The Global Sex Trafficking Crisis, How the U.S. Stacks Up

Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.
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Vietnamese sex workers wait for clients in Cambodia. Human trafficking extends to the U.S. (Photo: Chor Sokunthea/Reuters)

For the first time, the U.S. is among the destination countries listed in the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report is an annual review of global efforts to fight human and sex trafficking. While the U.S. isn't among the nations that are listed as the worst offenders, the State Department recognizes that the U.S. has "a serious problem with human trafficking for both labor and commercial sexual exploitation."

Thirteen countries stack up as the worst, and are, according to the Associated Press, at risk of U.S. penalty. Among the offenders are North Korea, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Of 175 countries on the list, 58—including Russia, India and Lebanon—are on the "watch list."

The U.S. is listed among countries doing their best to comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a U.S. law.

Dan Rather recently reported in the Huffington Post that the child sex business in the U.S., "is booming. One of the worst areas for it runs roughly from Seattle to Portland, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Las Vegas. But no place in the country is immune."

Rather was shocked to learn of "Eighty-year-old men paying a premium to violate teenage girls, sometimes supplied by former drug gangs now into child sex trafficking."

Reported by Voices of America, Tim Whittman at the FBI states that 20 percent of the U.S. sex trafficking cases involve victims from Mexico. A common threat given to them is: "If you leave, I'm going to report you to immigration and you'll be arrested. You'll be kept in prison for a long time."

Ohio is another hub for sex trafficking. About 1,000 American-born children are forced into the sex trade annually, and about 800 immigrants are sexually exploited.

Regardless of the rank or location, human trafficking is a serious global problem. In 2009, 12.3 million humans were victims of trafficking. There were only 4,166 successful trafficking prosecutions and 335 successful prosecutions related to forced labor.


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