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Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2001
139 pages
This study examined international and domestic trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in the United States and used interviews with 128 trafficked and prostituted women to follow their paths from the time before they were recruited or trafficked and to determine the consequences in terms of violence, crime, health, and other human costs.
The research focused on the connections between the supply of women trafficked from abroad and within the United States to the demand created by sex industries and the involvement of local sex industries in sex trafficking and prostitution. It also examined the linkages between international and domestic trafficking and sex industries, regional differences in these activities, and the social consequences. Results revealed that sex businesses in each region studied were prolific and diverse. Organized businesses and crime networks were instrumental in recruiting international and United States women. Conditions facilitating recruitment of women included economic desperation and disadvantage, the lack of a sustainable income, and poverty. Trafficking patterns were diverse. Twenty percent of the international and 28 percent of the United States women had intimate relationships with the men who pimped them. Methods used to control women in the sex industry included denying freedom of movement, isolation, controlling money, threats and intimidation, drug and alcohol addictions, threatened exposure of pornographic films, and physical and sexual violence. The women suffered severe health consequences from injuries caused by violence and from diseases contracted while in the sex industry. Women found many ways to cope, resist, and survive the exploitation and violence. Findings indicate the need for prevention, victim protection, and prosecution of traffickers. Recommended actions include establishing a human rights definition of trafficking, raising public awareness, establishing strict penalties and consistent law enforcement, using coordinated and collaborative efforts, and providing culturally appropriate legal strategies and social services. Figures, tables, and approximately 300 references

Date Published: March 1, 2001