The media and general public often tell stories about women involved in the escort industry being exploited and victimized. However, while this may be true in rare occurrences, the escort industry is populated with women who make their own choices and pursue their profession as a career choice, much like they would to be an accountant or marketing specialist. However, the human sex trafficking industry is exploitative, violent and torturous for its victims.
Each year, according to United Nations statistics, over 2.5 million people are victims of human sex trafficking. It’s a $32 billion dollar industry that continues to grow, especially in the organized crime sector. The largest and the fastest growing human trafficking market is, unsurprisingly, the beacon of liberty, United States. No socio-economic class, race or religion seems to be exempt from involvement, and many trafficking rings exist under the public’s noses in unsuspected homes and businesses.
The escort industry is much different than the sex trafficking business in many ways, including:
- People in the escort industry can choose to enter the career. Whether they are given the opportunity through chance meetings with potential clients or learn about opportunities from a fellow escort, people make conscious and deliberate decisions to become escorts. They are not exploited into their choices, nor are they threatened with violence. They make informed, researched choices about their careers. Victims of human sex traffickers don’t get to make their own choices. They are transported far from their homes, stripped of their identification and money and forced to perform sexual acts with clients under coercion. They may be threatened with violence, emotional tactics and financial methods. Drugs are also used to control human trafficking victims.
- The fees charged by escorts are significantly higher. Escorts commonly charge $200 or more per hour, with a two-hour minimum, for their services. They command such rates because of their beauty, charm, education, social skills and discretion. They are experts at what they do and provide full-service pleasure to their clients, taking their minds off their worries and concerns. It’s a release from reality, providing a fantasy world for a short time for clients. However, clients of human trafficking victims often pay much less, and the encounters are much different. They are based on sexual acts, not on the experience. They aren’t paying for a woman’s education or conversational skills.
- Escorts are well-educated and sophisticated. They are worldly, cultured and capable of taking care of themselves through their experience in life. However, victims of human trafficking are often the opposite. They are inexperienced, naive and uneducated. They become victims partially because of their innocence and inability to take care of themselves. Victims fall prey to traffickers who are more worldly and can coerce young people to do things they don’t want to do, all with the promises of a little bit of money or drugs in the future. Victims are unequipped with skills to take care of themselves, especially when emotionally trained to believe they are incapable of leaving and surviving.
- Escorts manage themselves or work through legitimate agencies. Rarely do they work through a pimp. The majority of escorts are independents; they market themselves, set their own rates and book their encounters. Others who work through agencies are not coerced into activities and work as independent contractors, abiding by rules and schedules mutually agreed upon. Even if an agency isn’t always the best to work for, escorts are entitled to quit at any time and may freely make their own decisions. However, trafficking victims are often managed through an organized crime ring or a single pimp. The victims are led to believe that they have no choices and must do what they are told at all times, ranging from where they live to who they talk with. Coercion and threats are commonplace in trafficking situations.
- Escorts can turn down clients they don’t want to see. Through their communication process or even as they arrive, escorts may decline an encounter with a client based on rudeness, disrespect, appearance, an uneasy feeling or any other reason she deems fit. This is not the case for trafficking victims. They are forced to engage in activities with assigned clients or face the wrath of their pimps or owners. Punishment and violence are the result if a trafficking victim refuses a client. They have no freedom to make their own choices or to say no.
- Human sex trafficking victims are often younger than escorts. To be successful and avoid trouble with the law, escorts must be 18 years of age or older. Many of them are much older and maintain successful careers into maturity. It’s very common to find a 30- or 40-something escort who is popular with clients. Many human sex trafficking victims are underage. It’s common for children to be 12 or 14 years old when they are kidnapped or lured into the trafficking industry. They are younger, more innocent, naive and trusting and need someone to take care of them. Clients who encounter extremely young providers through an agency should really wonder if they are willingly engaging in the industry.
- Escorts often utilize incall locations for encounters with clients. Escort incalls are usually well-decorated, cozy and represent upscale tastes. They are reflections of the escort and what she represents to her clients. Her incall is just one more element in an escort’s branding strategy. However, trafficking victims usually go on outcalls with clients. If clients do visit an incall location, it is usually a brothel set-up with sparsely-furnished and poorly-decorated rooms. Often, locks can be seen on the outside of the room doors and conditions are less than clean.
- Escorts put considerable emphasis on the screening process. They put a lot of work into determining if a new client is a safe risk by learning about his full name, employment, residential address and other details that will help them research his background. They double-check the information they’ve been given and will set up an encounter once they are convinced that the client is not a security concern. However, human trafficking victims see anyone that offers their bosses money for time with them. The screening process is abandoned, except to ensure that the ring won’t be reported to the authorities. Clients can be dangerous felons, drug users and abusive sickos; it doesn’t matter as long as the ring gets their money.
- Victims of human sex trafficking usually have physical indicators of abuse. Visible injuries that lead you to believe they’ve been beaten or tortured are present. Cigarette burns, ligature marks, branding or scars and malnourishment are common signs of a woman (or man) who has been held against her ( or his) will and forced to do unspeakable things. Escorts, on the other hand, are usually free from bruises or any injuries. They attempt to keep themselves in as good of physical condition as possible, so they can appeal to clients in the best ways possible. While injuries may occur, escorts usually present themselves as being well cared for and high-maintenance. They are in shape, their hair is healthy and their skin glows.
- Escorts aren’t afraid to communicate. In fact, they are expert communicators. Their conversational skills, ability to draw out a shy client and methods to make awkward small talk seem smooth are traits valued by clients. They learn to discuss nearly any subject with the appearance of some knowledge and can transition any encounter from casual interactions to intimate embraces. However, victims of human sex trafficking are often afraid to talk to anyone, including clients. They avoid conversation, refuse to share details about themselves and resist talking about anything besides the activity at hand. They have been threatened with their lives or other coercive measures and are afraid to interact too extensively with anyone. Their abilities to seek out help are stunted by their fears of retaliation by the criminals who control them.
If you see an ad on Skipthegames.com that reeks of exploitation or human trafficking, please report it immediately.
Overall, the differences between the escort industry and the human sex trafficking industry are broad, despite media’s attempts to link them.
Truly, the only real connection they have is that escorts are as concerned about the victims of human sex trafficking as the rest of the humankind. They want to help stop the abuse and exploitation of young men and women who are trapped in the trafficking world and encourage clients and agencies to assist in all legal efforts to thwart criminals’ efforts to destroy the innocence and spirit of these children.