Pornography is a business globally worth $57 billion, with the United States accounting for over $11 billion. Pornography was first developed as a means to help individuals fulfill their sexual fantasies and serve as a criminal deterrent against violent crimes, but pornography has just made sex more violent. Just as the pornography industry began to flourish, a survey of U.S. college girls showed that 69.8 percent of them had been “verbally coerced” into having “unwanted sex.” And in the United Kingdom in 2006, 33 percent of all women say that they have been forced into sex. Pornography has been further exacerbated through the Internet and the emerging trend to use child victims. Statistics indicate​ that upon the legalization of pornography, emerging growth rates of failed marriages have occurred, as well as an increase in sex-related crimes.

In 2013, child pornography arrests grew by 2,500 percent. It is attributed to the demand and an impoverished supply. Families under economically desperate conditions utilize their children as vessels of income. Pornography pretends to offer economic gain to the vulnerable, many of whom are led by coercion, force or kidnapping. In general there is an issue with the way in which the poor are represented in media. The media’s use of impoverished people objectifies them, as does pornography.

Sex industry recruiters and sexual deviants alike choose from a pool of candidates who have experienced various levels of previous exploitation and remain economically desperate. In countries such as Kenya, children as young as the age of six are sold and used in child pornography. The documentary “ Working Lives” is about child sex tourism and pornography in Kenya’s coastal towns. It discusses how in Kenya, some parents send their children to have sex for foreigners for as little as one dollar.

Due to limited options, some parents choose to knowingly rent their children for pornographic or sex slave purposes. In “The Secret Child Sex Trade Hiding in Kenya’s Tropical Paradise,” viewers are introduced to a six-year-old girl suffering from signs of rape, sodomy and beatings, that occurred on film for pornographic purposes.

In the Philippines, there was a major case involving a made-to-order porn operation, with charges that include murder and torture. An Australian made a global business of using impoverished victims for sexual and violent performances based upon customer request. Here he monopolized on the poverty and was strategic when choosing the cities, local child recruiters and victims. Often, he would utilize the other poor local children to establish connections and lure in street children. The documentary “ Catching a Monster” covers methods of grooming and deviant practices to recruit the needy for pornographic use.

His youngest performer was an 18-month-old girl name Daisi, of whom he created a series of pornographic videos of her sexual abuse. All of the children used in these videos had parents that had been coerced by false promises and the opportunity to provide a better life for their children.

Many people are victims to poverty and more so generational poverty, that has passed down impoverishment from the previous generations. Many of those in vulnerable populations experience exploitation and are forced to become workers in the sex industry. For the extreme poor, many questionable work opportunities arise; pornography is one of them. Ending poverty can help to decrease victimized children in pornography.

– Erika Wright

Sources: Oh My News, Feed the Right Wolf, Huffington Post, The Crime Report,


Costa Rica is known worldwide for its rich rainforests and beautiful beaches. As a result of this scenic beauty, there is an inherent marketability from which Costa Rica benefits, especially in regards to the tourism industry. Education, health and social security are other areas in which Costa Rica has seen positive development. While regionally Costa Rica is viewed as a fairly stable and successful country, it is not without its own set of serious economic and social issues.

Economically speaking, the top 20 percent of the country’s population account for about half of the total national income. The GDP per capita of Costa Rica is just over $10,000. However, about 10 percent of Costa Ricans are living on approximately $1.25 per day. It is clear that there is a significant disparity in terms of wealth distribution. Costa Rica is also a very young country, with roughly 26% of its 4.3 million people under the age of 14.

According to UNICEF estimates, there are upwards of 280,000 children not regularly attending school or enrolled in classes. 93% of children under 12 attend school, compared to only 86% and 78% for 14- and 16-year-olds, respectively. The older a child gets, the likelihood that they will graduate from school decreases by a few percentage points. The combination of these factors indicates why approximately 9% of all children between the ages of 5-14 are working to contribute to their families’ income. The majority of these children are either working in the fields, selling wares on the streets or working from home with family members.

UNICEF estimates that there are 36,000 children living on the streets of Costa Rica. One of the reasons for this high number is because children have either been orphaned or they have left home. In 2010, the National Children’s Hospital treated 2,555 cases of violence and assault toward children. Social attitudes toward corporal punishment in Costa Rica are severely outdated, and it would appear that many children run away from home to escape this abuse. These children in particular are often distressed, hungry and afraid. Because of their desperation, they also are susceptible to being abducted into drug cartels in the local barrios. Being on the streets places children in danger of gang violence, drug trade and sexual abuse.

