Argumentative Essay: One Man’s Dream, Another Woman’s Nightmare

(Photo courtesy of

(Photo courtesy of

Sophia Shelley, Student Contributor

Actress and long time victim advocate, Jada Pinkett Smith states, “People who are having sex with children are not johns and tricks. They are child rapists and pedophiles, so we should call them what they are”. According to a news video by Zora Stephenson, a convicted man in the state of Colorado was sentenced to 472 years in prison- the longest sentence for human trafficking in the United States. In the world today, about $150 billion is profited illegally by the buyers and two thirds of that money is produced by sexual exploitation. The other one third is related to human trafficking and forced labor. Allowing sex trafficking to continue will also allow innocent members of society to be mentally and physically abused, allow families to be ripped away from their loved ones, allow a whole economic circle to continue, and finally allow minors to be summoned for getting “chosen” to be rapped over and over again. Sex trafficking needs to be stopped because the impacts are too great.

How the family is affected?

Most importantly, sex trafficking affects family and loved ones. Some people say that it is not due to family members selling the victim off to the john as shown here, “Still others are sold into trafficking by boyfriends, friends, neighbors or even parents”; however, no matter who sold off the victim, the remaining family members are emotionally affected. According to Freida M’Cormack, the author of the Governance, Social Development, Conflict, and Humanitarian Issues (GSDRC) says, “Trafficking undermines extended family ties, and in many cases, the forced absence of women leads to the breakdown of families and neglect of children and the aged” (Danailova-Trainor and Laczko 2010). This is showing that when females or anyone is taken from the family setting, the whole family dynamic is altered. People often think that just the victim is affected but this research shows that the whole family is being affected. It may result in the children getting abused or hurt because the adults just do not know how to deal with their sorrow. Human Trafficking Search states “Individuals specifically trafficked for sex have described facing stigma and other negative responses during and after their trafficking experience, especially from friends and family members”. The family and affected loved ones do not know how to cope with their emotions. In addition, they may neglect the victim when they finally return, not knowing that are actually doing this. People may think that this is the family neglecting the victim when, in reality, it is just them getting angry about their kid being taken away and raped constantly. They are mad in their head because they, as parents, let their child get taken, allowing this horrific situation. People in the community may see it as another poor situation, when it is just the family coming to the realization of finally getting their loved one back home. The family breakdown is also a very important consequence that many people do not realize. According to Freida M’Cormack, the author of the GSDRC research, “Trafficking is linked to a variety of factors…  the dissolution of family”. The word dissolution in this sentence is very important. It means the breaking down of a group, so basically the family starts to breakdown due to members being trafficked. When a victim or loved one is taken for trafficking purposes, it leads to the breakdown of the family bond.

The Victim

Equally important, victims experience devastation of their physical and mental health. They are being forced into many different situations and are lured by the buyer. A victim can be any age, gender or race, and can be getting taken by many manipulations. Every minute, every hour, every day, the victims are being used in every way that is abhorrent. Shown in the picture to the left, the victim is handcuffed to the bed with blood dripping with the next john coming in for his session. This starkly shows how the victim is abused and taken advantage of. For example,

Victims of sex trafficking are often young girls who have run away from abusive situations at home and are quickly picked up by traffickers who coerce them into prostitution by promising food, shelter or clothing. Other recruiting methods include befriending vulnerable-looking girls at malls, movie theaters and even schools. The recruiter could be a young man posing as a doting boyfriend or another girl who appears to be friendly (Dawn McBane).

This is an explanation of one way that a situation can unfold. It starts when a vulnerable person gets approached by a buyer and next thing they know, the buyer is taking the them to a house. Little does the victim know, their life is about to unravel very quickly and they are going to regret everything they had said previously to this buyer. Another thing that is very important is what is happening to the victims: physical problems. According to Leah Kaylor, an intern from John Jay College of Criminal Justice,

“Victims can also experience gynecologic health problems that stem from forced commercial sex acts. They might suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, menstrual pain and irregularities, miscarriages, and forced abortions, among other problems”.

Besides the physical effects, there are many other things that happen to the victims,

According to the FBI, traffickers use force, drugs, emotional tactics, and financial methods to control their victims. Often, recruiters may find ways to form a strong bond with young girls – for instance, they may promise marriage or a lifestyle the girls have not had in their families of origin. They claim they “love” and “need” the victim and that any sex acts are for their future together. In cases where the children have few or no positive male role models in their lives, the traffickers take advantage of this and, in many cases, demand that the victims refer to them as “daddy” – further ensnaring them in their web of deceit (Dawn McBane).

Another effect for the victims is they can suffer from drug abuse and again mental abuse. They are affected by drugs which is bad for the body to be taking in those drugs whenever they are forced. Another thing is that those drugs that they take allow them to pass out and then not even realize or recognize what is happening to their bodies. They become unconscious and can not realize that they are being taken advantage of until they wake up the next morning and are in an extreme amount of pain from the night or day before. The victims are changed through their mindset and start thinking of their buyers as “daddy” since it is now their only male role model in their life. Since it is their only one, it is the one they chose to listen to. Without the victim playing their role, the buyers would not continue to produce money.

