A cycle of violence
The first lesson of each edition of the Global Report is to recall that, everywhere, prostitution is a system of violence and exploitation: violence from sex buyers, traffickers, and procurers, but also violence from society and governments...
Some countries still consider prostitution as a social plague which needs to be eradicated, or as an expression of disorder and immorality. As such, depending on geographical location, prostituted persons can be criminalized, rejected or imprisoned, convicted and publically humiliated...
Minors and young adults ever more exposed
Amongst these victims, we find an increasing number are minors and young adults. Canadian sugar babies or street children from Brazil or South Africa, Parisian “michetonnes” or victims of sex tourism in Thailand…, the prostitution of minors and young adults takes vastly varying forms that remain difficult to grasp. Although the phenomenon is not new, it is renewed and intensified today under modern forms, which have adapted to new technologies.
Nevertheless, young people are not solely victims of this exploitation, some have become procurers or sex buyers. Manipulative boyfriends or “loverboys” who seduce young girls (often minors) and force them into prostitution operate in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Canada, and the Balkans. Moreover, young persons who visit brothels, alone or in groups, to assert their virility are growing in numbers.
Victims of migration
Our world is currently going through the largest migratory crisis since the Second World War. Caught up in political or military conflicts, persecution, poverty, climate change, or natural disasters, etc., local populations are victims of extraordinary abuse: torture and sexual exploitation, forced marriage and prostitution, rape as prize or weapon of war.
Persons looking to flee expose themselves to increased risks of exploitation as smugglers, soldiers, and criminal networks benefit from their vulnerability during their travels, in refugee camps or in “host” countries. For example, Nigerian criminal networks have considerably increased their activities and benefit from the migratory flow to Europe: more than 36,000 Nigerians (predominantly women) reached Italy in 2016; in France, 28% of the dismantled prostitution networks in 2016 were Nigerian.
Technological progress in the service of exploitation
The Internet and, more generally, the most recent technological advances, play a central role in the development of these forms of exploitation. Online prostitution is a soaring industry: escorting agencies, “adult” or “massage” sections on advertisement websites, more or less explicit advances on dating websites, etc. Social community platforms are diverted from their original purposes for prostitution means: WhatsApp is used by procurers to manage their operations, Facebook and Tinder are used to identify potential victims ...
Furthermore, the latest innovation in the field is the explosion of the sex dolls and sex robots market, which, behind its picturesque image, has opened the door for all kinds of abuse: sex dolls representing children, half bodies in silicone designed for sexual acts, brothels offering both prostituted persons and sex robots… Thus, technological advances have been used for exploitation, to reinforce the masculine behaviours of domination and to trivialize the purchase of sexual acts!
A blatant lack of resources in view of the scale of the phenomenon
Universally, the insufficiency of resources allocated to combating sexual exploitation, prostitution, and human trafficking, as well as the protection of victims, is evident. Several countries possess a legal arsenal suitable for efficiently combating human trafficking, yet the main obstacle to its implementation remains the lack of funds allocated.
Although various programs are dedicated to the protection of victims, their reintegration, and the provision of exit paths from prostitution, they function sparsely or poorly due to a lack of financial means allocated or a decrease in funds over the years. The various NGOs active in the field lack the resources to carry out their missions optimally and support these programs.
A debate in the process of radicalization
67% of identified human trafficking victims are victims of sexual exploitation, at both European and global levels. Yet, human trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes, the main and singular issue in the fight against human trafficking, is not subject to specific attention proportionate to its scale.
Instead, the media are increasingly influenced by the discourse of a powerful pro-prostitution current that seeks to mask the reality of sexual exploitation under an illusion of normality, even modernity by saying that prostitution is ‘sex work’ considered emancipatory for women and an alternative form of consensual sexuality! Thus, by surfing on the liberal thinking and populist rhetoric, this movement has managed to spread falsehoods as unassailable facts and therefore shut off the debate.