Prostitution and Sex Trafficking


Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

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November 2, 2015.



There exists a very strong correlation between prostitution and sex trafficking. Striking studies indicate that the demand created by prostitution is a vital enhancer of the sex trafficking. Prostitution arises because of the need of majorly women to alleviate themselves from poor deplorable conditions (Antrobus, 2004). In this quest, these women may fall into the hands of pimps or agents who lure them into prostitution as a means of making ends meet. The cycle follows that the agents seek to maximize their profits hence seek to deliver the vulnerable women and girls to cities that fetch more return or even other countries that generate more revenue in the sex trade.

Antrobus, (2004) reiterates that it is clear that prostitution is a pre-cursor of sex trafficking. Prostitution almost always leads the trend for sex trafficking. It is vital to note that prostitution and other activities related to prostitution ignite and fuel modern day human trafficking that is largely meant for sexual and labor exploitation. It is evident from numerous studies done on prostitution that prostitution forms a façade that covers the evil acts of sex traffickers, sexual exploiters and violent clients who take advantage of most of the prostitutes who have no defense.

Literary documentation reports that legalization of prostitution and tolerating prostitution has not only led to increased demand for the services but also increased the number of women and children that are affected by trafficking to attend to the need of commercial sexual exploitation. Statistics closely relate prostitution and trafficking to the point that more than 70% of the trafficked individuals end up in sexual slavery and prostitution.

Prostitution has been touted as the most supportive system to criminal activities. The increase and acceptance of prostitution as legal trade serves as a market expander to commercial sex activities, enhancement of the required security for other criminal activities together with opening up the legal market to enterprises that do not care about ethics but only crime. The efforts by numerous states to initiate regulation for prostitution have fallen way below the standards because of the failure to address the core challenges and problems that accompany the sex trade. For instance, failure to check on the abuses and violence meted on the sex workers. The result of the violence leaves the women and the children involved in a state of despair, pain and distress in all facets of their being. The damage from research studies is almost an impossible case to reverse.

The reason regulation of the prostitution industry is a major undoing to the safety and the well-being of the involved worked is that sex traffickers find it very easy to blend in with other legal operators leading to a compromised regulated industry. The regulatory authority finds it very hard to track, find and punish those who operate illegally and flout the rules of the trade.  A case in point relates to the Canadian study that reports that the bulk of the profits generated from the sex industry land in the pockets of the hardened human traffickers who have no regard for the poor women and children who end up in the sex trade and prostitution. This means that a very high number of men and women are trafficked and sold for sexual exploitation. The main approach that has borne some fruit regarding controlling human trafficking and prostitution is the prosecution of the peddlers of the facilities that offer these services. In Canada for instance, the prosecution of clients bore some fruit after two years of chasing the illegal businesspeople up and down.

There are numerous causes of prostitution that push women into being lured into the sex trafficking business. Firstly, Raphael (2004) indicates that the male demand for the supply of children and women of a particular caliber end up in fueling the prostitution and trafficking business. Other causes that are prevalent causes of the prostitution trade together with sex trafficking is globalization, racism, poverty, a collapse of women economic empowerment programs and also the capability to migrate from a single nation to another with the availability of a travel document.


According to Raphael (2004), the main cause for most women engaging in prostitution arises from the lack of capability to economically fend for themselves. Women and children who come from countries that are developing. In these nations, there exists multiple forms of discrimination and other factors that enhance the vulnerability of the women leading them to opt either willingly or unwillingly into the trade of prostitution (Ehrenreich & Hochschild (Eds.), 2002). The increase in the likelihood of high risks or lack of employment leads many women to opt for illegal immigration to fend for their economic freedom. This case arises because of the limited resources or opportunities that would enable the women to fend for themselves.


Another major cause that leads to the lapse of women into the prostitution trade is the failure by most nations to empower their women into political positions. The failure to include women in the leadership strata is a major contributor to the lapse in most policies that would save women from the depressing effects of violence and discrimination.


Apart from poverty, racism coupled with the incapacity of foreign women to get empowered in foreign nations leads them to opt largely for the sex trade and prostitution. The violence meted on this women may closely get associated with the level of racism in the particular country.  In most countries where racism still prevails, there are higher violence levels to the women involved in prostitution. This trend is mostly evident in areas that have no form of prostitution regulation and protection of the human rights of the individuals involved in this trade.