Financial issues brought up by illegal trades

Correspondingly, some people might say that sex trafficking is a way to produce money, but that is prostitution. In prostitution, the prostitute is making the money. What the public does not realize is that sex trafficking is not the same and that the victims are not the one’s receiving the money. The main financial beneficiary of sex trafficking is the organization that participates in the actual trafficking. What is becoming more clear is that there is a financial cost on an international and national level. Sex trafficking is like selling drugs; it is illegal and is a source of money. The graph to the right shows how much money is made each year from human trafficking, and out of that pie chart, the gray color is what represents the mass amounts collected by sex trafficking. For example the Human Trafficking Center (HTC), a company that focuses its studies on human trafficking states, “The ILO estimates human trafficking generates $150.2 billion in illegal profits each year. More than one-third of these profits are from forced labour exploitation and the remaining two-thirds from sexual exploitation”. This example shown here is providing information on how much money the Johns in total are generating in the world every year. According to Ellen Wulfhorst, a writer of the reuters site,

Also, most financial institutions have a limited understanding of the financial aspects of human trafficking and their risk of exposure, it said. That is beginning to change, as corruption, bribery and trafficking are increasingly seen as linked, said Archana Kotecha, head of the legal department at Liberty Asia, an anti-slavery charity, and a contributor to the report.

Many companies and institutions are not really aware of what they are agreeing to when being linked to financial aspects of human trafficking. Most companies do not know all the details and are now getting bribes and are being corrupted due to what they are doing with their money. All the ways that these companies are taking in large amounts of money are linked to human trafficking and the national law enforcement groups are getting involved due to exposure. The same source shows, “The United Nations University (UNU) said financial tools were a powerful means to disrupt the flow of money generated from human trafficking, with the illegal industry estimated to be worth about $150 billion a year”. Many countries are also getting into debt due to the massive amounts of money earned by the illegal trafficking rings. So much money is getting spent on sex trafficking and not many people are aware of what is actually going on. About $150 billion is being brought in each year, which is all illegal industry profit that if eliminated, will cause major debt to that region or country. This is another way to look at victimization. While most people do not participate in sex trafficking, at this point in time most people and nations are paying the cost literally of sex trafficking and in that financial way we are all being victimized.

What will the safe harbor law do?

As well as the financial issues, the safe harbor law is a law put in place in a state to protect the minors from getting in trouble with the law for something that they did not give consent to. The successful implementation of this law is very high, “Findings from the study identified benefits related to several safe harbor provisions. The report stated that the creation of task forces was the policy with the strongest overall link to successful state trafficking prosecutions”(Rich Williams). It is not a nationwide law, so each state has to pass it individually, but with each state passing it, it will make it nationwide, and make our country better as a whole. Another finding is that many kids will be open for mostly anything once being guaranteed safe. According to Rich Williams, a state legislator, “Authors speculated that minors may be more likely to cooperate in investigations given safe harbor guarantees”. By minors being told that they are guaranteed to be safe no matter what the outcome is, they are more likely to cooperate with the legal justice system and will open up. If they are told that they are going to be punished, they will most likely not want to talk about what happened and what they were a part of due to fear on what is going to happen in the future. The fear of going to be put in jail is much more severe than opening up and telling the truth. So with this law in place in the states, they are more likely to cooperate and will make the whole process faster. According to The Field Center For Children’s Policy, Practice & Research, “Safe Harbor legislation seeks to offer and engage victims in rehabilitative services in lieu of charging them with a crime”. Victims are in more need of rehab services than getting prosecuted by the law for something they never gave consent to. Minors will receive help instead of having issues with the law. Getting prosecuted will do no good and will serve no purpose for the victim.

The devastation that sex trafficking causes is way too large for it to continue. Like Pinkett said earlier, the pedophiles raping the young kids should be called by the correct name and not by the term john or tricks. They need to start getting criminally charged for what they are doing so it is stopped. If the johns continue to get away with such actions, they will keep on believing that it is okay to rape young members of our society. Without the safe harbor law, many minors will keep on getting prosecuted with crimes that they did not consent to and is forced on them. Many people of society will keep on getting mentally and physically abused and hurt without sex trafficking being put to a halt. The family also is being affected as well as the buyers. A fall in economy will happen to that illegal economic circle, and will hopefully diminish with the law being put in place, and to start prosecuting the “pedophiles or child rapists”. To help prevent sex trafficking, you can get involved with campaigns like “Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People Petition” which asks store customers to sign a petition that protects the victims from getting arrested and prosecuted.

Works Cited

“About the Problem Home • About the Problem.” Human Trafficking Center

“How to Identify the Victims and Perpetrators of Sex Trafficking.” Focus on the Family, 7 Apr. 2014

“Impact • Human Trafficking Search.” Human Trafficking Search

Kaylor, Leah. “Psychological Impact of Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery Worldwide: Empowerment and Intervention.” 2015.

M’Cormack, Freida. “Helpdesk Research Report: The Impact of Human Trafficking on People and Countries.” 8 Dec. 2011.

“Soroptimist | Organization for Women.” Women’s Organization

Wasch, Sarah, et al. “An Analysis of Safe Harbor Laws for Minor Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Implications for Pennsylvania and Other States.” 11 Mar. 2016.

Williams, Rich. “Safe Harbor: State Efforts to Combat Child Trafficking.” Apr. 2017.

Wulfhorst, Ellen. “Financial Sector Not Using Its Full Power to Fight Human Trafficking: Report.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 12 July 2017