Fact, fiction and fear.
Social media is unmatched in its ability to raise awareness of the dangers of human trafficking. But what happens when the information being spread on the internet is damaging, dangerous, and completely antithetical to fact?
We’re working to create a world where no person is bought, sold, or exploited. Read more about our latest efforts here.
The LGBTQ community faces high rates of discrimination, violence, and economic instability. LGBTQ youth who are forced to leave their homes or communities are often uniquely vulnerable to the traffickers and sex buyers who prey on those who lack choices and are seeking food or shelter. Given these realities, the transgender community often speaks of the sex trade as the only economic opportunity available to a marginalized and discriminated against community. We need to change that.
Are you working with survivors experiencing trauma, and curious about how their physical bodies register trauma and how it impacts their decision-making and actions? Have you noticed that your body registers the trauma of your clients and that working in the anti-sex trafficking movement has impacted the way you feel in the world? Would you like to better understand and mitigate vicarious trauma?
Young people experiencing homelessness are a primary target of exploiters. Pimps and other traffickers wait outside foster care group homes, youth homeless shelters and bus stations to lure in vulnerable youth with false promises of love and money.
Across the country, there is heated debate and discussion about criminal justice reform. Many people are educating themselves on the topic, often for the first time. Among the proposals being considered is full decriminalization of the sex trade. Proponents of full decriminalization support not only decriminalizing prostituted persons, but also pimps, brothel owners and sex buyers.
How do we create a more equitable and exploitation-free world? We do it by coming together, which is what Equal Not Exploited - the third annual World Without Exploitation (WorldWE) Youth Summit - is all about. This year, WorldWE is taking its annual gathering of allies, activists and artists, ages 16 - 28, into a digital space, reaching a national audience. During our education and activism-focused summit you’ll hear from those impacted by exploitation … learn more about its root causes and consequences … and explore new and creative strategies for creating a world where no one is bought, sold or exploited. See you there!
No mainstream entity should profit from or facilitate sexual exploitation. Unfortunately, many well-established brands, companies, and organizations in America do just that. As we seek a world free from exploitation, it is imperative to name and shame the mainstream players in America that perpetuate sexual exploitation— whether that be through prostitution/sex trafficking, pornography, sexual objectification, and/or sexual violence.
As countries struggle to defeat trafficking for sexual exploitation, why aren’t governments confronting men who buy sex? Glaringly and notoriously absent from the global response to human trafficking is a comprehensive effort to address the demand that fosters sexual exploitation.
In “The Bitter Truth About Sugaring: Deception and false promises in exploitation's new frontier,” Tamar Arenson, of The One Campaign and Megan Lundstrom, co-founder of The Avery Center for Research & Services, will discuss the prevalence of sugaring and attempt to uncover the exploitative nature of these arrangements in a conversation moderated by Dr. Angie Henderson, professor of sociology at the University of Northern Colorado and co-founder of The Avery Center for Research & Services.
We know that chattel slavery in the US was built on a foundation of sexual violence in a myriad of forms. The land theft, resources appropriation and genocide of Indigenous peoples were also characterized by sexual violence. The same can be said of the colonization of Latin America. This history explains today's over-representation of women and children of color in the sex industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the inequalities at the root of so much suffering, exploitation and violence at every level in our relationships, communities, institutions and society. For many working to end gender-based violence, the issue of commercial sexual exploitation has long played a similar role in unmasking the historical and intersectional legacy of privilege and oppression being laid bare in the present moment.
Online porn has become a primary source of sex education for boys and young men around the world. Prior to 2000, most would first encounter soft-core pornographic images in magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse. Since 2000, the internet has become the main vehicle for porn, and hardcore porn is just a click away—it is free, violent, and based on the degradation and abuse of women.
The sex trade is being glamorized as never before – from the promotion of sugar dating, to films and shows that portray rich, independent "sex workers" choosing handsome, rich, kind johns who treat and pay them well, to advocacy from “sex workers” who argue that fully decriminalizing the sex trade is a move to empower women. Yet the reality of legalized prostitution looks far different than the rosy picture painted in popular culture.
We cannot discuss the sex trade in the U.S. without addressing colonization, slavery, and the institutionalized inter-generational oppression of women and girls. Ignoring this history has led to the continued exploitation, and too often criminalization, of women and girls of color.
Pornhub is the largest and most popular pornography website in the world. It is generating millions of dollars in advertising and membership revenue with 42 billion visits and over 6 million videos uploaded per year. And visits have only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet it has no system in place to verify reliably the age or consent of those featured in the pornographic content it hosts and profits from. And indeed, mounting evidence shows that films of the rape, abuse and trafficking of both women and children are hosted on Pornhub with disturbing regularity.
