship--all of these accusations are false. Most victims of sex trafficking are unwilling workers who are forced to work, abused, and threatened.
Victims of sex trafficking may find their way into this “business” for many different reasons. In some cases children or teens are kidnapped and forced into the industry. Runaways and those living on the streets also face being lured into the sex trafficking industry. Some victims may be tricked or coerced into the industry with promises of wealth or a better life. One thing to remember about the sex trafficking industry is that it relies on members of vulnerable populations to fulfill its needs. Traffickers may target women and children because of their disenfranchised place within society. Immigrants and undocumented citizens may also be targets due to their limited access to resources. Traffickers are tactful and understand that by using lies, manipulation and false hope, they are sometimes able to coerce people into their work.
While it is true that human trafficking can take place in legitimate business settings, victims typically will not seek immediate help. Many times victims of sex trafficking face depression, self-blame, and trust issues. Victims may be scared of what will happen to them if they do turn to others for help. Just because somebody does not turn to you for help does not mean that they do not want help, or need help.
Before you make snap judgments about those working in the sex industry, remember that a majority of victims do not willingly chose to be part of it. It is up to us to end the stigma that is attached to sex trafficking. By breaking down the boxes that we created and the labels we attach, we are taking a small step to change the way that victims of sex trafficking are seen within our society.