Sex Trafficking

In its most basic terms, sex trafficking is fraudulently, forcibly or coercively causing another to engage in a commercial sex act.  However, if the victim of sex trafficking is under the age of 18 merely causing him/her to engage in a commercial sex act is enough to constitute sex trafficking.  Maryland also criminalizes sex trafficking activity that does not rise to the level of force, fraud or coercion for adults.  Although this does not meet the federal definition of trafficking, Maryland recognizes that a person that is pimp-controlledmay be a victim of trafficking.  An important distinction is that sex trafficking does not only include prostitutionSex trafficking relates to any commercial sex act, including pornography and stripping.

There are a lot of misconceptions about sex trafficking. Sex trafficking may include, but does not require movement of the individual. A person may be trafficked out of their own bedroom. Victims of sex trafficking in Maryland have many different faces. They may be foreign-born, domestic, minors or adults and they may be male, female, or transgender.

Traffickers also do not fall into a particular demographic or necessarily conform to the notion of a stereotypical pimp.  A trafficker may be male or female, young or old.  A trafficker could be a family member or may appear to be a boyfriend.  Traffickers often control their victims through power and manipulation, and prey on the vulnerabilities of the victim, although that dynamic may not be readily observable by someone outside of the relationship between the trafficker and the victim.

Victims of sex trafficking are often found working in establishments that offer commercial sex acts, i.e. brothels, strip clubs, pornography production houses. Such establishments may operate under the guise of:

  • Massage parlors

  • Escort services

  • Adult bookstores

  • Modeling studios

  • Bars/strip clubs

It is important to note that not everyone working in these establishments is trafficked.  Trained individuals should be engaged if you suspect human trafficking.

No country or community has proven to be immune to sex trafficking.