The child sex industry in particular is a major issue in Costa Rica, as there is a rampant sex tourism industry. The Protection Project estimates that over 5,000 people visit Costa Rica for the sex tourism annually. The majority of these tourists are coming from the United States and Western Europe. Orphaned girls living on the street are the most vulnerable to being lured into underground businesses.

The abuse comes in the form of prostitution, trafficking, and pornography. Child prostitutes can potentially earn hundreds of dollars per day, and trafficking a single child can bring in a profit of $10,000. Costa Rica also has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Central America with 0.3% of the population affected, or approximately 10,000 cases. Costa Rican street children are at particular risk.

In 2004, World Vision, an international humanitarian group, received funding from the United States to help end child sex trafficking worldwide. The organization’s strategies included using deterrent messages, law enforcement assistance, and prevention programs. In 2008, UNICEF partnered with the Law on the Right of Children and Adolescents to Discipline Free of Corporal Punishment or Humiliating Treatment. This program seeks to reform social attitudes and provide families with advocacy resources on safe child rearing practices.

Additionally, in 2009 UNICEF partnered with the Costa Rican government’s National Council for Children and Adolescents to enact the Public Policy for Children and Adolescents.The purpose of this initiative was to implement a series of educational standards and regulations for children’s rights by 2021, Costa Rica’s 200th anniversary. The government has been heralded internationally for their compliance with international standards on children’s rights.

– The Borgen Project

Sources: SOS Children’s Village International, UNICEF 1, Protection Project 1, UNICEF 2, ABC News, Protection Project 2
Photo: Latest News Link


Human Trafficking in Bangkok
According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Thailand is a “top destination for victims of human trafficking.” The majority of Thailand’s trafficking victims are voluntary economic migrants from countries like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and China. They come only for the promise of a good job.

Without documentation, knowledge of Thailand or understanding of its language, they are vulnerable to traffickers. For the same reasons, it is nearly impossible for them to escape. Many are trapped in Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok, famous for its rich history, stunning architecture and thriving sex tourism industry.

Operation Graceland began with a tip-off by an Uzbek woman trafficked into prostitution at Bangkok’s Grace Hotel and desperate to return home. What followed was a police raid, the holding of 19 women and an investigation of all involved. In the end, only two of the detainees admitted to being trafficked. They identified their abusive ‘manager’ amongst the group, but after receiving word that their families had been threatened, they spoke favorably of her in court. She was released.

In 2002, there were an estimated 200,000 sex workers in Bangkok and the trade has grown. It is a lucrative job: women and men from poor families earn money to support their relatives, finance future aspirations or live a life of previously unknown affluence.

Though many are forced by circumstance, involvement in the sex industry is considered voluntary. Because there are so many willing sex workers in Bangkok, it is difficult to identify victims of trafficking. Officers are being trained to recognize trafficked workers. Do they work excessive hours? Do they have documentation? Are they of age?

But even if they manage a rescue, it is difficult to convict the perpetrators. Gangs threaten those rescued and their families, warning them against speaking out. Some victims hope that, by cooperating with their captors, they will be released with a small share of their earnings, all of which typically go to their slavers. Still others are undocumented migrants, who fear legal retribution for involving themselves in any legal affair.

In any case, testifying is risky, since many prosecutors base their arguments entirely on hearsay and the victim’s statements. Slavers are often released and the case against them deemed unsubstantial.

The prevalence of trafficking in Thailand and the legal support for victims have not improved enough for international recognition. In June, the United States dropped Thailand from tier two to tier three on the 2014
Trafficking in Persons report.

But the Thai government is making headway. In 2013, the number of trafficking cases investigated was double that of 2012. Nearly 750 victims received some form of assistance from the Thai government: most were referred to one of nine shelters run by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. Thousands of public officers were trained on new anti-trafficking laws; ideally, they will offer victims the legal support they need and give them hope of a life once again in freedom.

-Olivia Kostreva

Sources: Bangkok Post, Time, UNIAP
Photo: Laura Leigh Parker