Defining Sex Trafficking

  • Nita BellesEmail author


Sex trafficking is a crime that is illegal in every country in the world, yet it still takes place in every country worldwide. Victims of sex trafficking are controlled by their traffickers, leaving the victim virtually powerless. The traffickers maintain power and control over every facet of the victim’s life. Traffickers also control all the proceeds from any sex that is sold and often traffic multiple victims at any given time.

Human trafficking consists of both labor and sex trafficking, and oftentimes those two are intertwined. When something of value is exchanged for a sex act, that is known as commercial sex, and when that is combined with force, fraud, or coercion, it becomes sex trafficking. Also in many countries, when the victim is under 18 years of age, even if they don’t admit to being forced, frauded, or coerced, a commercial sex act still constitutes sex trafficking because their age makes them a child, unable to make the decision to sell sex acts.

The stages of recruitment of a person for sex trafficking are (1) gaining the trust of and recruiting the victim, (2) seasoning or breaking the victim’s will, (3) turning the victim out to be trafficked, and (4) maintaining control. When a victim has been recovered and seeks treatment, it can take many years or even a lifetime for them to deal with the trauma that has been inflicted on them.

Sex trafficking is sometimes referred to as the worst atrocity on planet earth.


  1. Dempsey, M. M., Hoyle, C., & Bosworth, M. (2012). Defining sex trafficking in international and domestic law: Mind the gaps. Emory International Law Review, 26(1), 137–162.Google Scholar
  2. US Department of Health and Human Services. (2006, August 15). HHS fights to stem human trafficking. Retrieved from

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.In Our BackyardRedmondUSA

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