Type: Sociology
Pages: 11 | Words: 3300
Reading Time: 14 Minutes


Sex trafficking victims are exploited for commercial sex. The USA recognizes it as an illegal activity and defines sex trafficking in its constitution. Even though anyone can be affected, female and underage people account for the majority of the victims. In addition, there is a disproportionate representation of African Americans as both victims and perpetrators of sex trafficking offenses. Sex trafficking has various negative impacts on the victims that range from psychological to physical, economic and social effects. However, there have been efforts from different players including the government to enact legislation that promotes fighting the vice, law enforcers to investigate and arrest the offenders and rescue girls from the streets. Race and social class are variables that are important in victims and offenders and in influencing the success of the measures put in place. Nonetheless, there is a need to reevaluate the solutions to promote their effectiveness.

Sex Trafficking in the USA: The Role of Race and Social Class

Human trafficking has been a persistent problem across the world — the perpetrators of these activities sell people for various reasons, one of these being to exploit the victims for sexual purposes. Sex trafficking is consequently one of the leading issues in the USA touching men, women and children. The cause for this is the country offers a lucrative market due to the high demand for commercial sex workers. Consequently, there have been measures from both public and private actors to address the problem. Understanding sex trafficking in the USA is essential because the country is both a source and destination for many victims and the issue remains pervasive despite the efforts put to resolve it.

Definition of Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is a global problem that affects thousands of people. It is a form of modern-day slavery that involves force, coercion and even fraud with the intention of exploiting the victims for commercial sex. The USA constitution through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex trafficking as the act of recruiting, transporting, harboring or even proving individuals for commercial sex through fraud, coercion or force (McCabe, & Manian, 2010, b). The use of force involves causing physical harm by the perpetrators to the victims to obtain and maintain control of them. Fraud involves the use of false promises to lure individuals into the industry while coercion involves the use of threats of physical abuse or physical restraint to gain control and force a person into acts associated with sex trafficking. It also includes sexual activities with individuals under the age of 18 years (McCabe & Manian, 2010, b). The definition extends to cover a variety of other activities such as exotic dancing and pornography. Understanding this notion is therefore essential in comprehending the issue of sex trafficking.

How Pervasive Is the Problem?

The USA is not immune to the problem of sex trafficking. The country’s government suggests that below 50,000 individuals fall victims of sex trafficking each year (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). However, the gap that exists in sex trafficking data in the USA makes it difficult to provide accurate data on the exact number of victims (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). Regardless of this, it is evident that men, women and children alike are all victims of sex trafficking. The sex trafficking industry in the USA is lucrative with estimated proceeds from this illegal business standing at approximately 12 billion USA dollars per year (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). The National Human Trafficking Hotline in the USA reported 5,591 cases of trafficking in 2016 alone (Global Slavery Index, 2018). 95.1% of the cases involved sex trafficking. A further report released in 2018 indicates that there are more than 9000 illegal businesses in the USA involved in human trafficking estimated to have revenues of approximately 2.5 billion USA dollars (Global Slavery Index, 2018). Therefore, even though it is difficult to state the extent of human trafficking explicitly, it is evident that this widespread problem requires adequate measures to address it.

The USA as a Source and Destination of Sex Trafficking Victims

In many instances, people refer to the USA as a land of opportunities making it a preferred destination for many. It turns it into an endpoint for numerous victims from other nations. The US Department of Justice estimates that between 14000 and 17000 individuals are trafficked into the USA for labor and sexual exploitation (Hemmert, 2018). Similarly, some of the victims of sex trafficking come from within the country. Some of them, such as the young black girls coerced into sex trade discussed by Amber 2010, are from within America. Having foreign and local victims makes the USA both a source and destination for sex trafficking victims.

Impacts of Globalization and Technology on Sex Trafficking

Globalization and technological advancements affect different aspects of society in a variety of ways. Globalization has eased the cross-border transit of persons (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). It enables traffickers to move the victims from their home countries and into the USA. In the same manner, technological advancements have facilitated sex trafficking largely. Using the internet and social media platforms, the traffickers easily reach their victims. They create websites and social media profiles that promise certain jobs to the unsuspecting people (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). Moreover, technology has changed the way information flows, giving the perpetrators the possibility to distance themselves from the transactions and making it difficult to trace and prosecute them. To that extent, globalization and technological advancements have facilitated sex trafficking.

