Families, Relationships and Societies
An international journal of research and debate

A systematic review of family and social relationships: implications for sex trafficking recruitment and victimisation

View author details View Less
  • 1 University of Barcelona, , Spain
  • | 2 UNED, , Spain
  • | 3 University of Girona, , Spain
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

Sex trafficking is a current, severe and intense global phenomenon. Many studies have made substantial efforts to map the routes and relations between countries of origin, transit, destination, and the methods of recruitment and retention. With a focus on the role of social relationships, for this article, we conducted a literature review using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) to provide further scientific evidence of the elements and processes that push victims – primarily women and girls – into sex trafficking. The findings show that family, intimate relationships, friendships and acquaintances play a critical role in the pre-entry period before sex trafficking. Among these, family violence, abandonment and abuse emerge as severe risk factors, as well as the role of fraudulent intimate relationships. We also include additional social and individual risk factors that, together with the role of family and social relationships, have impacts on potential victims, increasing the likelihood of sex trafficking.

  • Acharya, A.K. (2009) Dynamic of gender violence and trafficking of women in Mexico: a study on monterrey city, Review of Research and Social Intervention, 24: 720, https://www.rcis.ro/images/documente/rcis24_01.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Acharya, A.K. (2010) Feminization of migration and trafficking of women in Mexico, Revista De Cercetare Şi Intervenţie Socială, 30: 1938, https://www.rcis.ro/images/documente/rcis30_02.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aghatise, E. (2004) Trafficking for prostitution in Italy: possible effects of government proposals for legalisation of brothels, Violence Against Women, 10(10): 112655, doi: 10.1177/1077801204268608.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bartels, S.A., Michael, S., Roupetz, S., Garbern, S., Kilzar, L., Bergquist, H., Bakhache, N., Davison, C. and Bunting, A. (2018) Making sense of child, early and forced marriage among Syrian refugee girls: a mixed-methods study in Lebanon, BMJ Glob Health, 3: e000509, doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000509

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cecchet, S.J. and Thoburn, J. (2014) The psychological experience of child and adolescent sex trafficking in the United States: trauma and resilience in survivors, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 6(5): 48293, doi: 10.1037/a0035763.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chisolm-Straker, M., Sze, J., Einbond, J., White, J. and Stoklosa, H. (2018) A supportive adult may be the difference in homeless youth not being trafficked, Children and Youth Services Review, 91: 11520, doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.06.003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chohaney, M.L. (2016) Minor and adult domestic sex trafficking risk factors in Ohio, Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 7(1): 11741, doi: 10.1086/685108.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Corbett, A. (2018) The voices of survivors: an exploration of the contributing factors that assisted with exiting from commercial sexual exploitation in childhood, Children and Youth Services Review, 85: 9198, doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.12.009.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crawford, M. and Kaufman, M.R. (2008) Sex trafficking in Nepal: survivor characteristics and long-term outcomes, Violence Against Women, 14(8): 90516, doi: 10.1177/1077801208320906.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dalla, R., Erwin, S. and Kreimer, L. (2018) Children of Mumbai’s brothels: investigating developmental prospects, primary relationships, and service provision, Family Relations. Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science, 68(1): 10418, doi: 10.1111/fare.12347

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • D’Arcy, K. and Brodie, I. (2015) Roma children and young people in Bulgaria: patterns of risk and effective protection in relation to child sexual exploitation, Social Inclusion, 3(4): 19, doi: 10.17645/si.v3i4.224.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deb, S., Mukherjee, A. and Mathews, B. (2010) Aggression in sexually abused trafficked girls and efficacy of intervention, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(4): 74568, doi: 10.1177/0886260510365875.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Digidiki, V. and Bhabha, J. (2018) Sexual abuse and exploitation of unaccompanied migrant children in Greece: identifying risk factors and gaps in services during the European migration crisis, Children and Youth Services Review, 92: 11421, doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.02.040.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Di Tommaso, M.L., Shima, I., Strøm, S. and Bettio, F. (2009) As bad as it gets: well- being deprivation of sexually exploited trafficked women, European Journal of Political Economy, 25(2): 14362, doi: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2008.11.002.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duncan, A.C. and DeHart, D. (2019) Provider perspectives on sex trafficking: victim pathways, service needs and blurred boundaries, Victims and Offenders, 14(4): 51031, doi: 10.1080/15564886.2019.1595241.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fedina, L., Williamson, C. and Perdue, T. (2019a) Risk factors for domestic child sex trafficking in the United States, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 23(13): 265373, doi: 10.1177/0886260516662306.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fedina, L., Perdue, T., Bright, C.L. and Williamson, C. (2019b) An ecological analysis of risk factors for runaway behavior among individuals exposed to commercial sexual exploitation, Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, 12: 22131, doi: 10.1007/s40653-018-0229-5

