How to Identify Sex Trafficking Victims?

Slavery has been practiced through history. The Roman Empire maintained a thriving slave trade with slaves culled from all parts of their vast empire serving the upper classes. Muslims enslaved white people much later from the 16th to 18th centuries. Slavery was a practice in Africa for centuries, and when the Americans colonies were formed, an entire new market opened for African slave traders. The British forced people, mostly Irish into indentured or involuntary servitude in the 19th century, which was a term of slavery which could theoretically be worked off. America put an end to slavery in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation.

How to Identify Sex Trafficking Victims?

Currently, slavery is not a legal practice anywhere in the world, though it is still practiced by terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, and by criminal organizations throughout the world. The profits from contemporary slavery worldwide are approximately 150 billion dollars a year. Sex trafficking is one motive. There are modern day slavers who lure young women and men, or kidnap them, and force them to work as prostitutes. This is a very lucrative criminal enterprise. Human trafficking is a sanitized, politically correct word for contemporary slavery. Human traffickers are slavers. 19% of victims of contemporary slavery are forced into prostitution.


What is Sex slave trafficking?

  • The victims of sex slave trafficking tend to young women in their late teen and early twenties, to younger teenagers, and most heinous children and even infants. They are also forced to make pornographic movies and go on live pornographic web cams
  • The perpetrators are typically involved with organized crime on some level, or part of a smaller independent criminal organization. They are the traders, buyers, kidnappers, pimps
  • The customers are those who solicit prostitutes, regardless of age.


Hubs for Human Trafficking

Hubs for Human Trafficking

There are certain areas where victims of contemporary slavery will be captured, transported, or carry out prostitution. These are the most likely places were civilians will have chance encounters with sex slaves. This includes:

  • The internet
    Slavers will place ads on line for nannies, housekeepers, models, actors, movie extras, strippers, or porn stars. This is the first step in recruiting victims. Naïve young people will respond, travel internationally or cross county, far from family or supports, and be victimized. 
  • Airports, Bus stations and Train stations
    Slavers will look for potential victims to entice, or rendezvous with girls they have enticed and recruited with online ads. 
  • Hotels/Motels are places where John’s (prostitute solicitors) will bring prostitutes.


Signs of a Sex Trafficking Victim

Signs of a Sex Trafficking Victim

As with all behavioral profiles, the signs below are inconclusive. These are indicators that something is wrong, and when several of these indicators are present, it is more likely a positive finding of a sex trafficking victim. Things to look for, especially at the hubs mentioned above are: 

  • Fearful anxious, and avoidant of eye contact.
  • Misery, tearfulness or other indicators of depression.
  • Bruises, lacerations, or ligature marks (linear bruises indicating they have been tied up).
  • In the company of an older dominating adult. 
  • Seldom if ever alone
  • There will be someone translating or speaking for them. 
  • Others will control their money
  • Secretive, or obviously fabricated, implausible details about themselves, or inconsistency.  
  • No identification 
  • Confined to a residence or unable to quit their job 
  • Young, foreign, good looking, unable to speak English
  • Under age prostitute.   
  • Unwilling prostitute  
  • Fearful of law enforcement or authorities
  • Illegal alien
  • Addiction to drugs or alcohol


How to Identify the Perpetrators of Sex Trafficking?

This can be even more difficult. They will typically be older men and women, in a position of obvious control over a number of younger women or men. Again, these signs are inconclusive and have to be taken in context.


Taking Appropriate Action

If you believe you have identified a victim of sex trafficking, there are several actions you can take to intervene. If you are a civilian, it not recommended that you attempt to intervene personally, but do act promptly and decisively, as minutes can count. 

The bad guys receive a great deal of media coverage and attention from the public. Let’s take a moment to hear about the good guys. Some people should get to know is Tim Ballard and his organization Operation Underground Railroad. He and his team of mostly ex-military and ex-intelligence operatives’ travel the world to rescue victims of sex trafficking. There are many ways to support the work they do. See their website.


Some closing thoughts:

  1. Call it what it is. It is sex slavery, or contemporary slavery. Human trafficking detracts from the horrific reality. 
  2. Do something to support organizations that fight against slavery and sex trafficking. 
  3. Keep your eyes open, and don’t look the other way if you see something suspicious. Get involved by appropriate reporting to authorities. 

Related Reading:

How to File a Police Report?

How to Identify a Pedophile?

How to Protect Your Children from Predators?

How to Identify a Sex Offender?