Individuals who buy commercial sex acts create the demand for sex trafficking. Many sex buyers may be unaware, ill-informed, or in direct denial of the abusive realities of sex trafficking situations as they exist within the broader sex trade. When sex trafficking is present, victims are often subjected to violence, threats, controlling behaviors, false promises, lies, and manipulation perpetrated by the traffickers/pimps. Popular media, including certain books, movies, television shows, and music, sometimes glamorise and romanticise the commercial sex industry without properly acknowledging the presence of sex trafficking. This glamorisation then fuels the demand for paying someone else to have sex with them.
Additionally, it is common that victims of trafficking will not discuss their situation with customers or ask for help because they are trained by their traffickers to lie and keep up the act. As a result, “johns” may not fully realise the truth behind the facade, or the pain behind the smile. In places and communities where there is a demand to bux sex, sex traffickers directly respond to the demand by seeking to offer a “product” to be sold for profit. To sex traffickers, the “product” they sell are the women and children they control.
Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. UNODC, as guardian of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto, assists States in their efforts to implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Trafficking in Persons Protocol).
Human trafficking victims make an alarmingly high number of consumer goods and food products that are both imported to the United States and produced domestically. More often than we realize, somewhere in the supply chain of the products we buy, elements of exploitative child labour or forced labor may be present. As economies around the world integrate, it has become faster and easier for goods produced with forced labour to enter the global market. In the U.S., labour traffickers exploit and enslave both foreign nationals (some of whom enter the U.S. legally) and U.S. citizens.
In many cases of labour trafficking, consumers provide the demand, and thus the profit incentive, to the traffickers. These consumers can include companies that subcontract certain types of services, end-consumers who buy cheap goods produced by trafficking victims, or individuals who use the services of trafficking victims. By changing purchasing choices and asking questions about how our products were made, consumers have the power to reduce these types of demand and help stop human trafficking.