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The Industry of Commercial Sexual Exploitation

June 30, 20235 min read

Purchasers of prostitution are buying a lie.” - Sandy Storm, Survivor

Sex buyers come from every walk of life, but they all have one thing in common: they see the human body as a product to be consumed. At its core, sex buying is the action of purchasing a person with the intent to commodify them into a piece of property that can be used in a transactional manner to satisfy the particular desires of the one making the procurement.

The Industry of Commercial Sexual Exploitation



Arguments can be made defending the selfish practice, but there is no rational explanation that can be offered as to why a person should be dehumanized and sold to a discerning buyer who is shopping for a specific size, shape, race, gender, or age. The "two consenting adults" argument loses its validity when we critically analyze the marketing tactics employed by traffickers who are building their businesses within the industry of commercial sexual exploitation. These criminals put out a great deal of effort to target their victims and recruit new "employees." Eventually, these trafficked individuals are also utilized as marketing materials to expand the illicit enterprise while simultaneously luring new victims.


Coerced Consent

If consent has been given by someone manipulated by empty promises, threats of harm, or financial compensation, is that really consent at all? And if consent has been coerced with the promise of provision, protection, or prosperity, what validity does it offer as one of the “two consenting adults” involved in the equation? When there is a third person involved in the exchange, and that individual is receiving financial remuneration, the equation becomes skewed in their favor. They then act as a motivator, convincing the one being sold to participate in the act of prostitution. This creates the cycle of industrialized rape that keeps the buyers coming back, driving the demand for victims and keeping the insidious cycle going.

There is no room for the buying of bodies in a civilized society. The very existence of the industry of commercial sexual exploitation allows for trafficking to flourish. When a demand for sex-for-sale drives the market, enterprising traffickers show up ready to make their "products" available for sale. Traffickers want submissive victims who will perform on command and hand over all the money made, so they first have to break their target down by stripping away their free will. This is how they exercise control and keep their victims held by invisible chains. When the sex trade flourishes, traffickers are motivated to recruit newer, younger "products" to sell. Children become targets to traffickers since they know they can sell a younger victim for a higher price, and the demand is already established.

Slippery Slopes

Porn is a pathway into prostitution for many, and if individuals are already caught up in an industry built on transactional sex, it may be more difficult for them to see when a trafficker is exploiting them. The stealthy influence of internet pornography permeates our cultural landscape, disseminating destructive narratives that contribute to the continuous exploitation of vulnerable populations. The lies of pornography shape young people's view of sex and relationships, encouraging them to mimic dehumanizing and abusive behavior portrayed on the screen.

Demand-Driven Depravity

Human traffickers, also known as pimps, madams, managers, or agents, do not screen their victims’ “clients” to make sure they’re safe, caring people with pure intentions. It’s all about the money, always at the victim’s expense. Oftentimes, these clients are criminals who have a desire to bring harm, shame, or abuse to the person they purchase. There is no line of defense or safety practice that can protect someone who has been sold to a person who wants only to “get what they paid for.” The only way a trafficking victim can be sold is when a human trafficker turns that person into a commodity, marketing them as a product in an illicit business transaction.

The global demand for rented bodies is unfortunately led by the American male, and often the biggest buyers of “sex tourism” are American businessmen acting as “mongers” sampling different cultures by purchasing people to use and discard. Whether in open-market red light districts, or under the guise of anonymity that is created when purchases are made online, the global sex trade is driven by the American dollar.

The industry of commercial sexual exploitation disguises itself as empowering, but nothing could be further from the truth. People who are being bought and sold wish they could break free but often don’t know where to begin the process of getting away from their trafficker, and if they are able to escape their manipulative handlers, the damage they have experienced in the process leaves them struggling to find healing, safety, and stability.


Solution-Centered Change

We must educate men about how being involved in the demand side of the sex industry is damaging to the person being purchased, the man involved in the transaction, and our civilized society as a whole. Sex buyers think they are getting intimacy, but they receive a facade, just a product created by a trafficker who is compelling the victim to become a commodity that can be sold over, and over, and over. This just confirms all the lies the victim has believed about the world:

• There's no one she can trust.
• There's no one who can help her.
• Men only want one thing.
• She will never find a real hero.

Recognizing the inherent value of each person and being aware of the intrinsic worth of every individual is the first step to protecting the human rights of the other people we share this world with. If we want to remove price tags from people, we need to stop engaging in the culture that attaches monetary value to human beings and turns their most private, intimate acts into commodities to be bartered over. How could someone who believes in empowerment engage in an industry that thrives on women being stripped of their dignity and put on display to be rated and haggled over by men with money?

We know that every human has an inherent value and a worth that cannot be defined by dollar signs and decimals, but the industry of commercial sexual exploitation only sees the monetary value of women in strip clubs and on street corners. By championing and upholding the innate virtue of each individual with whom our lives connect, we can shift conversations, policy, and global markets to stand in opposition to trafficking and exploitation.

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Sandy Storm

Sandy Storm is an author, speaker, and abolitionist. Generously gifted with a creative spirit, Sandy is an inspiration to many. She shares her story of great love, hope, forgiveness, and redemption, and her presentations have been called educational, inspiring, and powerful. Attendees leave feeling empowered to bring positive change to their circles of influence. Sandy is also a published author, having written a trilogy about her experiences with child abuse, addiction, abortion, human trafficking, and the industry of commercial sexual exploitation, available at FootprintPub.com. Sandy has experienced a powerful transformation, going from victim to survivor, and now she is truly thriving, now living what can only be described as a brand new life.

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