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Franchino-Olsen, H., Silverstein, H.A., Kahn, N.F. and Martin, S.L. (2020) Minor sex trafficking of girls with disabilities, International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, 13(2): 97108, doi: 10.1108/IJHRH-07-2019-0055

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gjermeni, E., Van Hook, M.P., Gjipali, S., Xhillari, L., Lungu, F. and Hazizi, A. (2008) Trafficking of children in Albania: patterns of recruitment and reintegration, Child Abuse and Neglect, 32(10): 9418, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.09.015.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greeson, J.K.P., Treglia, D., Wolfe, D.S. and Wasch, S. (2019) Prevalence and correlates of sex trafficking among homeless and runaway youths presenting for shelter services, Social Work Research, 43(2): 91100, doi: 10.1093/SWR/svz001.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greeson, J.K.P., Treglia, D., Wolfe, D.S., Wasch, S. and Gelles, R.J. (2019) Child welfare characteristics in a sample of youth involved in commercial sex: an exploratory study, Child Abuse and Neglect, 94: 104038, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104038.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hargreaves-Cormany, H.A. and Patterson, T.D. (2016) Characteristics of survivors of juvenile sex trafficking: implications for treatment and intervention initiatives, Aggression and Violent Behavior, 30, 329, doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2016.06.012

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hershberger, A.R., Sanders, J., Chick, C., Jessup, M., Hanlin, H. and Cyders, M.A. (2018) Predicting running away in girls who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, Child Abuse and Neglect, 79: 26978, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.02.023.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hickle, K. and Roe-Sepowitz, D. (2016) ‘Curiosity and a pimp’: exploring sex trafficking victimisation in experiences of entering sex trade industry work among participants in a prostitution diversion program, Women and Criminal Justice, 27(2): 12238, doi: 10.1080/08974454.2015.1128376

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hodge, D.R. (2008) Sexual trafficking in the United States: a domestic problem with transnational dimensions, Social Work, 53(2): 14352. doi: 10.1093/sw/53.2.143

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hornor, G. (2015) Domestic minor sex trafficking: what the PNP needs to know, Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 29(1): 8894, doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2014.08.016.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hounmenou, C. (2016) Exploring child prostitution in a major city in the West African region, Child Abuse and Neglect, 59: 2635, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.07.003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huang, L. (2017) The trafficking of women and girls in Taiwan: characteristics of victims, perpetrators, and forms of exploitation, BMC Women’s Health, 17(1): 104, doi: 10.1186/s12905-017-0463-2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Izcara Palacios, S.P. (2019) Migración y trata en América del Norte [Migration and sex trafficking in North America], Revista de Estudios Sociales, 67: 87100, doi: 10.7440/res67.2019.07

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karandikar, S., Gezinski, L.B. and Meshelemiah, J.C.A. (2011) A qualitative examination of women involved in prostitution in Mumbai, India: the role of family and acquaintances, International Social Work, 56(4): 496515, doi: 10.1177/0020872811425804.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koegler, E., Howland, W., Gibbons, P., Teti, M. and Stoklosa, H. (2020) ‘When her visa expired, the family refused to renew it.’ Intersections of human trafficking and domestic violence: qualitative document analysis of case examples from a major Midwest city, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 127, doi: 10.1177/0886260520957978.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kyriakakis, S., Dawson, B.A. and Edmond, T. (2012) Mexican immigrant survivors of intimate partner violence: conceptualisation and descriptions of abuse, Violence and Victims, 27(4): 54862, doi: 10.1891/0886-6708.27.4.548.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Landers, M., McGrath, K., Johnson, M.H., Armstrong, M. I. and Dollard, N. (2017) Baseline characteristics of dependent youth who have been commercially sexually exploited: findings from a specialized treatment program, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 26(6): 692709, doi: 10.1080/10538712.2017.1323814.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Latzman, N.E., Gibbs, D.A., Feinberg, R., Kluckman, M.N. and Aboul-Hosn, S. (2018) Human trafficking victimisation among youth who run away from foster care, Children and Youth Services Review, 98: 11324, doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.12.022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCleary-Sills, J., Douglas, Z., Rwehumbiza, A., Hamisi, A. and Mabala, R. (2013) Gendered norms, sexual exploitation and adolescent pregnancy in rural Tanzania, Reproductive Health Matters, 21(41): 97105, doi: 10.1016/s0968-8080(13)41682–8.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mehlman-Orozco, K. (2017) Projected heroes and self-perceived manipulators: understanding the duplicitous identities of human traffickers, Trends in Organized Crime, 23: 95114, doi: 10.1007/s12117-017-9325-4

