Good Essay About Abuse Of Women In The Sex Trade Industry

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Women, Trade, Commerce, Business, Crime, Industry, Criminal Justice, Sexual Abuse

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/01/01


Women have often been viewed as the lesser gender as compared to men. This doctrine of women inferiority have been so prevalent that it can be traced back even in the early history of human civilizations. Ancient scholars such as Aristotle, for example, has expressed their gender bias in saying that “men should have authority over women because in women the rational element in the human soul is easily overruled by the irrational” . Being viewed as vulnerable and helpless, women have always been a target of abuses. These abuses may take any form such as sexual, emotional, psychological or physical. In terms of frequency, women have experienced more abuse cases as compared to men especially when it comes to sexually related abuses . For the same reason, gender has been regarded as one of the major factors why women are always exploited. This gender bias is very much observable in the sex-trade industry where most victims are females. Studies have shown that women are more frequently victimized in the sex trade industry; outnumbering men in huge proportions. The prevalence of this victimization must be somehow related to the gender bias of society. For the same reason, this paper would like to investigate the prevalence of women victimization in the sex trade industry in a global perspective. This paper would also like to examine the role of women in relation to the sex trade industry and to determine why they have been the common subject of violence and abuse.

Sex Trade

Sex trade or sex trafficking has been defined as the recruitment, enticement and harboring of human beings for commercial sexual exploitation. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking representing 79% of these cases. Sex trade is a universal issue and is prevalent most especially in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas. Despite its prevalence, most researchers find it difficult to determine the extent of sexual trafficking in a global setting. Evidently, this activity is illegal and so a comprehensive report regarding its occurrence could not be accurately determined. As observed, most sex trafficking cases are unreported while other cases of sex trafficking is difficult to identify from the common cases of prostitution and other sex related crimes that involves women and children. But despite the raw data and statistics, it could not be denied that sex trade or sex trafficking is a global issue and is still prevalent despite local and international efforts to curb this activity. UNDOC reports in 2012 reveal that human trafficking has been detected in 118 countries between 2007 and 2010.
Sex trade is evidently influenced by supply and demand. The prevalence of this criminal activity has been largely associated with a stream of paying clients or ‘johns’ that initiate demand. Several factors have also been seen as motivator of the resilience of the sex trade industry in the world. Among the most common factors are poverty, membership in gangs, prior history of child sexual abuse and child sexual assault, the presence of large numbers of unattached and transient males in communities, recruitment by organized crimes and prostitution dens are considered as the main drivers of supply and demand that leads to sex trafficking. According to scholars, the most vulnerable individuals that become victims of sex trafficking are those persons who has “dysfunctional family backgrounds”. Tydlum’s observation is closely associated with the theory of social disorganization wherein it postulates that criminal activity becomes prevalent because of the breakdown of social institutions such as the school, community and most especially the family. As observed, women and children who come from broken homes or those that are being physically and emotionally abused become vulnerable for trafficking as they tend to leave their families and support groups. There are even cases of dysfunctional families wherein the head of households themselves pimps their wives and children for prostitution.

Other Forms of Sex Trade Involving Women

Sex trade as a commercialization of sex is not only confined in prostitution and sex trafficking activities. Most often, women and girls are coerced into pornography for economic gain both of the victim and the perpetrator. In 2007, it is estimated that the adult industry is worth around $60 billion. As observed by Sarikakis and Shaukat, “pornography industry is a most successful global media industry: its products have a universal appeal; increasing demand fuels an innovative and intensified means of supply; its cost-effective production mode makes it versatile, tapping into new resources around the world; it addresses the needs and caters to the interests of a wide range of consumer groups; it is a fierce adopter of new technologies, has a most efficient distribution system, boasts staggering income figures and is increasingly gaining political clout in various regions across the world”. In the modern society, pornography has successfully infiltrated other mediums such as the media and the online community. As observed, “In today’s era of webcams and chat rooms, the lines between interactive pornography and virtual prostitution websites have been blurred”. Several types of pornographic activities have been observed that utilized women as the object of abuse. Most often, women who are lured into prostitution are also engaged in the making of pornographic materials. On the other hand, other women are unaware that they are being lured into pornography. With the advent of advanced communication technologies, the level of pornography has also become sophisticated. Unsuspecting teens, for example, are initially being lured into friendly conversation. Eventually, through seduction and sexually provocative conversations, women, especially the young ones, become willing participants.

Women in the Sex Trade Industry

Studies have shown that most of the victims of sex trafficking are women. According to statistics, almost 80% of the victims in the sex trade industry are females; 66% of which are women while 13% are girls . This data evidently shows that compared to males, females are obviously the conspicuous target and victims of the sex trade industry. A similar observation has been identified by the World Health Organization wherein their researchers claim that those who are trafficked into the sex industry and as domestic servants are more likely to be women and children. Statistics have also shown that the percentage of abuse between genders have been steady since 2003 up to 2006 wherein it is estimated that two out of three trafficked victims are women. While the number of women who are being victimized has declined since 2007 up to 2009, the number was alarmingly offset by an increase in the victimization of girls and children. As observed by researchers, “The number of trafficked girls detected increased through the period 2007- 2010, during which time girls constituted 15-20 per cent of the total number of detected victims”. On the other hand, women as perpetrators in the sex trade industry are less prevalent as compared to men. But despite the fact that men are the most commonly identified sex traffickers, women have significantly higher participation in sex trade as compared to any other crimes that they are associated with. Often, these women perpetrators work as pimps. Sex trafficking may also be perpetrated by criminal organizations that operate within a locality or region. Most often, these criminal organizations are part of a global network of human traffickers. Traditionally, huge underground organizations such as the mafia and the Chinese triads are known to operate clandestinely in trafficking women and children for sex trade and may use local criminal organizations as their satellite networks. However, current investigations have shown that most perpetrators “tended to be smaller crime groups, smuggling rings, gangs, loosely linked criminal networks, and corrupt individuals who tended to victimize their own nationals”. This observation is consistent with the finding of UNDOC that almost half of victims detected worldwide were trafficked across borders within their region of origin” while 27% are being trafficked domestically. On the other hand, only 24% of the victims are trafficked internationally

