There are an estimated 403,000 people living in modern slavery in the United States (GSI 2018). Sex trafficking exists throughout the country. Traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary, many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces them into prostitution. Others are lured with false promises of a job, and some are forced to sell sex by members of their own families. Victims of sex trafficking include both foreign nationals and US citizens, with women making up the majority of those trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, the most reported venues/industries for sex trafficking included commercial-front brothels, hotel/motel-based trafficking, online advertisements with unknown locations, residential brothels, and street-based sex trafficking.
Jane was trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation in the state of Nebraska. She talks about not being believed by friends and family, and how women who have been trafficked are often punished to a greater extent than men exploiting them.
No, I’m actually just finding out how bad it is out here, you know, in these small areas. I always thought it was in the big towns, in the cities, and stuff, and I’m just really finding out how bad it is here too
That’s the problem, because nobody is really believing that it’s happening…Nobody believe, even when your parents don’t believe you, so you don’t trust nobody else to believe you….Because you’re taught, what happens in the house stays in the house. You know, you don’t say nothing, but deep down inside, you know it’s not right. But a lot of people are brought up like that, you don’t talk, you don’t say nothing. You know, or it’s your fault it happened.
Like a little friendly-type atmosphere…people can come, and just talk…just to let them know like you’re not alone, we’re all here. We’re all here together, and you know, we can all uplift each other at the same time.
I mean, they say, it’s not murder, but it’s a form of murder. So let them get charged like it’s a murder charge. Let them not [say], oh, I’m going to give you a year in jail, and six months’ probation. No, you’re going to get 10 to 20 years, when you touching somebody’s child, or your own child, or, you know…Let them feel it… Like, if it were like the olden days, and you did something like that, they’d castrate you, they’ll just take it off. Then what are you going to do? You’re not going to have it…they really need to be punished some way, to make them stop.
If the woman are getting in trouble for it, how come the men aren’t…Like shame them…put them on the front page for buying it, and that might stop them from doing it, because they don’t want it to happen again.
Narrative as found in Shireen S. Rajaram and Sriyani Tidball, “Nebraska Sex Trafficking Survivors Speak —A Qualitative Research Study,” Faculty Publications, College of Journalism & Mass Communications (2016)