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Merodio, G., Duque, E. and Peña, J.C (2020) They are not Romeo pimps, they are traffickers: overcoming the socially dominant discourse to prevent the sex trafficking of youth, Qualitative Inquiry, 26(8–9): 101018, doi: 10.1177/1077800420938881

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J. and Altman, D.G. (2009) The PRISMA Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA Statement, PLoS Med, 6(7): e1000097, doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Molland, S. (2010) ‘The perfect business’: human trafficking and Lao–Thai cross‐border migration, Development and Change, 41(5): 83155, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2010.01665.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Molland, S. (2012) Safe migration, dilettante brokers and the appropriation of legality: Lao-Thai ‘trafficking’ in the context of regulating labour migration, Pacific Affairs, 85(1): 11736, doi: 10.5509/2012851117.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moore, J., Fitzgerald, M., Owens, T., Slingsby, B., Barron, C. and Goldberg, A. (2020) Domestic minor sex trafficking: a case series of male pediatric patients, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(23-24): 1172842. doi: 10.1177/0886260519900323

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mostajabian, S., Santa Maria, D., Wiemann, C., Newlin, E. and Bocchini, C. (2019) Identifying sexual and labor exploitation among sheltered youth experiencing homelessness: a comparison of screening methods, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 6(3): 363, doi: 10.3390/ijerph16030363

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nodzenski, M., Kiss, L., Pocock, N., Stoeckl, H., Zimmerman, C. and Buller, A.M (2020) Post-trafficking stressors: the influence of hopes, fears and expectations on the mental health of young trafficking survivors in the Greater Mekong sub-region, Child Abuse and Knowledge, 100: 104067, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104067

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’Brien, J.E., White, K. and Rizo, C.F. (2017) Domestic minor sex trafficking among child welfare–involved youth: an exploratory study of correlates, Child Maltreatment, 22(3): 26574, doi: 10.1177/1077559517709995.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Okonofua, F.E., Ogbomwan, S.M., Alutu, A.N., Kufre, O. and Eghosa, A. (2004) Knowledge, attitudes and experiences of sex trafficking by young women in Benin City, South-South Nigeria, Social Science and Medicine, 59(6): 131527, doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.01.010

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pandey, S. (2014) Trafficking of children for prostitution in West Bengal: a qualitative study, Anthropologist, 17(2): 59198, doi: 10.1080/09720073.2014.11891467

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Panlilio, C.C., Miyamoto, S., Font, S.A. and Schreier, H.M.C. (2018) Assessing risk of commercial sexual exploitation among children involved in the child welfare system, Child Abuse and Neglect, 87: 8899, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.07.021.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Perkins, E.B. and Ruiz, C. (2016) Domestic minor sex trafficking in a rural state: interviews with adjudicated female juveniles, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 34(2): 17180, doi: 10.1007/s10560-016-0455-3

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pierce, A. (2012) American Indian adolescent girls: vulnerability to sex trafficking, intervention strategies, American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 19(1): 3756, doi: 10.5820/aian.1901.2012.37.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Polaris Project (2019) 2019 Statistics from the national human trafficking hotline, https://polarisproject.org/2019-us-national-human-trafficking-hotline-statistics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Puigvert, L. (2012–2015) TRATA: Trayectorias de Vida Que Alejan o Acercan a las Redes de Trata Con Fines de Explotación Sexual. [Life Trajectories that Move Away or Bring Closer to the Trafficking Processes of Sexual Exploitation], Women’s Institute. Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. Grant agreement: 15/22.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Puigvert, L. (2014–2017) END-TRAFFICKING: Cambios e Innovaciones Sociales Para la Prevención y Reducción de la Trata de Mujeres con Fines de Explotación Sexual [Changes and social innovations to prevent and reduce trafficking of women for sexual exploitation], Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. Grant agreement: FEM2013-46670-R.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raymond, J.G. and Hughes, D.M. (2001) Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends, New York: Coalition.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reed, S.M., Kennedy, M.A., Decker, M.R. and Cimino, A.N. (2019) Friends, family, and boyfriends: an analysis of relationship pathways into commercial sexual exploitation, Child Abuse and Neglect, 90: 112, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.01.016.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reid, J.A. (2014) Entrapment and enmeshment schemes used by sex traffickers, Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 28(6): 491511, doi: 10.1177/1079063214544334.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reid, J.A., Huard, J. and Haskell, R.A. (2015) Family-facilitated juvenile sex trafficking, Journal of Crime and Justice, 38(3): 36176, doi: 10.1080/0735648X.2014.967965.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reid, J.A., Baglivio, M.T., Piquero, A.R., Greenwald, M.A. and Epps, N. (2019) No youth left behind to human trafficking: exploring profiles of risk, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 89(6): 70415, doi: 10.1037/ort0000362

