Human Trafficking 101
TRUST was founded to bring collaborative engagement on issues involving Human Trafficking.
Working together across Arizona
Sadly, some victims are trafficked by family members while others are initiated into “the life” through an older boyfriend or girlfriend who forces them to perform sex acts for personal profit. These victims often have a difficult early life including poverty, child maltreatment, domestic violence or substance use in the home which places them at risk for being trafficked.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) defined
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) sometimes referred to as domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), occurs when U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident minors (under the age of 18) are commercially sexually exploited.
Children can be commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, stripping, sex tourism, erotic entertainment or other sexual acts.
The commercial aspect of the sexual exploitation is critical to separating the crime of sex trafficking from sexual assault, molestation or rape. The term “commercial sex act” is the giving or receiving of anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.) to any person in exchange for a sex act.
An Overview and Introduction to Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking defined
Under U.S. federal law, “severe forms of trafficking in persons” includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking:
- Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (22 USC § 7102).
- Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery, (22 USC § 7102).
Human trafficking is a business, and for any business to survive, it requires supply and demand
In this case, there appears to be a growing demand fueled by easy access through the internet, and a ready supply of victims that are constantly being recruited and exploited.
Sadly, some victims are trafficked by family members, some end up selling sex as a means to support drug use, while others are initiated into “the life” through an older boyfriend or girlfriend who forces them to perform sex acts for personal profit. These victims often have a difficult early life including poverty, child maltreatment, domestic violence or substance use in the home which places them at risk for being trafficked.
Successful prosecution of traffickers is a long and complicated process for law enforcement. It is very difficult to get victims to testify against their traffickers. Victims are often scared and fear retaliation.
What is the community in Arizona doing?
Arizona has a large network of organizations and groups who are fighting human trafficking – through innovative law enforcement efforts, demand reduction, victim services, research institutions, and prevention efforts.
Over the last few years, community awareness regarding trafficking has increased substantially, highlighting a need for a more coordinated and integrated response. There are many distinct groups in Arizona working independently and collaboratively on the issue.
Through the continued coordination of efforts, new and sustainable resources can be developed, and laws can be adopted to facilitate arrests, prosecute the buyers and traffickers, and prioritize the identification and protection of those involved in human trafficking,
Backpage.com was likely the largest internet source for advertising underage sex trafficking in Arizona
While the list of internet sources where sex can be advertised and purchased is ever-changing, nearly 80 percent of the ads that were posted as ‘adult services’ on Backpage.com were actually for the sale of sex.
The Backpage Indictment
On April 6, 2018 federal authorities seized Backpage.com while simultaneously raiding the site founders’ homes in Arizona. The founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin have been charged with conspiring to knowingly facilitate prostitution offenses through the website. Authorities contend some of the trafficked people included teenage girls.