Commercial sexual exploitation

There is similar exploitation and violence in all forms of commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution, pornography, and human trafficking. Below, we have gathered facts that we hope will provide some helpful insights about commercial sexual exploitation and its devastating consequences.


”I was not challenging the negative self-image I had been raised with and had carried with me all my life. Of course it caused me much suffering in the longer term, but at that time, in a sense, it was easier to accept that it would not be possible for me to assimilate into society than to set about the very frightening task of accepting my own potential.”

- Rachel Moran, survivor of prostitution, in Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution

The word "prostitute" is derived from the latin word prōstituere, which means to be ‘exposed publicly, offered for sale.’ This implies that someone is set on display to the public eye, like an object in a shop window, with the purpose of being examined and sold to whoever is prepared to pay the price. The word quite accurately describes what those in prostitution face. And in prostitution, it is not just one’s body that is for sale—it is the person’s entire self.


Human trafficking for sexual purposes

“I’ve been held down like a piece of meat while monsters disguised as men violated me again and again.”

- Gladys Lawson, Blood Borne Connections

Typically, when we hear the word ”slave”, we think of the transatlantic trade that was abolished 200 years ago. However, more people today are enslaved in human trafficking, what many refer to as modern day slavery. Human trafficking for sexual exploitation occurs when individuals use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into commercial sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is driven by the demand--men's demand to buy access to (almost always) women's bodies and do what they please with them. This demand is the reason why this horrific reality exists--without the demand, there would be no supply. Human trafficking is the fastest growing type of organized crime, and the most profitable alongside weapons and drugs.



"Pornography really is prostitution on screen… The traffickers are the same, the pimps are the same. They just have a camera in the room. The women and girls, and men and boys, are the same victims that are being sold in the sex trade.”

Taina Bien-Aimé , Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

Many mistakenly believe that "pornography isn't prostitution, it's just fantasy." Women exploited in pornography production suffer the same adverse antecedents as those in other prostitution, including poverty, childhood sexual abuse, and racism. Pornographers use the same coercive and insidious tactics as other pimps and traffickers to recruit, groom and exploit their victims. In pornography, women are subject to physical and psychological harms that are the same as those harms in other prostitution. Pornography is simply filmed prostitution, and yet there is unique harm when one’s humiliation, abuse and exploitation is documented and infinitely circulated online...