Your typical anti-human trafficking organization would like you to think this is a real thing that happens every day, all over the world, thousands of times. It's a BDSM fantasy, which is pretty much what human traffickers are trying to sell you in lieu of reality. Image source: Training of O.com.
There are many organizations in the US that make a lot of money by promulgating lies, Fox News being the lead suspect, but there are some bottom-feeders swimming in the murky depths as well, and I'm not just talking about wild-eyed types like Joel Gilbert.
One particular group has been enormously successful, and that's the human trafficking alarmists. They've been so successful that MSNBC, a putatively left-leaning cable channels, has fallen for their tripe and regularly broadcast alarmist programs about human trafficking and sex slavery which are dripping with misinformation and bad numbers.
The Honest Courtesan, a website of a former prostitute, has been doing yeoman work in getting out the truth about human trafficking. She's even created a post full of cites to sources that give true numbers for human trafficking (hint: there is little or none of it going on) and exposing the really dubious techniques the anti-trafficking groups are using to gin up the numbers.
(By the way, the Honest Courtesan may very well be the smartest blog out there on sexual topics, it is very definitely worth reading and exploring, so DO check it out! Laci Green may be wise beyond her years, but the Honest Courtesan is wise, period.)
Here's a brief summary of what is ACTUALLY happening to remember next time you see an MSNBC documentary entitled: "Sex Slaves in America" or something to that effect. There are anti-trafficking organizations in the US that are making millions of dollars in grants from the US government to oppose human trafficking in America. They are generally the source of all the bogus numbers, which are arrived at by such devices as defining every youth who lives near the Mexican OR Canadian border as being at risk for being trafficked. They are doing it strictly to keep the money flowing. If they cared at all about people coerced into sex work, they wouldn't lie about them so massively.
The anti-sex trafficking people get the government grants because their brand of lies has some strong constituencies. One, they got the anti-sex moral conservative crowd. Two, they got the anti-sex prudo-feminist crowd (the Honest Courtesan calls them neofeminists, a term she coined, just as I coined prudo-feminist to describe the exact same set of behaviors among a certain class of feminists), three, they got the anti-prostitution crowd.
Now both the moral conservative crowd and the prudo-feminist crowd dislike prostitution, for different reasons. But they're not same as the anti-prostitution crowd, which encompasses them but ALSO includes the trade-unionism-of-the-married crowd (a Shavian borrowing). The TUOTM crowd consists of married women who see prostitutes as potential poachers on their men. They tend to clothe their objections in the language of the moral conservatives (and sometimes of the prudo-feminists) but their essential deal is protecting their husbands from temptation.
Because progressives, libertarians and some feminists openly supporting legalization of prostitution, laws against prostitution have become increasingly difficult to justify through traditional means. There's now a debate over prostitution, with some nations legalizing it, or at least de-criminalizing it, which of course is a problem for law enforcement and prisons, which make money from it.
That's what makes the whole human trafficking narrative so fucking appealing to conservatives and prudo-conservatives. In the libertarian/progressive/feminist narrative, prostitutes are women who simply have the entrepreneurial spirit and exercise it in the field of sex work. Legalization and regulation are the obvious things to do in this narrative, to protect the public health and give the sex workers the same rights as other workers.
But in the human trafficking narrative, prostitutes are victims, kidnapped, coerced (i.e., tortured and threatened) into performing sex work against their will, and for the profit of their owners/pimps/madams rather than themselves. Obviously the thing to do here is to get law enforcement involved, bust the traffickers and free the trafficking victims so they can work in other fields.
Well, there are undoubtedly some women who get trafficked, but every time you look at the numbers created by US anti-trafficking groups the numbers just crumble like dust, because the truth is very few women are trafficked. One woman trafficked is too many, of course, but frankly, the kind of response called for by the lying anti-trafficking groups is ALL out of proportion to the actual problem, and points to all the wrong solutions.
So next time you see some human trafficking special on MSNBC or CNN or CNBC, all of whom have drunk deeply from that well, know that you are being lied to about human trafficking, just as egregiously as Fox News lies about everything. Their goal is to induce a moral panic in you, to make you not think about what is being said. To hell with the lot of them, I say.