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Sex Trafficking

ENDING COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND SEX TRAFFICKING

Violence against girls and women takes different forms. Many are readily apparent and broadly accepted as abhorrent—even if the political will to act is missing. Others are disguised and deliberately hidden from view because they are part of a deeply entrenched system that is driven by profit and power.

Commercial sexual exploitation is one such form of violence. The industry itself is a site of extreme violence, as described by girls and women inside it. For most, the path into the industry was shaped by poverty, trauma, violence, joblessness, homelessness and substance addiction – all driven by race, sex and other forms of discrimination. For that reason, our work here is about challenging the industry and its reliance on vulnerability and systemic discrimination.

In the near term, that means seeking decriminalization for those who sell or are sold for sex, the vast majority of whom are women and girls. We seek solutions led by those in the industry who share our goals, including alternatives to exploitation, access to the resources they need to remain safe, and the ability to exit the industry as they choose. We want legal, social and cultural systems to support them, not punish them. We also seek accountability for those who purchase sex or profit from sexual exploitation.

Over the long term: We work to shift economics so women and girls have real, meaningful choices and shift cultural norms of masculinity so that men and boys don’t see human beings as commodities for sale.

THIS INITIATIVE FOCUSES IN FOUR SPECIFIC AREAS:

  • Promote the organizing and grassroots mobilization of those in the industry who share our goals of creating alternatives and pathways for marginalized girls and women, so that they themselves can lead efforts to create lasting change;
  • Shifting social and cultural norms by raising awareness on the harms and realities of commercial sexual exploitation;

  • Foster long-term solutions for at-risk girls and women by focusing on the specific systems and inequalities that shape trajectories into exploitation; and
  • Shape policy and legal frameworks to ensure anyone selling or sold for sex is decriminalized, that economic and educational opportunities for those vulnerable to entering or already within commercial sexual exploitation are available, and that anyone purchasing sex or profiting from sexual exploitation is held accountable.

Across all areas of the foundation, we address the root causes of exploitation – including patriarchy, racism, transphobia, homophobia, as well as profound economic marginalization.

Our near- and long-term approaches are mutually reinforcing – and both are essential.