Ira Gelb

U.S. News


Sex Trafficking in the United States and why it Exists

Upon hearing the term ‘sex trafficking’ the United States of America does not come to mind but it should. In the United States, the sex trafficking industry is worth about $3 billion annually. It seems that the country has been so concerned with this issue in other countries that this wouldn’t be overlooked here. But it is overlooked. Why is sex trafficking so prominent in the US? And how and why is it growing?

Half of all sex trafficking victims are children, with the average age being 12-14 years old. For the typical child victim, the average life expectancy after being captured is only 7 years. Roughly 100,000-300,000 US teens are at-risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking each year, with 1 in 5 victims being a male.

A big reason, in part, that sex trafficking is so prominent in the US is that people don’t realize it is an issue. Further, our current penalties communicate to perpetrators that we have little concern for the issue. In 2013, Angel Campos Tellez trafficked over 100 girls on the East Coast from 2009-2012, for which he was sentenced to a mere 3.5 year sentence.

Similar sentences (3 years) went to Freddy Soriano in 2013 and the three-man team of Najarro-Rodriguez, Perez-Hernandez, and Mata in 2013. A three year sentence seems to be a very small risk when compared to $3 billion and many traffickers continue to take this risk.

But it isn’t just the traffickers who are at fault; it is also the citizens of this country. Traffickers can’t produce a demand, just a supply. The Internet is the third highest method of securing a prostitute (2007-2012) and 1 in 20 US men have paid for sex online. If they keep buying, the traffickers will keep selling. The public needs to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

So please, become more aware of this issue and help others to become aware as well. This needs to end now and we can’t do anything about it if no one is willing to. Just one share on Facebook or Twitter will reach hundreds to thousands of people. Can one share make a difference? There is a story about a man walking on the beach littered with star fish. As he throws a few star fish into the ocean, someone told him that what he was doing wouldn’t make a difference. As the man picks up a star fish and throws it into the water, he says, “I made a difference to that one.”

Your efforts in sharing these facts may not make an impact on sex trafficking, but if you can save one victim, you made a difference to someone and potentially save his or her life.