The spotlight of public attention has begun to shine on sex trafficking in Minnesota, triggered by concerns about connections between sex trafficking and the Super Bowl and praise for the passage of new laws that protect young people from these crimes. It is estimated that hundreds of Minnesota youth are exploited in the sex trade every year, not to mention the many adults who are victims of trafficking. Not all people in the sex trade are trafficked into the marketplace. For many, their involvement in the trade results from deeply constrained options and economic necessities. For others, it is a matter of personal choice.
No matter what brought people to the marketplace, once there, a great deal of harm is committed by traffickers and sex buyers, including emotional abuse, manipulation, sexual assault, violence, rape, and in some cases, attempted murder. But people in the trade have very little recourse to report these crimes because of widespread societal stigma and the fact that the sex trade is illegal.
The precise numbers of those who purchase commercial sex are difficult to determine because the marketplace is hidden, illegal, dangerous, and stigmatized. A recent statistically representative sample suggests that 14% of men in the United States have purchased sex at least once in their lifetime, which translates to approximately 380,000 men in Minnesota.
According to researcher Dr. Lauren Martin, the marketplace for commercial sex is both complex and multifaceted. There are no easy or simple answers.
Join us February 8 when Martin will highlight research that documents the challenging and troubling issues in our society—racism, sexism, poverty—that foster sex trading, trafficking, and the exploitation of some of our most vulnerable community members.
Lauren Martin, PhD, New School for Social Research, is an affiliated faculty member of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Director of Research at the Robert J. Jones Urban Research Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), where she leads UROC’s sex trading/trafficking and community wellbeing initiative. She is recognized nationally for her community-based action research in the area of sex trading and sex trafficking, an ongoing endeavor she initiated with community partners in 2004. Martin is the author of numerous community and scholarly publications about sex trading/trafficking as well as parenting in poverty. Using her research and writing as a foundation, she has helped to develop prevention efforts in these areas. The recent recipient of the University of Minnesota’s President’s Engaged Scholar award Martin says her personal mission is to co-create empirical knowledge in service of effective social change for justice and equity.
Follow Headliners on Facebook and Twitter: @LearningLife, #umnheadliners
Follow UROC on Facebook and Twitter: @umnUROC
Follow the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on Facebook and Twitter: @hhhschool
Headliners takes place monthly, October through May (no event in January), at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the University's St. Paul campus. Dates for the 2017−18 season are Oct 5, Nov 2, Dec 7, Feb 8, March 1, April 5, and May 3. Individual event tickets are $20. Subscribe to the series ($80) by December 7 and receive admission to five remaining events for the price of four!
Headliners tickets are nonrefundable. If you have questions, please call the Information Center at 612-624-4000.