The testimonies of those who have survived sexual exploitation and human trafficking are the driving force behind our World Without Exploitation work. Credible research and statistics can help us to contextualize those survivor stories, making the systemic nature of this human rights and gender justice problem even more clear. In service to that goal, Katie Feifer – Research Director at The Voices and Faces Project – spearheaded a project whose goal was to survey and assess a large body of U.S.-based research on sex trafficking and exploitation. The resulting report, Get the facts: What we know about sex trafficking, sexual exploitation and prostitution in the U.S., identifies data that can be cited confidently in our advocacy and communications efforts.
The COVID-19 virus is impacting the United States, and the world, in unprecedented ways. In response to our changed social, economic and political landscape, online commercial sexual exploitation is changing as well. In “Online Exploitation Ecosystems: Short-term impact of COVID-19 on human trafficking in the US,” Rob Spectre, a technologist and the creator of childsafe.ai, an artificial intelligence platform protecting kids from online predators, considers how and why this global pandemic is affecting the online ecosystem that fuels human trafficking.
As a new decade begins, World Without Exploitation is more focused than ever on the fight to create an exploitation-free world. We’re advocating for the adoption of The Equality Model, a survivor-focused response to sexual exploitation. We’re reaching out to candidates from across the political spectrum and at all levels of government. And we’re continuing to educate the public on the impact that trafficking and exploitation have on victims, families, and communities.
Sex trafficking happens every day in America. The Super Bowl is an opportunity for us to connect the dots and illustrate the devastating harms to prostituted people that occur when men purchase sex. When large numbers of men with disposable income are concentrated in one place for major sporting events, demand for sex buying increases.
In 2019, World Without Exploitation - the national coalition to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation – created more change in more ways than ever before. What made this possible? The survivor leaders who inspire and drive our work. The 160+ member groups at the heart of our national network. And partners like you. Click the link to see highlights from our year.
Creating an exploitation-free world starts with holding those who buy and sell other human beings accountable. This is why over 100 World Without Exploitation (WorldWE) allies traveled to Washington, DC on October 17th to stand in opposition to the “Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019.” If passed, this bill would decriminalize pimps, sex buyers and brothel owners in the District, leading to an increase in commercial sexual exploitation.
When someone has lived through gender-based violence or exploitation, what does it really take to heal? Here’s what we know for sure: True healing doesn’t happen easily. It doesn’t happen overnight. And it definitely doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in community with other survivors, and with the economic support that is necessary for any person seeking to exit “the life.” Put another way: It’s not just about survivor strength. It’s also about social support. And that’s on all of us.
In a world that too often glamorizes, sensationalizes, or minimizes the damage done to those in the sex trade, creating a counter-narrative is critical to creating change. No one knows that better than Ada Trillo, an award-winning photographer who documented the stories of prostituted Juarez women in her groundbreaking exhibition, “How Did I Get Here?”
Now & Next: The 2019 World Without Exploitation Convening will bring together a national community of coalition members and allies to explore what’s new and what’s next in the movement to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation. With a four-part focus on direct service, legal advocacy, communications & storytelling, and trauma stewardship – and an extraordinary roster of panelists and speakers - Now & Next will be both aspirational and practical.
Now & Next: The 2019 World Without Exploitation Convening will bring together a national community of coalition members and allies to explore what’s new and what’s next in the movement to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Now & Next will be both aspirational and practical, homing in on actionable ways to make our movement and our membership more effective.
This year, World Without Exploitation - the national coalition to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation – created more change in more ways and places than ever before. What made that possible? The survivor leaders who inspire and drive our work. The 135+ member groups at the heart of our national network. And people like you.
Five decades after writer and activist Gloria Steinem began raising her voice for equality while championing the voices of others, her vision feels more urgent than ever. Gloria’s life’s work and philosophy on the necessity of conversation as a catalyst for change are both timely and necessary right now. Which is why GLORIA: A LIFE – a play written by Tony Award-nominee Emily Mann and directed by Tony Award-winner Diane Paulus - is a must-see for WorldWE members and allies. On December 7th, please join WorldWE and Apne Aap for a special performance of this groundbreaking play, followed by an audience talk-back featuring actor and activist Ashley Judd.
t’s time to talk. About why, in 2018, millions of people across the globe are still being bought, sold, and exploited. About what the stories of survivors can teach us about the root causes of commercial sexual exploitation. And about how we can finally end the demand for prostituted or trafficked persons. Respectful, impassioned conversation is what our first-ever WorldWE Youth Summit was all about. Hosted at the Brooklyn Historical Society in July, this day long, youth-driven, survivor-centered event featured panel discussions, strategic storytelling workshops, and advocacy trainings for over 200 activists and artists, ages 16 – 28, seeking to engage more effectively in the fight to end exploitation.