Who Are the Victims?

Sex trafficking affects a wide spectrum of victims of all occupations. They range from men to women and children. Generally, the victims of sex trafficking include all those individuals compelled to performs acts of commercial sex through force, coercion and fraud (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015). Women and underage persons account for the highest portion of these victims. In the USA, women of color and children have high probabilities of ending up as victims of sex trafficking. A report by the US Department of Justice estimates that approximately 30,000 children are at risk of being recruited into sex trafficking (Amber, 2010). A report from the USA National Hotline indicates that 83.9% of reports of sex trafficking received involved female victims (Bocinski, 2017). The report also demonstrates the disproportional representation of black women who only constitute 7.2% of the USA population but account for 40% of the victims reported between 2008 and 2010 (Bocinski, 2017). In addition, there are disproportionate representations of women of Asian origin in the commercial sex trade in the USA. While there are no defining characteristics of the victims, the perpetrators often target the poor and vulnerable individuals in the society.

How Are Victims Recruited?

Sex offenders apply various methods in recruiting their victims. One of these tools used is posing as genuine employment recruiters and then transporting the unsuspecting victims to the USA where the perpetrators then turn them to sex slaves (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). Additionally, sex traffickers kidnap the victims, particularly the young ones, and force them into the industry (Amber, 2010). In many instances, the perpetrators present themselves as trustworthy and indispensable to the victims and later turn to use methods such as physical abuse and fear to gain control of them. Mail-order brides is another way of recruiting sex trafficking victims (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). According to McCabe and Manian (2010, a), the number of victims who come in as potential brides each year lies between 4000 and 6000. Unfortunately, the promise of matchmaking given to them by the agents is not what they receive when they arrive in the USA. Moreover, spousal prostitution in which husbands receive money in exchange for their wives directly relates to sex trafficking (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). The existence of these methods, therefore, points to the pervasiveness of sex trafficking in the USA.

Race and Social Class Variables

Even though anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking, race and social class are some of the variables used by the perpetrators to determine their victims. While the link between sex trafficking and racial backgrounds is not clear, the disproportionate representation of some racial groups in victims points to a relationship. A report by the Office of Victims of the crime indicated that African Americans accounted for 40% while white Caucasian victims constituted approximately 25% of all the victims of crime (Lillie, 2014). The percentage points to a disproportionate representation of African Americans who only compose approximately 13% of the American population compared to Caucasians who make up 75% of the entire American population (Lillie, 2014). Similarly, 55% of the underage victims of prostitution were blacks (Lillie, 2014). The disparities between racial representation in the victims of sex trafficking are also connected to economics and social class. The offenders often target the underprivileged and susceptible individuals in society. An area such as Oakland that has been hit by poverty, which destabilizes families, makes girls vulnerable to sex trafficking (Amber, 2010). Thus, the town has gained the reputation of a provider of young commercial sex workers. Individuals with economic vulnerabilities, lack of educational qualification and work opportunities are at heightened risks of falling victims of sex trafficking. As a result, race and social class are pertinent factors because they increase one’s defenselessness.

Who Are the Perpetrators?

Like the victims, the perpetrators of sex trafficking also come from diverse backgrounds. Men account for the majority of the offenders with their percentage standing at approximately 75% while that of women is around 24% (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2017). Often, they pose as trustworthy people like employment recruiters and matchmakers among other. Creating such a perception eliminates the chances that the victims will suspect any foul play. In other instances, they are strangers who kidnap the victims and force them into commercial sex. These offenders work in isolation or as groups. The small groups consist of one to five people while large international organizations comprise of more than 50 people (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). These groups have structure and at times involve public and private members. The public actors provide documentation for the victims while the private ones facilitate the clients’ access to the victims (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). The perpetrators are diverse and briefly, involve individuals who use unscrupulous means to get their victims to engage in commercial sex-related activities.

