The Business of Trafficking
by Brooke Hartman
In the July issue of World Next Door Magazine, Brad described sex trafficking as the overlap of prostitution, slavery, and human trafficking. This made sense to me in Cambodia, but it wasn’t until this trip to Nepal that I gained an even more visceral definition of the injustice: rape for profit.
Don’t blow past that one: Sex trafficking is really just a for-profit rape business.
There are owners, managers, distributors, supply chains, and operation centers. The business owners utilize the same cost/benefit models as all other businesses, and right now, in many places, sex trafficking is a low-risk, high-reward business. It’s not just a few outlying mean guys. It’s an organized criminal enterprise: a $32 billion global industry with an infinite supply of commodity and bottomless demand.
Although I stand awed and stumped and paralyzed as I follow the organizational chart from one trafficked girl all the way to the top of the command chain, many organizations—despite the enormity of the problem—are shaking themselves of fear and paralysis and are attacking different stages in the sex-trafficking process.
Prevention at the source
Organizations like the Center for Global Impact (as featured in our July and September issues) are working tirelessly to reduce economic and social vulnerability in communities where sex trafficking is rampant. They do this by providing alternative skills and incomes for at-risk women. They tackle poverty as a form of prevention, and understand that when the standard of living is raised and poverty is reduced, risk levels for trafficking decline.
Rescuing the one
International Justice Mission is all about the rescuing of the one. Their head of sex trafficking casework puts it this way, “While there are millions of girls and women victimized every day, our work will always be about the one. The one girl deceived. The one girl kidnapped. The one girl raped. The one girl infected with AIDS. The one girl needing a rescuer. To succumb to the enormity of the problem is to fail the one. And more is required of us.” While IJM fulfills its intent to rescue the one, they are also highly focused on justice and prosecution using intelligence-led investigations. They are combating a different piece of the injustice — rescue and conviction.
Attacking the supply chain
Tiny Hands Nepal is using the same model of intelligence-led research operations, working with local informants and collecting evidence to both attack the supply chain and make sex-trafficking a high-risk, low-reward industry.
All the intelligence is funneled into a fusion center that maps out the entire network, source to destination—including points of origin (for both the trafficker and the victim), transit routes, and destinations. They are at the borders intercepting individual girls on a daily basis, but it doesn’t end there. Through the interception, they’re able to gather information about the trafficker and manage the trafficked girl’s case for prosecution. Ultimately, they intend to free those held captive, arrest and convict the traffickers, and de-incentivize the trafficking business so it’s not profitable anymore.
“Every successful intervention costs the criminals involved in trafficking a huge amount of money. Every successful prosecution costs them even more time and valuable resources. Every criminal sentenced to jail changes a community’s and a culture’s understanding of what is and is not acceptable.” (God in a Brothel by Daniel Walker)
This is the approach by which Tiny Hands is attempting to attack Global Sex Trafficking—a pretty massive undertaking. But, like Gary Haugen said, “Perhaps the greatest challenge in confronting evil is simply getting started.”