Reduce Sex Trafficking in 25 U.S. cities
For two decades, anti-trafficking efforts in the United States have sought to identify and support victims, and bring traffickers to justice. These approaches are critical in the lives of individual survivors, but will never fundamentally decrease the volume of sex trafficking in the United States.
To accomplish that more sweeping goal we have to fundamentally shift accountability for trafficking away from victims and to buyers and traffickers, and we have to fix the broken systems that fail to meet the needs of so many people, leaving them vulnerable to trafficking.
If we want to end sex trafficking we have to make sure that people have the things they need – money, love, safety, hope – so they do not have missing pieces in their lives. It’s a long game. But it’s the only one. Because if there is a missing piece in a person’s life a trafficker will promise to fill it.
Since 2007, the Polaris-operated National Human Trafficking Hotline has identified 45,018 situations of sex trafficking. Those are the situations we actually learn about. How much more is really out there is unknown. But we know it is too much. Through the Trafficking Hotline, Polaris provides the victims in those situations with help and support, but for most, the trauma is deep and the healing difficult. A far better outcome would be to prevent the trafficking situation from happening in the first place.
U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline Identified
The Plan to Reduce Sex Trafficking
Reduce vulnerabilities that traffickers use to exploit victims in specific communities.
End the criminalization of victims and instead holding sex buyers and traffickers accountable.
Improve systems that routinely fail potential trafficking victims.
Change social norms to reject sex buying as harmful and violent.
Sex trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to trade sexual services for money or something of value such as shelter. Common sex trafficking business models include escort services, pornography, remote online sexual acts, illicit massage businesses, brothels, and outdoor solicitation.
We will reduce sex trafficking in 25 U.S. cities by leveraging our significant relationships, networks, and knowledge base in this space to build upon existing momentum and propel the work forward. We envision the following impact:
Expand the societal safety net available to vulnerable populations and trafficking victims to reduce their risk of being trafficked and increase avenues for exit.
Shift legal accountability for trafficking to sex buyers and traffickers, and away from victims and potential victims.
Change norms around sex buying to influence sex buyer behavior, support the shift in criminal accountability to sex buyers, and remove victim stigmatization.
Youth and young adults experiencing homelessness often remain invisible as they live on the streets. Homeless young people have already been failed by numerous systems – and people – who were supposed to help keep them safe. They are in survival mode, lacking the basic necessities of life – a safe place to live, regular sources of food. That’s when traffickers swoop in.
We are working toward a world where ultimately, sex buying and trafficking will be riskier endeavors, and populations at-risk for or experiencing trafficking will receive the support and services they need to break complex cycles of poverty, abuse, and exploitation that keep them vulnerable.