Human traffickers in Minnesota use violence in a sophisticated and systematic way to control young girls in the juvenile sex trade, according to a new study released by the University of Minnesota, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and Othayonih Research. The study’s authors said they were “surprised” by the industry’s organized approach to violence, which includes beatings, rapes, death threats and verbal abuse.
According to Lauren Martin of the University of Minnesota, the use of violence by traffickers is “strategic and has a purpose in developing girls as a product for sale . . . It degrades the girls’ sense of themselves and creates an objectification where girls devalue themselves.” Trafficking rings target vulnerable teenage girls, some as young as 13, and use extensive violence to maintain control over them. The traffickers rely on complex and “corporate” marketing strategies to sell the girls to different types of sex buyers.
The study, “Mapping the Market for Sex with Trafficked Minor Girls in Minneapolis: Structures, Functions and Patterns,” is a preliminary review of the business methods employed by juvenile sex traffickers. To compile the study, researchers examined several years of local district court and media records and interviewed dozens of individuals who work directly with victims. More research is planned on methods to disrupt and combat the juvenile sex trade.
Compiled from: Louwagie, Pam, U study documents juvenile sex trafficking in Minneapolis,The Star Tribune (September 10, 2014).