Reasons Perpetrators Give

There are various reasons why offenders get into sex trade. One of them is the high demand for commercial sex workers that provides a ready market for the offenders. Moreover, it is easy for the traffickers to lure their victims. At other times, they use crude methods such as physical abuse, threats, and psychological torture or even drugs to force the victims into sex trafficking activities (Amber, 2010). Additionally, technology has facilitated the emergence of new entrepreneurship in which the offenders produce pornography films and distribute them through the internet (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). Even though distributing such material is illegal, there is inadequate monitoring by the law enforcers as well as internet providers. Consequently, the offenders continue to distribute the films undetected.

Sex trafficking is a profitable enterprise for the criminals. Human trafficking is considered one of the most profitable businesses in organized crime. On average, the pimps who trade young girls in Oakland get half a million tax-free USA dollars each year if they trade three girls (Amber, 2010). They take almost all if not all the money from the victims, leaving them dependent on the offenders and reducing their chances of escaping. In the USA, sex trafficking and related activities are estimated to generate approximately 12 billion USA dollars per year (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). The huge proceeds the traffickers make coupled with the fact that the presence of technology makes it difficult for investigators to link them to the crime, fuels the their motives in sex trafficking.

Racial/Ethnic and Social Class Variable

Even though traffickers come from diverse backgrounds, race and social class are relevant variables. A study conducted to profile sex traffickers arrested between 2010 and 2015 involving 1416 perpetrators revealed insightful information on the characteristics of the offenders. Out of the cases that identified their race, African Americans were disproportionately represented (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2017). They accounted for approximately 71% of the perpetrators while their Caucasian counterparts represented around 20% and those of Hispanic origin stood at 3.7% (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2017). The offenders come from various backgrounds and include the wealthy, middle class and lower class individuals. A profile of 88 traffickers arrested indicated that they posed as people in legitimate business such as small business owners, taxi and truck drivers (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2017). Another category posed as rap artists. At the same time, there are those in public sectors as law enforcers and military (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2017). Some of the offenders are public figures. Therefore, even though the evidence points to the fact that race is an important variable, there is no proof that social class is important.

Effects of Sex Trafficking on the Targets

Sex trafficking has devastating influences on the victims. They include physical harm that the victims suffer in the hands of the offenders. An interview with one of the underage victims of sex trafficking in Oakland illuminates some of the brutal methods they use such as gang rape, starvation, and physical abuse. Additionally, the victims face violence from some of the clients (Hernandez, 2014). Another form is physiological impact during and after the sex trafficking ordeal. The negative psychological outcomes stem from the fact that the victims are coerced to participate in sexual activities against their will. For the perpetrators to get them to engage in these activities, they employ methods such as exposure to violence, maltreatment, threats of death, coercion as well as isolation (Hemmert, 2018). In one of the studies conducted, 80% of the victims were diagnosed with Post Stress Disorder (Hemmert, 2018). Other psychological issues resulting from sex trafficking include trust and anger issues. In the end, these conditions culminate in the victims suffering from a wide range of conditions such as anxiety and stress.

Sex trafficking disrupts the relationships between victims and their families. The reason for this is that it removes them from their friends and families, eliminating any possibility of them establishing healthy relationships (Hemmert, 2018). Moreover, the activities endanger the lives of the victims as commercial sex trade exposes them to the chances of contracting STDs and HIV since they interact with multiple sex partners and have other health-harming experiences such as forced abortions (Hemmert, 2018). Sex trafficking also has negative economic impacts on the victims. It impedes the ability of the survivors to secure and maintain stable employment opportunities (Bocinski, 2017) because many of them lack either the legal skills needed in the job market or academic qualification. Besides, many immigrants experience language barriers that prevent them from working in the USA. Furthermore, victimization of the survivors makes it difficult for them to rebuild their lives. The impacts of sex trafficking are therefore numerous and devastating.

