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Part 3: Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is defined under the Florida State statute on human trafficking.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign defines sex trafficking as a commercial sex act (including but not limited to prostitution and/or pornography as a means for the perpetrator to make money) induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.

Recruiting Tactics for Sex Trafficking

How do traffickers trap their victims?

EMS personnel should understand the tactics traffickers use to recruit victims. This can help you notice potential cases of human trafficking.

Recruiting Tactic

How Traffickers Employ the Method

False relationships (commonly called “boyfriending in”)

In this tactic, traffickers or their accomplices target individuals or groups (usually girls or young women) in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls. The traffickers pretend to take a romantic interest in the victim. Perpetrators may move quickly, inviting the girls back to a location to socialize and keep them in captivity. Traffickers may also be more methodical, manipulating the victim into first believing that she is in a legitimate relationship, then cutting her off from friends and loved ones, and then making demands when the victim is emotionally invested in the relationship and is unlikely to refuse.

Recruitment by other victims

Victims often form traumatic bonds (commonly referred to as “Stockholm Syndrome) with their traffickers, which can lead them to begin recruiting others. Victims may begin to befriend new victims and describe their exploitation as voluntary, even glamorous. They show off items which were bought for them by their traffickers and make the new victims believe that they will be well taken care of and earn a lot of money. That is one way that traffickers convince victims to lure new victims into the devastating trafficking scheme.

Fraudulent job ads

Some traffickers place fraudulent job ads or hand out flyers for open interviews in high-traffic areas. They may employ the use of social media to recruit “interviewees,” and often actually complete a formal interview to get a feel for the personality of the victim and target those who may be most vulnerable. There have been cases in which dancers have been brought to other countries on cultural performance visas who are ultimately exploited as exotic dancers upon arrival in the new country.

Marriage brokers and/or matchmakers abroad

Commonly referred to as mail-order brides, these victims are told that they are going to a different country to marry a resident of that country. However, the victim is generally trafficked for sex after arriving. The new “spouse” may also force the victim into domestic labor.

Methods of Control for Sex Trafficking

EMS personnel should know the common tactics that traffickers use to make sure their victims do not run away and stay dependent on them. EMS personnel should understand that when they encounter a victim at a scene, the victim may not ask for help because they are being controlled. Below several methods of control are described:

  • Drug addiction
  • Withholding food
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Constant surveillance
  • Threats of shame and humiliation

When victims come from different countries, victims are controlled when traffickers:

  • Confiscate victims’ passports or other identification
  • Threaten deportation or arrest if victims reach out to authorities
  • Retaliate by using family members in the victim’s country of origin (e.g. threatening violence or death to those left behind in another country)

News Report

Common Sex Trafficking Locations and Industries

There are certain businesses, industries, and locations in which it is easier to hide the fact that exploited people are working. The following are the most common examples of places where victims of sex trafficking have been found in the state of Florida:

  • Bars and restaurants
  • Spas and massage parlors, housed in commercial settings or private homes
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Escort services
  • Adult entertainment (e.g., strip clubs, adult film studios)

Statistic: The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported in 2016 that the top industries for sex trafficking were hotel/motel based (10.5%), illicit massage/spa business (10%), online ad/venue (7.3%), residence-based communities (6.5%), and other venues (4.4%).

Sponsored by the

The Human Trafficking Project was supported by Award No. VF004 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, Sponsored by the Institute for Family Violence Studies and the State of Florida.