“One is not born, but rather becomes a woman,” the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her 1949 classic, The Second Sex. Her book is a historical exploration of the ways female identity is shaped, a reminder that girls come into the world a blank slate, but don’t stay that way for very long. Brenda Myers-Powell, the founder of Dreamcatcher Foundation, an organization fighting sex trafficking in Chicago, has lived what de Beauvoir explores in print. She grew up on Chicago’s West Side, survived childhood sexual violence, and entered the sex trade at the age of 15. Twenty-four years later, Brenda finally had the courage - and the social and economic support necessary – to exit. “Most women don’t want to be in prostitution,” Brenda says. “Help them find options, and that can lead to a whole new life.”
How do we change federal law? We don’t start by lobbying. We start by listening. To survivors who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. To parents whose children’s lives have been irrevocably harmed by — and in some cases lost to — the online sex trade. And to the advocates, health care providers, and members of law enforcement who bear daily witness to the lasting damage done to those who have been bought and sold. The stories from survivor and movement allies served as the driving force behind World Without Exploitation’s fight for passage of FOSTA-SESTA. Three of those survivor leaders — Nikki Bell, Autumn Burris, and Marlene Carson — recently sat down with World Without Exploitation founding co-chair Rachel Foster, to talk about the diverse national coalition that fought for the passage of FOSTA-SESTA, how their personal stories inspired political change, and what’s next for our movement.
In every life there are key moments, from birth to childhood, when everything can change. Moments when systems and institutions - including school, foster care, housing, and law enforcement - can intervene to help a woman or girl who is vulnerable to being sexually exploited. Or, as is too often the case, fail that woman or girl. The Life Story: Moments of Change was created to deepen public understanding of this truth through the stories of those who have survived sexual exploitation. These stories bring us close - at times painfully close - to the root causes and consequences of sexual exploitation. And they challenge us to think differently about the systems and solutions we need in order to create a world where no one is bought, sold, or exploited.
The multi-billion-dollar global sex trade is being increasingly powered by the internet, where classified advertising websites make buying vulnerable human beings for sex as easy as ordering a pizza. That's why amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, by passing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, S.1693 (SESTA), is so critical. In service to that goal, on January 11th World Without Exploitation headed to Washington, DC for a rally, briefing, and lobby day.
On January 11th, join us from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm in Russell Senate Office Building - 385 for "Disrupting Online Exploitation: Why Survivors are Standing Up For #SESTA." The event will feature sexual exploitation survivor testimony, subject matter experts, and the debut of a new public service video, directed by Mary Mazzio (“I am Jane Doe”) and featuring Seth Meyers, Amy Schumer, and other allies supporting the survivor community in the fight for passage of #SESTA. “Stand Up For SESTA” is being hosted in cooperation with Senator Rob Portman.
As our country engages in a series of often painful conversations about sexual violence, exploitation, and harassment, one thing is clear: things need to change. Creating change is what World Without Exploitation - now over 110 member groups strong - is all about. When we launched our national coalition in 2016 we did so knowing that individually, we were powerful. But together, we could be a political force.
The $99 billion global sex trade is being increasingly powered by the internet, where traffickers and pimps operate with impunity, and websites like Backpage post more than 100,000 escort ads every day. Most troublingly, these websites reap profits because of, and not despite, federal law. Passage of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) will change that, striking a blow to online traffickers without limiting the free speech protected by the First Amendment. That’s why World Without Exploitation – and dozens of our member groups – are actively working toward passage of SESTA. We hope you’ll join us in our fight.
The testimonies of those who have survived sexual exploitation and human trafficking are the driving force behind our World Without Exploitation work. Credible research and statistics can help us to contextualize those survivor stories. In service to that goal, World Without Exploitation recently undertook a project both simple and ambitious in scope, surveying and assessing a large body of U.S.-based research on sex trafficking and exploitation.
How do we change minds, hearts, and laws when it comes to human trafficking and sexual exploitation? We start by having candid and respectful conversations. In our homes. In our communities. And on Capitol Hill. With that goal in mind, World Without Exploitation recently traveled to Washington, D.C. Survivor leaders Autumn Burris, Vednita Carter, and Tom Jones spoke about trafficking and exploitation as racial, gender justice, and income inequality issues, while making it clear that this billion dollar industry is built on human pain.
When people talk about trafficking and exploitation, they often focus on its impact on those who are “in the life.” But being bought, sold, or exploited can leave wounds that linger long after someone has left the sex trade. Nikki Bell, a World Without Exploitation partner, wants people to understand that. Nikki is speaking and writing about her experiences in order to change the conversation we’re having about prostitution and trafficking.
During a moment in America’s national life when discussions about undocumented workers too often focus on building walls, rather than understanding the economic and social conditions from which people are fleeing, the stories of those who have been exploited matter more than ever.
Are prostitution and sexual exploitation harmful because pimps and traffickers are exploiting people in an unregulated industry? Or is being bought and sold inherently damaging? For World Without Exploitation partner Jennifer Gaines, the answer is clear. A survivor of the sex trade who was exploited on Backpage - the online classified website that shut down its adult section after the January release of a damning United States Senate report - Jenny is speaking out to challenge the idea that prostitution is a victimless crime.