Theories Regarding the Prevalence of Sexual Abuse of Women

Sexism or the tendency discriminate women because of their sex may offer significant reasons as to why women are often abused sexually. People who believe in sexism are termed as sexists and are characterized as promoting or exploiting any irrelevant or impertinent markings between sexes. Sexists have extreme prejudice against women and regard them as inferior groups in society and male perpetrators of sex trafficking must fall under this category. Being stereotyped as a vulnerable and inferior gender, women find themselves the target of sexual traffickers. For the same reason, it is quite logical to think that women and girls are common victims of sex trafficking primarily because they are prejudiced as inferior. Evidently, aside from being physically incapable of fighting their captors, they are also emotionally and psychologically vulnerable. Also, women and children are the most vulnerable population in sex trafficking because they refuse to report the crime and cooperate with authorities for fear of retribution. On the other hand, perpetrators use manipulation and brainwashing to maintain control over their victims while unsuspecting children are groomed for a life of prostitution.
Another popular theory has emerged as to how and why women are lured into the sex trade industry and why they are frequently the target of sexual abuses. One particular theory is the sexual objectification theory. According to this theory, many women are often neglected as persons as they are seen as sexual objects and treated as an object to be valued for its use. As a result, “a woman’s body or body parts are singled out and separated from her as a person and she is viewed primarily as a physical object of male sexual desire”. Evidently, when a woman has been objectified, she essentially loses the respect intended for a person. The theory of objectification is closely related to dehumanization wherein people are stripped of their humanity. This objectification has dire consequences and just like dehumanization, objectification makes a person vulnerable to extreme abuses. The perils of dehumanization can be observed during ethnic conflicts wherein such activities often results to genocide. In Rwanda, for example, the dehumanization of the Tutsis’, a certain ethnic group, led to their genocide by the rival group, Hutus. Evidently, a similar scenario has also been observed during the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany. While these incidents are extreme examples of objectification and its implications, the prevalence of women abuse in society can be closely associated with this lack of respect and esteem to the female gender as a person.
Social Disorganization is also one of the most decisive theories regarding the prevalence of women victims in the sex trade industry. This theory posits that women, especially young ones, are being forced into the sex trade because of their social predicament. The theory of social disorganization implies the role of social institutions in influencing the tendency of women, especially children to get themselves involved in the sex trade industry. According to one studies, “For young children under the age of 12, it is invariably a family member who prostitutes the child through giving/selling them into situations in which they will be sexually exploited”. In a study conducted in San Francisco, it was found that 57% of the children who are involved in sex trade have been sexually abused as children while 49% have been physically abused. This particular scenario must have been avoided had there been adequate intervention from social institutions within the community where the child resides. For the same reason, the breakdown of academic, religious and especially families greatly contribute to the prevalence of women and children that are being forced into the sex industry.

Risks and Dangers that Women Face in the Sex Trade Industry

Victims of the sex trade industry are exposed to numerous risks that involved physical and mental health issues. According to experts, the nature of the sexual services provided by women in prostitution is most often violent, degrading and abusive. It should also be noted that women who works in sex trades are not only exposed to physical abuse but also verbal, emotional and psychological abuses. Verbal abuse is not uncommon; in fact, verbally abusing women in the sex trade industry is just like a normal state of affairs that women are always subjected into. On the other hand, physical abuses pose a more serious and demeaning form of abuse. Among the most common form of physical abuse on women includes tying them on bed posts and subjecting them to lashes until they bleed. Others indiscriminately castigates women as seeing thus provides them sexual pleasures. Some lash women with razors; bite their body parts; burn their body parts with cigarettes; and even urinate and defecate on them. The numerous sexual encounters with different men make women and girls who are involved in sex trade at higher risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. It is also found that most customers prefer to have sex without a condom and some can get violent if a woman insists that they use some sexual protection such as condoms. Some women are forced into taking drugs and alcohol while others do so perhaps to avoid the mental torture of being in a particular situation. Rape is also one of the implications of sex trade and prostitution. Rape being defined as an unwanted sexual act can be closely related to prostitution. These physical and mental abuses have dire implications to the overall well-being of a woman engaged in these activities. As observed by Connor and Healy, “Women who have worked in prostitution exhibit the same incidents of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a result of being beaten, hit, kicked in the head, strangled or having one’s head slammed into objects such as dashboards which have been documented in torture survivors and battered women”.


While sex trade exposes women to extreme physical, emotional and mental abuses, social factors that forces women to engage in such activities could define why until now, the abuse of women could not be totally eradicated. As observed, the sex trade industry is a global industry that affects almost all countries and genders. However, it is interesting to note that between male and females, it is the female gender that has been the subject of sexual exploitation. The prevalence of female victims exceeds male in a ration of three to one and what’s even more alarming is the increase of younger female victims. Social theories that relate why women have been frequent targets of abuse especially in the sex trade industry reveals that it is a result of sexism, sexual objectivity and the breakdown of social institutions or social disorganization. Consolidating these findings, it can be deduced that the vulnerable and inferior perspective of society toward women makes them conspicuous target of people who operate in the sex trade industry. And as long as these particular perspectives on women exist, women will continue to suffer such abuses.


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