What is Sex Trafficking?

Sex trafficking. Most of us hear those words and think of an issue that is distant—something that happens in other parts of the world, or to other groups of people…Not something that could happen in our city, community, neighborhood, or family. Unfortunately, the reality is, the issue is much closer to home than we realize.

Sex trafficking is defined by the Department of Homeland Security as “modern day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.”

People become victims of trafficking through many different situations. Common scenarios include being coerced by being promised a job or education, and becoming romantically involved with someone, and consequently being forced or manipulated into sex trafficking.

Atlanta is considered to be a hub for sex trafficking, as are many other large cities. A study by the Urban Institute estimated the value of the underground commercial sex industry in Atlanta to be worth $290 million in 2007, and the average income of a pimp in 2011 to be $32,833 per week. While many instances of sex trafficking occur during large events, such as sports games and concerts, it is occurring on any given day of the week as well.

In 2016, a 14 year old girl from Roswell, GA was trafficked on backpage.com, raped, sold, and starved; being fed drugs instead of food. Her mom commented to a reporter, “I never thought something like this would happen to me, my children, my family.”

Due to the power traffickers have through the fear they instill in their victims, many victims may not ask for help or even acknowledge they are being trafficked. Some important ways to help are learning what the signs of trafficking are, and what to do if you see them. This website provides a list of indicators of sex trafficking, and we’ve provided more websites where you can learn even more about sex trafficking below.

Courtney Hintermeyer, LAPC



CBS News

Department of Homeland Security

Polaris Project

Urban Institute

Urban Institute research report


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