Government Response and the Impacts of Racial/Ethnic and Social Class on the Response

Given the prevalence of the problem and its terrible influence, there have been efforts from various actors including the government to curb this menace. Over the years, the USA authorities have enforced different measures to eradicate human trafficking. The government enacted mechanisms that promote the recognition of the issue of sex trafficking not only as a humanitarian crisis but also as a national security issue. Through the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the authorities established an Office to the observer and fought human trafficking (McCabe, & Manian, 2010, b). In 2003, the act was amended to Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act that delegated the duty of combating human trafficking to federal agents (McCabe & Manian, 2010, a). In 2002, the President signed an order to establish an interagency Task Force that involves actors from various departments such as labor and the CIA (McCabe & Manian, 2010, b). Since the implementation of these efforts, the caseload of sex trafficking offenses has increased and so has the number of recurs in survivors. Nonetheless, there are racial/ethnical and social class variables that affect the success of these methods. One of the dominant issues is the high demand for exotic commercial sex workers coupled with the seeming availability of women ready to be used for money. Poverty and economic vulnerabilities add to the complexity of solving this problem since it makes potential victims easy prey. Though the government puts efforts to address sex trafficing, such issues reduce the effectiveness of these measures.

Law Enforcer’s Response and the Impacts of Racial/Ethnic and Social Class on the Response

The law enforcers have been of the forefront in fighting sex trafficking. The approach they assume has its basis on the recognition that the victims are not willing participants. The police officers investigate the cases of sex trafficking at times posing as undercover investigators (Amber, 2010). They set the traps to catch the pimps and gather evidence to prosecute them in courts. Like in the Oakland case, the law enforcers put measures to rescue the girls from the streets and help them rebuild their lives (Amber, 2010). However, as in government efforts, race and social class variables impede the success of their actions. In many instances, the victims from poor backgrounds are not willing to reveal identities of the perpetrators because they come from the same region or because of fear (Amber, 2010). It is also difficult for the victims to secure decent employment, which pushes them back to the trade. To that extent, racial and social factors impede the success of the noble efforts put by law enforcers.

Unanswered Questions

Looking at the problem of sex trafficking, some questions remain unanswered. McCabe and Manian (2010) point to the fact that there is limited documentation of sex trafficking in the USA. Given the gravity of the problem, one wonders why the country’s government has not facilitated the collection of adequate data. Additionally, the fact that the production and distribution of pornographic materials continue to persist raises the question as to why the government has not arrested and prosecuted the perpetrators. The reason for this is that there is the availability of technology that can facilitate tracking of their locations. The potential weaknesses of the measures makes the vice persist despite their enforcement.

Response to the Presented Measures

Examining the solutions provided in the literature points to both their strengths and potential improvements. The efforts put in place the various players to arrest and prosecute offenders are effective ways of dealing with the perpetrators. Incarcerating the offender removes from the society, which reduces the chances of them recruiting new victims. However, despite these measure sex trafficking continued to persist. Therefore, there is a need to focus these efforts on the community, potential victims and to the victims. Moreover, the government should impose hefty penalties on the perpetrators to deter such crimes. Although the measure scan be useful to some extent, there is a need to refine them and improve their effectiveness.


Sex trafficking is one of the persistent problems in the USA. It encompasses acts of harboring and transporting individuals for sex-related activities through force, fraud, and threats. The problem is widespread and can affect any person regardless of his or her gender, age, and social class. The perpetrators of sex trafficking offenses come from diverse backgrounds. Racial variable plays a role in sex trafficking as there is a disproportionate representation of some groups of people as victims and offenders. However, though social class is a variable in victim profiles, it is not important in perpetrator characteristics. Regardless of the measures put in place by both the government and law enforcers, there is a need to reevaluate them to improve their effectiveness.

Copy-pasting equals plagiarizing!

Mind that anyone can use our samples, which may result in plagiarism. Want to maintain academic integrity? Order a tailored paper from our experts.

Get my custom paper
3 hours
the shortest deadline
original, no AI
300 words
1 page = 300 words
This is a sample essay that should not be submitted as an actual assignment
Need an essay with no plagiarism?
Grab your 15% discount
with code: writers15
Related essays
1 (888) 456 - 4855