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The numbers of sex trafficking victims are exaggerated

traffickingFigures relating to sex work and trafficking have been fudged by mainstream media, conservative feminists and career politicians. The numbers of people who are victims of sex slavery and trafficking are far lower than what is generally reported, writes Elena Jeffreys.

A startling report by investigative journalist Nick Davies for The Guardian last October, Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution, has shocked English policy makers and created a new war of words over migration, sex work and exploitation. Numerous opinion pieces, first hand accounts and rampant moralising followed The Guardian’s coverage of the issue between October and November last year, but Davies’ articles remains an important contribution to understanding the figure-fudging in relation to sex work and trafficking.

Davies writes that politicians and the media have been exaggerating the numbers of sex workers who are victims of sex slavery and trafficking. He goes on to compare the exaggerated numbers of trafficked sex workers with other government lies including weapons of mass destruction, and the sexed up policy dossiers that rationalised UK’s hawkish actions in relation to Iraq.

Trafficking_JanelleThe exaggeration of numbers of trafficked sex workers and sex slaves has been going on for over a decade. Much of this stems from a general misunderstanding about the differences between sex work per se, sex slavery and trafficking…a misunderstanding amplified by the fact that in many countries, ALL of these activities are crimes, and ALL are under the gaze of a migration-sensitive and politically astute police force, media and government trying to jockey for brownie points among a difficult public landscape of financial crisis and celebrity sensationalism. Career politicians, conservative feminists and desperate journalists have exploited the public’s penchant for stories about sex and the ethnic ‘other’ to replicated the lie that all migrant sex workers are trafficked sex slaves.

To make matters worse, government and non-government organisations with a vested interest in bumping up trafficking numbers have been on a spree of deceit in order to justify their own funding. Davies proves that UK prosecutions to do with sex work, migration and/or drug use were chalked up as trafficking-related to make it appear that the cops were doing something about a perceived problem that didn’t actually exist. Police busted brothels, charging those on the premises for sex work, drug use and migration related offences, and then deliberately lied in documentation to Government that such operations were associated with trafficking, when actually nothing of the kind had occurred.

Pornpit Puckmai from Empower Foundation in Thailand shares a similar story of policing activity against sex workers in the name of non-existent trafficking crimes. She refers to the two recent raids in Phuket which involved a team especially formed for the raids which included armed soldiers and a (Thai) Channel 7 news crew. Fifty six sex workers and one minor were arrested for sex work, with condoms used as evidence against them. Twenty seven of the sex workers were migrants without the correct visa who were detained awaiting sentencing and possible deportation to Burma.

Puckmai proposes that such violent persecution and high-profile raids on sex workers:

 may be the authorities and politicians way of declaring ‘See I have these problems in my area all sorted and under control’ or may be to take the public’s mind off other issues, to answer the USA or their own superiors, to fit in with the propaganda against migrants, or to promote the anti-trafficking law, or the drug laws, or to get a good (USA) Trafficking In Persons Report. It seems that we sex workers are the most popular group to become scapegoats for any department wanting to show their good works on any issue.

The US Administration has become the target for sex workers across the world angry at systemic fabrication of trafficking and sex slavery figures. Inaccurate reporting of figures has been going on for so long now the US Department of State is addicted to it. Their annual Trafficking In Persons Report is treated by developing countries as a report card for compliance to the US preferred approach to the criminalisation of sex work; while the rhetoric is about trafficking, in practise it means policing sex workers.

The new Obama regime seems slightly embarrassed by it all. Look closely at footage of Hilary Clinton standing in the background while the State Department minions spit out bloated quotes about trafficking in Iran. She cringes at the badly hidden political motives being fuelled by anti-sex work sentiment. And in her recent comments about the President Obama's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons she is at pains to make explicit that the trafficking they are dealing with is “both trafficking for sex trade purposes and trafficking for forced labor.” Sex trafficking doesn’t rate a mention for the rest of her speech – instead forced labour for sweatshops is the only issue singled out.

Clinton, like every other centrist politician on the planet, is wracked with the political nightmare of a reasonable and important issue (migrant labour abuses) being hijacked by crazed extremist crusaders (anti-sex work populists taking advantage of anti-migrant xenophobia). A focus on migrant sex work above all other migrant labour and the accompanying necessary fabricated evidence means that stopping migrant labour abuses has become a fight for political territory, not an industrial relations struggle. If the UK or the US Governments want to address real issues affecting real workers, they have to shake anti-sex work campaigners out of the anti-trafficking woodwork. As Puckmai concludes: “Is anyone serious about improving the situation or do we want to keep up this wonderful tradition of going through the raid and arrest ceremony?”

Elena Jeffreys is the president of Australian national sex worker association Scarlet Alliance.

Image (centre): Bangkok: Sex workers protest the opening ceremony of the XI International AIDS Conference in 2004. Photo courtesy of Janelle Fawkes.


0 #5 Chris Lewis 2011-03-13 14:07
According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM??????????? ?

Well, as I predicted it was all a big lie told by various anti-prostituti on groups and the Dallas Women’s Foundation which is a anti-prostituti on group that lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries. As proved in the link below:

Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.
“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”

This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

Brian McCarthy isn't happy. He's a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he's forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.

I do not like the idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, no matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostituti on groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These "non profit" group's employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostituti on groups word for it. You will be very surprised.
Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.

These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.

This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.

I would like to see a news organization do a full investigative report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.
Sex Trafficking in Sports Events links:
0 #4 Ralph Johnstone 2010-08-30 08:44
50,000,000 women a year are supposedly forced into sex slavery. I had read that far and thought to myself that was an impossible figure that would mean that by now. Every female would be a sex slave, including infants now that would be downright disgusting so therefore those figures have to be nothing more than total fiction I also find it totally disgusting the way the news media turns a speck of sand into a mountain or maybe it's actually just a speck of dust.
0 #3 Jeff Lewis 2010-07-16 19:32
The numbers of sex trafficking sex slaves:
There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.

“If media reports on sex trafficking in Nepal are to be believed, there would be no young girls left in Nepal at this time”

It is not easy for criminals to engage in this acitvity:
Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years.
While there are some women who may be true victims. And it is possible for this to happen in rare situations. This is a small rare group of people and that the numbers and scale of this crime is exaggerated. The very nature of someone pulling off a kidnapping and forced sex for profit appears to be very difficult. Since it would be difficult this makes this crime rare. Not impossible, but extremely rare.

A key point is that on the sidelines the prostitutes themselves are not being listened to. They oppose laws against prostitution. But no one wants to listen to the prostitutes themselves. Only to the self appointed experts that make up numbers and stories many of which have never met a real forced sex slave or if they did it was only a few. The media and government never ask the prostitutes themselves what would help them in terms of laws.
0 #2 Jeff Lewis 2010-07-16 19:29
Sex Trafficking/Sla very is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims.

This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists, politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims. They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing. These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these "helpless foreign women wives".

These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.

This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.

The following links will give you more information about this especially the Washington post article and the Guardian and BBC links.

Washington post article:

News night BBC video:

Guardian newspaper:
+1 #1 Jeff Lewis 2010-07-16 19:29

The following links will give you more information about sex trafficking especially the Washington post article and the Guardian and BBC links.

Washington post article:

News night BBC video:

Guardian newspaper:

Human traffic website:

India newspaper:§ionId=9&valid=true#

Other sources:

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