Criminalizing commercial sex work and branding ‘trafficking’ as the same thing raises the stakes for victims
In the United States, any person under the age of 18 whether a girl or boy with any assistance from a third party, is by definition a ‘trafficked victim’, whether they consent or initiate contact on their own accord.
According to Professor Marcus, attempting to criminalize all commercial sex work and/or conflate the term with “trafficking” actually aggravates the situation for children who are commercially sexually exploited. A better solution, he says, is to normalize sex work:
“This notion of ‘child sex trafficking’ has a dependency to make the stakes so high that people have trouble talking about their experiences. Most young people we met wouldn’t go to social service agencies to get help because social services records were tied to child sex trafficking and no one wants their ‘support network’ such as your girlfriend or boyfriend prosecuted. For children being controlled by predators who are selling their body for money, the only way people find out about it is by getting information from those in the market. The solution is not increasing punishment or more policing or stricter penalties. There is no bridge in the law between 16-17 years olds who are doing it by choice and the kidnapped child who is held captive. This only makes it harder to find out who is coerced because everybody is afraid of the police.” he said