NEW YORK – The sex trade functions like any commercial market, operating on the principles of supply and demand, driven by an incentive for profit.
The “supply” here comprises the most vulnerable populations on the planet, primarily children and women who have endured childhood sexual violence, inequalities, displacement, foster care, and suffered from an appalling absence of socio-economic choices.
Their profiteers thrive online and off: pimps and traffickers; owners and managers of brothels, illicit massage parlors, strip clubs, escort services, sugar dating websites; and pornographers. These perpetrators generally enjoy impunity for the crimes they perpetuate to procure victims and keep them in check, using a variety of tactics, from vicious coercion to ritualistic violence to debt bondage.
The invisible pillar of the sex trade, however, are the men who purchase sexual acts with quasi-blanket exemption from accountability.