We employ a rational choice framework to understand the conditions under which sex traffickers allow their victims access to telecommunications devices while under their control. We posit that sex traffickers are rational actors who make calculated decisions regarding whether to allow their victims access to the Internet and cell phones.
We hypothesize that sex traffickers allow younger victims and those they did not defraud in the recruitment process greater access to telecommunications devices because these decisions maximize their payoffs with minimal risk. In order to test these hypotheses, we deployed a survey to victims of sex trafficking in the United States to learn about how they were recruited by their sex trafficker and the level of access they had to technology while under their sex trafficker's control.
We find support for all of our hypotheses. The have serious implications for criminal justice policy and practice. The TVPA defines severe forms of sex trafficking as sex trafficking that involves force, fraud, or coercion or sex trafficking of a person younger than 18 years of age. A broader conversation around victimization is beyond the scope of this paper.
However, for reasons the victimization frame is problematic see Weitzer Weitzer, R. The social construction of a sex trafficking: Ideology and institutionalization of a moral crusade. Politics and Society35 3— Female prostitution and victimization: A realist analysis.
International Review of Victimology21 185 — Understanding crime displacement: An application of rational choice theory. Criminology25 4— Causes of delinquency.
On the compatibility of rational choice and social control theories of crime. In Cornish, D. The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending.
Berlin : Springer-Verlag. Once in the commercial sex economy, sex traffickers are focused on maximizing profits and assessing risks Dank et al. Estimating the size and structure of the underground commercial sex economy in eight major U. Urban Institute1 — However, there are numerous factors that influence the decision to enter the commercial sex economy in the first place, including family experience, neighborhood context, mentorship, recruitment by women, or drug dealing Dank et al. Due to the dearth of literature on the motivations of sex traffickers, especially regarding their decisions about how to run their business operations, we use extant literature that is available to derive the game theoretic model of pimp behavior.
One study finds that among the strongest stereotypes adolescents attribute to sex traffickers is the ability to manipulate and exert power over their victims Staiger, Staiger, A. Symbolic Interaction28 3— In the future, the non—digital native generation will vanish in the developed world and age may no longer determine adeptness at technology, but for the present study, age remains an appropriate theoretical consideration. We have no data on the participation rate from the service providers.
We did not ask them how many declined participation.
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Play the pimp
s Published online: 29 Nov Keywords: sex trafficking pimps rational choice technology access. Notes The TVPA defines severe forms of sex trafficking as sex trafficking that involves force, fraud, or coercion or sex trafficking of a person younger than 18 years of age. This study has been approved by IntegReview, an independent review board.
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