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rocha-Jimenez, T., Brouwer, K.C., Salazar, M., Boyce, S.C., Servin, A.E., Goldenberg, S.M., Staines-Orozco, H., Vera-Monroy, R.B. and Silverman, J.G. (2018) ‘He invited me and didn’t ask anything in return’: migration and mobility as vulnerabilities for sexual exploitation among female adolescents in Mexico, International Migration, 56(2): 517, doi: 10.1111/imig.12333.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roe-Sepowitz, D., Gallagher, J. and Risinger, M. (2015) The sexual exploitation of girls in the United States: the role of female pimps, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(16): 281430, doi: 10.1177/0886260514554292.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Salazar, M. and Vega, D. (2017) Características psicosociales asociadas a mujeres adolescentes víctimas de explotación sexual comercial ingresadas a un centro de atención en la región de Los Lagos, Chile [Psychosocial characteristics associated with adolescent women victims of commercial sexual exploitation, who entered a care center in the Los Lagos region, Chile], Revista Criminalidad, 59(3): 193214.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schwarz, C., Alvord, D., Daley, D., Ramaswamy, M., Rauscher, E. and Britton, H. (2019) The trafficking continuum: service providers’ perspectives on vulnerability, exploitation, and trafficking, Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, 34(1): 11632, doi: 10.1177/0886109918803648

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Simkhada, P. (2008) Life histories and survival strategies amongst sexually trafficked girls in Nepal, Children and Society, 22(3): 23548, doi: 10.1111/j.1099-0860.2008.00154.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sprang, G. and Cole, J. (2018) Familial sex trafficking of minors: trafficking conditions, clinical presentation, and system involvement, Journal of Family Violence, 33(3): 18595, doi: 10.1007/s10896-018-9950-y

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Twis, M.K., Gillespie, L. and Greenwood, D. (2020a) An analysis of romantic partnership dynamics in domestic minor sex trafficking case files, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, doi: 10.1177/0886260520960302.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Twis, M.K., Kirschner, L. and Greenwood, D. (2020b) Trafficked by a friend: a qualitative analysis of adolescent trafficking victims’ archival case files, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, doi: 10.1007/s10560-020-00662-8.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UN Human Rights (2000) Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations convention against transnational organized crime, www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/protocoltraffickinginpersons.aspx.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UN Office on Drugs and Crime (2020) Interlinkages between trafficking in persons and marriage, www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/2020/UNODC_Interlinkages_Trafficking_in_Persons_and_Marriage.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Varma, S., Gillespie, S., McCracken, C. and Greenbaum, V.J. (2015) Characteristics of child commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking victims presenting for medical care in the United States, Child Abuse and Neglect, 44: 98105, doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.04.004.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verhoeve, M., van Gestel, B., de Jong, D. and Kleemans, E. (2015) Relationships between suspects and victims of sex. Trafficking, exploitation of prostitutes and domestic violence parallels in Dutch trafficking cases, European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 21(1): 4964, doi: 10.1007/s10610-013-9226-2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vindhya, U. and Dev, V.S. (2011) Survivors of sex trafficking in Andhra Pradesh, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 18(2): 12965, doi: 10.1177/097152151101800201.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Viuhko, M. (2017) Hardened professional criminals, or just friends and relatives? The diversity of offenders in human trafficking, International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 42(2–3): 17793, doi: 10.1080/01924036.2017.1391106.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warria, A. (2017) Forced child marriages as a form of child trafficking, Children and Youth Services Review, 79: 27479, doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.06.024

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Williams, L.M. (2015) Police and domestic sex trafficking of youth: what teens tell us that can aid prevention and interdiction, Journal of Crime and Justice, 38(3): 297314, doi: 10.1080/0735648x.2015.1034970.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson, B. and Butler, L. (2014) Running a gauntlet: a review of victimisation and violence in the pre-entry, post-entry and peri/post-exit periods of commercial sexual exploitation, Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 6(5): 494504, doi: 10.1037/a0032977

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 University of Barcelona, , Spain
  • | 2 UNED, , Spain
  • | 3 University of Girona, , Spain

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 81 81 81
Full Text Views 26 26 0
PDF Downloads 23 23 0

Altmetrics

Dimensions