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What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking involves the buying and selling of people, typically for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation. It is a form of modern-day slavery. Slavery has existed in every society and in every generation. Slavery was legally abolished in many societies, including the United States, in the 19th century, but it has since taken on a different form. Even though human trafficking has been a federal crime in the U.S. since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, it still takes place in every city and state including Maryland.

Common misconceptions around trafficking include that if it occurs in the United States, it is foreign nationals being trafficked into the country, not U.S. citizens. The truth is, foreign-born victims in the United States account for a small percentage of trafficking victims. The vast majority of victims are U.S. citizens, and mostly women and children.

Araminta focuses specifically on the sex trafficking of minors within the United States. It remains the least served, least recognized, and least funded victim population in the country.

Child Sex Trafficking

Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST), also known as Child Sex Trafficking (CST), is the commercial sexual exploitation of American children within U.S. borders. It is the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act” where the person is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident under the age of 18 years.

According to the law, there is no requirement to prove that force, fraud, or coercion was used to obtain the child’s participation. There is no such thing as a child or teen prostitute because anyone under the age of 18 who is involved in the commercial sex industry is a victim according to our federal law. The law recognizes the effects of threats of harm and psychological manipulation by the traffickers used to control their victims.

Types of child sex trafficking include (but is not limited to) prostitution, pornography, stripping, sex slavery and other commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Children are trafficked by pimps, gangs and their own families. Any child can be a victim of sex trafficking regardless of demographics, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or parental involvement. The vulnerabilities of ALL children can lead to victimization.

Although there is no true estimate of the number of victims of this crime due to the criminal nature and lack of reporting, experts estimate 100,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17, are at-risk for sexual exploitation and trafficking in the United States every year. (Shared Hope International)

Statistics

  • Between 2013-2018, 500 reports of suspected child sex trafficking (CST) were screened into Maryland’s 24 Local Department of Social Services agencies, involving over 400 individual alleged minor victims. The majority of alleged victims were Maryland residents, between the ages of 14 and 17 when first identified as potential trafficking victims.
  • Due to statewide training efforts and improved policies, annual reports of CST cases to Child Protective Services have significantly increased each year between 2013-2018. The most frequent referral source is Law Enforcement.
  • Preliminary data shows CST victims in Maryland are 93% female, 4% male, and 3% transgender.
  • Jurisdictions with most CST Reports:
    1. Baltimore City
    2. Prince George’s Co.
    3. Baltimore Co.
    4. Washington Co.
    5. Anne Arundel Co.
    6. Harford Co.
  • Source: University of Maryland School of Social Work, Child Sex Trafficking Victims Initiative Child Sex Trafficking in Maryland: January 2018 Update Dr. Nadine Finigan-Carr, PhD & Amelia Rubenstein, MSW, LCSW-C

  • In 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline experienced a 13% jump in the number of human trafficking cases being reported. [Polaris]
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children responded to 10,093 reports of possible child sex trafficking in 2017. [NCMEC]
  • The average life expectancy of a female being exploited through sex trafficking is 7 years. Homicide and AIDS are the top two causes of death. [FBI]
  • Victims of child sex trafficking report they are typically given quotas of 10 to 15 buyers per night. [Shared Hope International]
  • Worldwide, women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery, accounting for 28.7 million, or 71% of the total. Women represent 99% of victims of forced labor in the commercial sex industry. One in four victims of modern slavery are children and represent 21% of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation. (ILO, 2016)
  • While Human Trafficking is the number 2 criminal industry in the U.S. and around the world, it is expected to take the number one spot from drugs in the next couple of years. Where drugs can be sold once a person can be sold over and over again. [UNODC]