Sex Trafficking in California is one form of Human Trafficking. Definition of human trafficking is exploiting human beings by force, fraud, or coercion for following acts.
- Commercial sex (Sex trafficking)
- Forced labor
Sex trafficking involves men, women, and children. The age of the victims can be over 18 or under 18. The sex trafficking industry is growing throughout the world. Among top profitable criminal enterprises, it comes after the trafficking of illegal weapons and illegal drugs.
In the United States of America, sex trafficking includes three parts
- The process
- The mean
- The goal
According to the U.S. Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act, sex trafficking includes the following elements.
- Obtaining individuals who, under force, fraud, or coercion, is forced to perform commercial sex.
Please note that transportation, traveling, or movement across borders is not mandatory for sex trafficking. Sexual exploitation through fraud, force, or coercion is an essential element in the definition.
Sex trafficking is also growing at the same pace in the United States of America. Within the United States, the Sex trafficking industry is also flourishing in California, and Los Angles are no exception.
California Department of Justice defines sex trafficking as a crime in which the victim is asked for commercial sex, labor, or services by coercion. Term Coercion can be in the form of violence, threats, lies, bonded debts, and labor. This is true for adults. In the case of minors, the sexual act is sex trafficking without coercion.
California is more vulnerable to Sex Trafficking because of the following reasons.
- Habitat of large runaway population
- Homeless youth population
- Proximity to international borders
- Significant immigrant population
- Number of ports and airports
- Good economy including industries that attract forced labor and sex trafficking
People involved in the sex trafficking business bait the victims with false promises. Sex traffickers usually offer false employment promises to the victims having a poor economy. They provide labor in the construction industry or the agriculture industry to men/boys. The victims are not given any job but forced to perform commercial sex. Women and girls are offered modeling, dancing, or waitress positions but are abused later on and sold to the sex industry.
Some traffickers work as travel agents in other countries. They trap girls and women for false promises of a job but sell them to the sex industry on their arrival. These traffickers usually control the victims. They promise to free them after paying debts. They say that there is the cost of their recruitment, traveling, and stay. So, sex trafficking can be associated with bonded debt and labor. Sex traffickers usually force victims to bring more victims to them.
Sex traffickers take the trafficked men, women, and children to various points for commercial sex. Most commonly, they ask victims to work in the following places.
- Escort services
- Strip clubs
- Truck stops
- Massage parlors
The victims are also forced into street prostitution and work in porn films.
Sex trafficking is usually not limited to one person. The following abusers carry it out.
- Family members
Trafficking and Internet
The Internet is responsible for boosting businesses throughout the world. One of the reasons for the increase in demand and supply is the internet. Now sex traffickers and customers interact directly and complete the transaction with the help of the internet. Traffickers can get help for their business by using the internet through the following elements.
- Social media
- Dating sites
- Online advertisement
Traffickers work online with fake names and identities and hide the age of victims. Traffickers send friendship requests to children and girls on Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. When friendship requests are accepted by their potential and the expected victim, then grooming starts.
Child sex trafficking in California
California is not only the hub of sex trafficking of adults but also children. Definition of Child sex trafficking is the exploitation of minors which means children below 18 as the victim. Underage girls and boys can become prey for traffickers quickly, especially those who ran away from home due to financial problems. Being homeless is another reason for becoming a victim of traffickers. The victims are usually offered money, gifts, food, residence, or drugs. Sex traffickers also recruit underage victims by coercion.
Adolescents living in the foster care system can also become easy prey for sex traffickers. Children living in such living systems are easily trapped because they have no home and emotional feelings for family. Those children are easily victimized who have been already abused by someone in the past. After hunting adolescents, flickers don’t free them even the victim wants to leave. Traffickers beat and traumatized them. They also threaten to harm the families of victims. These adolescent children become psychologically disturbed and even think that trafficker is their protector.
It is often seen that sex traffickers try to give different drugs to adolescents after recruiting. These drugs can be heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc. use of these drugs causes addiction in victims. The use of adolescents in commercial sex becomes easy to handle by these sex traffickers. The victims continue to obey traffickers to complete the requirements of the drug.
On the other hand, adolescents fall into sex trafficking if they are already drug-addicted. These victims remain ready every time for the orders of traffickers to get money for drugs. Some expert pimps sometimes spend time in drug addiction clinics to hunt their prey. They offer money to buy drugs to this addicted girl or boy.
Sex traffickers also use social media for child sex trafficking. Sex traffickers target chat groups, gaming websites, and social media. The traffickers disguise themselves as a teen and send sexual material as bait to adolescents.
You can prevent your teen from these sex traffickers by telling about the use and misuse of social media and the internet. You should monitor the social media activities of your teens. Ask your teen to take the following steps.
- Make private profile
- Never share photos or personal details with unknown persons or even teens
- You can also block specific sites on your child phone
U.S. Department of State recommends rescue 911 or calling the National Human Trafficking hotline to rescue your teen. It is not advisable to attempt to save your teen by yourself. You can take these steps even if your teen is reluctant to cooperate with you. The non-cooperative attitude of your teen can be due to the following reasons.
- The adolescent may be too fearful
- Teen is unable to understand their situation
- Threats from the abuser for physical damage or damage to family
- Under the influence of psychological influence of the trafficker
- Your teen may be drug-addicted
Following are some signs that your teen may be involved in sex trafficking.
- Changes in personality (More than usual tired and stressed)
- Changes in body shape or appearance ( look usually dirty)
- Strange new tattoo (Some traffickers use Brand tattoo)
- Unusual absence from school
- Start living or spending more time outside the home
- Mental health issues (depression and anxiety)
- Company of men much older than your teen
- Acting out sexually
- They started to use drugs/alcohol
- Unexplained cash/hotel cards
Legal compensation for victims of Sex Trafficking
Victims of sex trafficking are compensated in civil cases for the following elements.
- Physical and emotional pain
- Suffering they endure
- Income loss
Victims/survivors of sex trafficking insult generally claim punitive damages to punish the abuser for their bad conduct.
Stages of sex crime prosecution
Individuals or organizations involved in sex trafficking first face criminal court due to following reasons.
- To stop the illegal conduct
- To punish the trafficker
- To stop sex trafficking by other organizations
- The standard of proof is more potent in a criminal case than in a civil case. In a criminal case
Following are stages of criminal prosecution.
The procedure starts when the Law Enforcement department receives a complaint about an alleged sexual offense by a victim or family member of a victim. After receiving the complaint, the investigation is started. The hiring of a sex trafficking attorney at this stage can be beneficial.
Police can arrest you after completing the investigation and finding the clues that you have committed the alleged offense. After the arrest, police will make a report and send it to the city or district attorney.
Arraignment is the first court hearing. At this stage, Judge will inform you about the following legal steps.
- Information about criminal charges
- The Judge will allow entering a plea of guilty or not guilty to those charges
At this stage the judge also considers releasing you with or without bail. But this decision depends upon the severity of the charges and criminal history. You can file bail with the help of your attorney.
Preliminary hearing and trial
Your case further proceeds after you submit no guilty plea. Your attorney can handle all the legal matters at this stage. You also have the opportunity to plea bargain. If this attempt fails, then the case will enter the trial phase.
Sex trafficking is a crime in all countries of the world. It would be best to protect yourself, your family members, and relatives by getting awareness about this illegal act. If you are your teen is the victim of sex trafficking, then don’t hesitate to call National Human Trafficking Hotline Number.