The War on Syrian Girls 223
victims of forced labor.40 The United Nations Women Director, Michelle Bachelet, publicly
stated that "80% of all trafficking victims are used and abused as sex slaves."41
A. Brief History of International Human Trafficking
Sex trafficking is different from other forms of human trafficking because of its complexity
under the current international legal system and the controversial nature of the sale of sex for
money.42 Victims of sex trafficking are often removed from their home countries and relocated
to places where they do not speak the language and/or have no outside contacts.43 This also
makes it difficult for law enforcement officers across the world to identify whether individuals
are trafficking victims or sex workers. Sex work, in contrast, is defined as engaging in sexual
acts for some form of payment.44 The issue in distinguishing a victim from a sex worker is the
highly differential treatment of sex work as a legal profession across and even within nations.45
Even in the United States, minors under the age of eighteen are often arrested for prostitution and
commercialized sex. In 2011, state and local law enforcement across the United States reported
to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that they had arrested 190 males and 581 females under
the age of eighteen for prostitution.46 This is clearly an error — a minor under the age of sixteen
years cannot consent to sex as a matter of law anywhere in the United States,47 and thus cannot
commit the crime of prostitution as a matter of law.48 Therefore, a minor cannot be charged with
prostitution nor arrested for such. The fact that the United States has erred in arresting such
victims does not bode well for foreign countries, who often have less enforcement of law and
Children are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation when they are in
unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions.49 The global sex trafficking of children, primarily girls,
is organized and industrialized, operating within and across national borders.50 This encompasses
a range of sexually exploitative activities, from stripping and pornography to prostitution, forced
marriage, and sex slavery.51 The demand for sex trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry;
where there is demand for sexual slaves, there are traffickers that will capture children as victims
and supply them to the individuals that purchase children for sex slavery, otherwise referred to as
"Johns."52 Four components comprise the demand for sex trafficking: (1) "the men purchasing
40 Lee, supra note 6, at 385.
41 Id. at 386.
42 Id. at 386.
46 Andrew Hall, The Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human
Trafficking, 56 ARIZ. L. REV. 853, 868 (2014).
47 There are also a number of states in the United States that set the age of consent at seventeen years of age, thus
rendering any minor under the age of seventeen in those states incapable of committing the crime of prostitution.
Eugene Volokh, Statutory rape laws and ages of consent in the U.S., WASH. POST (May 1, 2015),
48 Hall, supra note 46.
49 Johnson et al., supra note 3.
50 Donna M. Hughes, Combating Sex Trafficking: A Perpetrator-Focused Approach, 6 U. ST. THOMAS L. J. 28, 28-
52 George, supra note 12, at 295.