Immigration laws on one hand work to promote legal travel and economic progress of most women. The other side of the coin is the restrictive aspect of laws that largely block the poor women from striving to attain their economic goals by leveraging on globalization (Downe, 2006). With these restrictions in place, there is a high likelihood of women falling for the smugglers and traffickers who promise a better economic standing for these women. This trend rapidly fuels sex trafficking.


Consequences related to prostitution that is localized comprise of economic deprivation from the clients and the patrons benefiting from the services of the prostitutes. Another critical consequence that needs redress is the homelessness and the exposure to drugs that comes as a result of the vulnerability of the women involved (Downe, 2006). These consequences arise out of the desire of the violent traffickers and sex clients to gain compliance and consistency in the response of the women to their needs and requirements. This mileage leads to the total deprivation of the decision power from the prostituted women.


The women and children who survive the torture, abuse and hostage situations exposed to them during the sex trafficking ordeals end up in disassociation. This feeling comes as a result of the emotional disconnection from the real world and the desire to remain disassociated from the happenings around them. This dissociation is an integral part of prostitution and leaves a considerable number of women badly broken down.


The human rights perspective is keen to brand the acts of prostitution as acts of violence arising from the pimps, clients and other stakeholders in the industry (Farley, 2005). Farley (2005) insists that to alleviate the pain and suffering of the prostituted women, it is vital that the government takes radical measures against brothel owners, clients who expose the prostituted women to violence. In Canada, there is a considerable reduction of prostitution and sex trafficking arising out of the enforcement of laws that prosecute sex clients who meet violence on the women involved.  Businesspeople who run such facilities are also liable to prosecution if they do these acts out of the laid down legal procedures.


The human rights approach dictates that there is need to separate the child from the adult in addressing matters to do with prostitution. There should be a guideline between the adult who are willingly getting into the trade as opposed to the underage children who are forced into drugs and sex to the point that they have no option of getting out of the trade because of the need to sustain their drug habits.


In conclusion, there is need to campaign and highlight prostitution as a form of violence meted against women. In this case, there is the need that the government initiates dialogue and passes policies so that buyers, pimps, and other sex peddlers are taken as criminals. This policy has worked in Canada and can still work. The government should reduce tolerance levels of prostitution to zero levels. This reduction is achieved through public awareness campaigns. These campaigns should highlight the link that exists between adult prostitution and child trafficking.

With the increase in the causes of prostitution, there is a critical need to tackle the causes of these vices at the root. Government agencies and private institutions should take a leading role in the fight against violence against women.



Antrobus, P. (2004). The world women’s movement: Origins, issues, and strategies. Black Point, NS: Fernwood.

Downe, P. (2006). Two stories of migrant sex work, violence, and cross-border movement. Ending Woman Abuse. Canadian Woman Studies, 25(1, 2), 61–66.

Ehrenreich, B., & Hochschild, A. (Eds.). (2002). Global women: Nannies, maids, and sex workers in the new economy. NY: Metropolitan Books.

Ericksen, S-E. (Producer). (2006). Finding Dawn [Video recording]. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada.

Farley, M. (2004). “bad for the heart, Bad for the body, “: Prostitution is harmful to women despite being decriminalized or legalized . Violence Against Women, 10(10), 1087–1125.

Farley, M. (2005). Prostitution is harmful to women even if it’s indoors: Reply to Weitzer. Violence Against Women, 11(7), 950–964.

Farr, K. (2005). Sex trafficking: The world market for children and women. NY: Worth.

Krepakevich, J. (Producer). (2001). Donna’s story [Video recording]. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada.

Raphael, J. (2004). Listening to Olivia: Violence, poverty, and prostitution. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Sajnani, N., & Nadeau, D. (2006). Creating safer habitations for immigrant women of color: Performing the politics of possibility. Ending Woman Abuse. Canadian Woman Studies, 25(1, 2), 45–53.

Weitzer, R. (2005). Flawed theory and method in analyzing prostitution. Violence Against Women, 11(7), 934–949.







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