101 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 1337 (2011)
Sex Trafficking and the Sex Industry: The Need for Evidence-Based Theory and Legislation

handle is hein.journals/jclc101 and id is 1347 raw text is: 0091-4169/12/10104-1337
THE JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW & CRIMINOLOGY                           Vol. 101, No.4
Copyright 0 2012 by Northwestern University School of Law          Printed in U.S A.
SEX TRAFFICKING AND THE SEX
INDUSTRY: THE NEED FOR EVIDENCE-
BASED THEORY AND LEGISLATION
RONALD WEITZER*
I. INTRODUCTION
Under U.S. law, sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment,
harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the
purpose of a commercial sex act.' To be punishable, the offense must
involve a severe form of trafficking involving (1) a person under age
eighteen who has been induced to perform a commercial sex act or (2) an
adult who has been so induced by the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
Adults who sell sex willingly, with some kind of assistance, are not
considered trafficking victims under U.S. law.3 Trafficking that involves
underage persons or adults subjected to force, fraud, or coercion is a serious
violation of human rights, and the growing international awareness of the
problem and efforts to punish perpetrators and assist victims are welcome
developments.
But there is also a parallel story-a robust mythology of trafficking.
While no one would claim that sex trafficking is fictional, many of the
claims made about it are wholly unsubstantiated. This Article offers a
critique of the paradigm responsible for this mythology, a perspective that
has become increasingly popular over the past decade. This oppression
Professor of Sociology, George Washington University.  Ph.D., University of
California, Berkeley, 1985; B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1975.
1 Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 § 103(9), 22 U.S.C. § 7102(9) (2006)
[hereinafter, TVPA].
2 Id. § 103(8)(A), 22 U.S.C. § 7102(8)(A). Persons convicted of involvement in the
trafficking of adults where force, fraud, or coercion is involved or where the victim was
under fourteen years of age are subject to a penalty of a fine and/or imprisonment for any
term between fifteen years and life. For victims between the ages of fourteen and eighteen,
traffickers are subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for a term between ten years to life. 18
U.S.C. §§ 1591(b)(1)2) (2006 & Supp. 112008).
3 Consensual migration with third-party assistance is often called smuggling instead of
trafficking. For a good discussion of the differences between trafficking and smuggling, see
ALEXIS ARONOWITZ, HUMAN TRAFFICKING, HUMAN MISERY 8 (2009).

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