What is a Sex Slave?

A sex slave is an individual who is coerced into sexual practices. This may include forced prostitution, ritual slavery associated with some religious practices and sex trafficking.

Some victims of sex slavery are girls recruited into fighting forces as child soldiers. Others are women like Kika Cerpa who broke 50 years of silence over her treatment by the Japanese military during World War II.


A sex slave is a victim of sexual exploitation. This type of slavery is often combined with other types of exploitation, such as domestic servitude or forced prostitution. Most of the victims of sexual slavery are women and children. The majority of victims are trafficked from poor countries around the world to work in the sex industry in rich countries like the United States and Europe.

A sex slave can be either a man or a woman and can also be both young or old. She or he may be collared or tied up and has to follow the commands of her or his master. Slavery can be a form of punishment or it can be an experience of pleasure.

Sometimes sex slavery is used to teach obedience or as part of the fetishism of certain groups. Slavery can also be a way of gaining power or wealth for some people, especially in war or other armed conflicts.

It is important to differentiate between sex slavery and prostitution, as there is a vast difference between the two. It is like defining prostitute as someone who sells sex for money, while a sex slave is a victim of exploitation and has to be obeyed at all times. The distinction between the two is important, as there are many international criminal gangs that traffic women from poor countries for the purpose of selling them as sex slaves.

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Often, the cause of sex slavery stems from the gendered inequalities that exist in many societies. Women are at higher risk for trafficking because of this. Girls and young women can be lured to sex slavery through false promises of decent work, or they may be forced into the practice because of traditional cultural beliefs, such as an adherence to arranged marriages. In addition, conflict and war zones can lead to economic instability, which can create opportunities for criminal gangs to recruit people to become their workers or servants.

Human trafficking is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by force or fraud for commercial sex acts or labor services against their will.” In the case of sex slavery, this includes sexual acts that are performed in residential brothels, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and hotels. It can also take place on the street, in private homes or through online sex.

The profit potential for sex traffickers is high because people are willing to buy their sexual and other services. The profit-driven industry can enslave people for a long period of time, and it is rife with physical abuse and emotional trauma. Communities can help reduce sex slavery by using online tools like Slavery Footprint to learn more about the exploitation of people in their own towns and cities, buying fair trade products and survivor-made goods to support ethical production, and supporting local organizations that combat human trafficking.

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The international community has a legal obligation to prevent sex slavery, which is also known as human trafficking or modern-day slavery. According to the Trafficking in Persons Protocol to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, sex trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring of people for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor against their free will. It involves force, fraud, coercion or deception and may include debt bondage, whereby a worker is exploited to pay off an initial debt assumed or incurred wittingly or unwittingly by the trafficker or recruiter.

Many victims of sex slavery come from impoverished countries. They are recruited by people posing as employers, who often live in the same neighborhoods and have close ties to them. People can also be victimized through sex-related violence, lies or false promises of well-paying jobs.

Sex slaves are often deprived of sleep, food and water and subjected to physical abuse or threats to their lives and those of their family members. In addition, they are manipulated by grooming techniques to become dependent on their captors and reluctant to resist. The traffickers may hold a grudge against them, which makes it harder for the victim to escape. The traffickers, who are often wealthy and powerful, can be difficult to track down, especially if they travel across local or international borders.


There are many ways to prevent sex slavery from becoming a problem. One is to be well-informed. Set up a web alert to learn about the latest human trafficking news. Host an awareness-raising event where people watch a film about sex trafficking, or find out how forced labor is affecting global food supply chains.

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Another way to prevent sex slavery is to take action. Become a HERO (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) Corps member, which embeds people with law enforcement units that investigate sex exploitation cases. HEROs are “mission-driven,” as they say, and personify the idea that combating human trafficking is a noble cause worthy of our best efforts.

A common misconception about human trafficking is that it occurs in poor countries. However, most sex slaves are recruited in rich countries where they can be sold for high prices. Many victims are women and children, and some have had previous jobs that made them vulnerable to sex traffickers.

To help prevent sex slavery, lawmakers should make sure to have up-to-date laws that allow them to prosecute offenders who cross international borders. They should also ensure that victims have access to legal assistance, medical services, psycho-social counseling, and income-generating support without sex discrimination. And they should expand federal criminal jurisdiction to cover trafficking offenses committed abroad. The UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery helps sex-trafficking victims by channeling voluntary contributions to civil society organizations that provide victim assistance, including legal and other professional services.

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