Every day on the streets of the US, women are being raped, viciously attacked and left for dead. When women do die, their killings almost never make the local news and the perpetrators who commit these horrendous acts of violence do so with almost total impunity.
Under the country’s laws, these women are victims. But their lives are deemed worthless by the public and the state. They hold no political agency or economic power and, while they are incarcerated time and time again, the perpetrators – the people who hurt them – are never jailed.
This is the reality of life as a victim of human trafficking in the US today.
Even the concept of choice is alien to many of the women with whom we work. In our experience, prostituted women are often victims of trafficking at some point in their lives. Choice implies a freedom and sense of wellbeing few enjoy when sexually exploited.
There is a good reason that the word “consent” does not appear in any legal definition of human trafficking. When it comes to being exploited, consent is irrelevant. Trafficking is defined as someone profiting from another through the use of fraud, force or coercion.