As a part of the series of videos that Transitions has done on sex trafficking and the work we are doing with survivors, we wanted to create a forum for dialog about some of these key issues. We would like to invite you to post comments, questions, and information that would help us all in the fight to abolish child sex trafficking.
The first question we posted was "What is Sex Trafficking?" A very basic question, but one that we felt should be first. So much gets lost in much of our conversation about this issue. Sexual slavery was the first term that was used for what happens to girls who are sexually exploited globally. In the early 2000's, the term was changed from 'slavery' to 'trafficking', via the US State Department and other large organizations looking for a more technical term to give better understanding of human slavery.
The change of terminology also came as a result of not wanting to denigrate the slavery endured by African men, women, and children during the 18th and 19th Century in Europe and the United States by using such a strong word. Certainly, in many situations, modern day slavery does not look the same as chattel slavery, but there are other aspects to consider. First, the price of slaves has steeply dropped. In the 1860, the cost of a slave was just over $1,600. In today's currency, this would be tens of thousands of dollars. Slaves were kept for years and often generations. Yet, today's slavery looks differently.
Today, people are bought for less than $100, which is less than much of the world pays for their cellphones. Girls are purchased in Cambodia for $300-500, but will be sold over and over again to customers for commercial sex at $5-50 a time (more for the virgin trade). Girls, women, and boys are not kept long, as sexual exploitation takes a harsh toll on victims' physical appearance and their longevity in the trade.
There are other aspects, which will be addressed in future videos, but we want to hear from you? Is sex trafficking slavery? What is your definition?