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The ABC's of Trafficking: John, Labor Trafficking, and Manipulation - Renewal Forum
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No business can afford you create a product for which there are no buyers. The first step in understanding the sex industry is to understand the customers, the johns. -Joe Parker 

Johns are men who buy and sell sex. Most commonly, “johns” reference men who purchase sexual acts, however this term can also refer to pimps and brothel owners. The reason that the term “john” is used is because all types of men buy sex and therefore a stereotypical male name, john, is used to describe them. In a research study titled “Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex,” Melissa Farley explains that this is actually a myth. Though men of all different ages, races, and religions, buy sex, johns have common “attitudes, life experiences, and behavioral tendencies that distinguish them from their non-buying peers in socially and statically significant ways.” In this study 101 sex buyers were compared to 100 non-sex buyers. It was found that sex buyers were more likely to commit a crime, rape a woman, and use pornography. It was also reported that men who buy sex more commonly learned about sex from pornography. Many of the men who bought sex began with using pornography and it escalated to strip clubs, lap dances, and buying sex.

A Newsweek article entitled “The John Next Door” summarizes the findings of Farley’s study and discusses the implications of it. This article concludes with the fact that most (99%) of the study and focus of prostitution is on the prostitute, however, if we want to end the sexual exploitation of women and children we must focus on eliminating the demand for it. This article highlights the fact that men play a vital role in the elimination of sexual exploitation explaining that silence about the issue is as hurtful as the violence. For more information on how men specifically can take a stance against sexual exploitation visit: “A Call to Men” and “The Epik Project”.

Labor Trafficking

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines Labor Trafficking as:

The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or serviced through the use of force, fraud, coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center cites three forms of labor Trafficking: Bonded labor, Forced labor, and Child Labor. Bonded labor is the same as debt bondage explained in an earlier post. Forced labor is a situation in which the victim is forced to work due to the threat of physical or emotional punishment. Forced labor includes but is not limited to domestic servitudeforced agricultural labor, sweatshops, forced service industry labor (restaurant industry and hospitality industry), strip club work, and forced beggingChild labor is where a trafficker forces, coerces, or frauds a minor (under 18) into a working situation that is unsafe (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) or unfit for a child to be doing. There are many forms of child labor around the world: prostitution and pornography, domestic work, armed military service, agricultural work, factory work, and organized crimes (drug, people, and weapons trade). Children can be as young as 5 years old in the United States.

Labor trafficking is not something that just happens on foreign soil. Each of these forms of labor trafficking can be found in the United States. Exemplified here, is a report from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers reporting slavery in the agricultural sector of Florida.


Explained in previous posts, traffickers prey on the most vulnerable people in society. Traffickers manipulate victim’s venerable conditions in such a way that benefits the trafficker and produces a profit. For example, many of the young women whom are trafficked into prostitution in the US come from low income and troubled households. Pimps take advantage of these young girls vulnerable state and promise to provide financially and emotionally for the girls as long as they will sell their bodies for sex. Many young prostituted girls refer to their pimp as “daddy” or “boyfriend”; this is because the pimp has promised to fulfill the victim’s need for love, security, and affection in return for work. When a victim is being manipulated they are unaware that they are being taken advantage of; some victims truly believe that their trafficker is actually taking care of them. This can make it very difficult to help victims escape from a trafficking situation because they have formed a strong and dependent (emotional, physical, and physiological) bond with their trafficker.


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