Policy Priority
Vulnerabilities and Sexual Exploitation
The sex trade is a product of systems of oppression objectifying, commodifying, and dehumanizing the vulnerable to benefit those with power and privilege.

Systems of Oppression Feed

Systems of Prostitution

Alisa Bernard, Thistle Farms Director of Public Policy & Advocacy

compounded vulnerability

of survivors experienced sexual assault as children.¹

of survivors experienced homelessness in their lifetime.²

of girls identified as black in cases of commercial sexual abuse of a minor in one county, while only 6.2% of that counties population identified as black.³

Listening To Survivors

The pimps hang out at the group homes. It sounds horrible, but they do. They know where the vulnerable are.

Ne'Cole, thelifestory.org

I come from generational prostitution. I was in foster care and had a son. When they took him away, I remember being just broken. That kicked my prostitution into high gear. It was the only way I knew how to make money quickly. I had a false illusion that if I made enough money I could get an apartment, get a job and then I could get my son back.

Quintecia, thelifestory.org

One of our survivors shared, ‘How could I have left? Where would I have gone? It’s not like I had a family to go to. He found me in the first place because I was homeless. I eventually got away when he went to jail. The police had social workers help me find somewhere to stay.

Jayne, thelifestory.org

I’ve been working with girls for a long time and the majority come out of foster care. They get moved around from foster home to foster home. They know people get paid to house them so they feel like they’re for sale. So when this guy comes along and offers them what feels like family, what do you think happens? They go with him. I’ve seen it so many times. It’s the story of foster girls that I know.

Noel Gomez, thelifestory.org

We need to talk about the economy. When people say we should legalize the sex trade so that those who are impoverished or vulnerable can have a way to survive, they’re missing the point. That’s an argument for equal wages and more jobs, not making it OK to buy or sell someone.

Alisa Bernard, worldwithoutexploitation.org

Violence is inherent in the sex industry. Numerous studies show that between 70 percent and 90 percent of children and women who end up in the commercial sex industry were sexually abused prior to entry. No other industry is dependent upon a regular supply of victims of trauma and abuse.

Rachel Lloyd, from her book Girls Like Us

Root factors to vulnerability are not inevitable

We stand against these oppressions by supporting initiatives that:

Increase Awareness. Build Community. Encourage Healthy Relationships. Discourage Discrimination. Create Education and Employment Opportunities.

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Educational Resources

View all
Spanish Prime Minister Vows to Abolish Prostitution, Saying It ‘Enslaves’ Women
Prostitution is one of the cruelest aspects of the feminization of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women.
The COVID-19 Pandemic: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives on Children, Women and Sex Trafficking
Over the past months, the female population has suffered from the outcome of the novel coronavirus. As a result, sex trafficking in girls and women has increased with the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 Crisis Putting Human Trafficking Victims at Risk of Further Exploitation, Experts Warn
Lockdowns, travel restrictions, resource cutbacks and other measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus are putting victims of human trafficking at risk of further exploitation, while organized crime networks could further profit from the pandemic, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
¹Melissa Farley PhD , Ann Cotton PsyD , Jacqueline Lynne MSW , Sybille Zumbeck PhD , Frida Spiwak PhD , Maria E. Reyes PhD , Dinorah Alvarez BA & Ufuk Sezgin PhD (2004) Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries, Journal of Trauma Practice, 2:3-4, 33-74, DOI: 10.1300/J189v02n03_03