Developing Explanations of
Child Sex Trafficking
After a thorough review of research on human trafficking, Goździak and Bump (2008a) concluded, there has been “no attempt to develop a new theoretical framework in which to comprehensively analyze the phenomenon” (p. 9). This review of the existing literature concluded that “poverty and the aspiration for a better way of life are by far the most discussed ‘push factors’ and principal reasons for explaining why women and, in particular, children are at risk for trafficking” (p. 9; see also Bales, 2007; Wheaton et al., 2010).
Beyond acknowledging poverty as a universal push factor, feminist theories have offered additional and reasoned explanations for the sex trafficking of women and girls, arguing that patriarchal gender arrangements prominent in many cultures support the victimization of girls and women (Farr, 2005; Goździak & Bump, 2008a; Hotaling, Miller, & Trudeau, 2006; Jeffreys, 2009 2010; Morash, 2006; Raymond et al., 2010). For instance, the devaluation of girls as economic burdens may lead to their abandonment by their caregivers, even the selling of girls to traffickers. Also, severely limited availability of legitimate employment opportunities for females may force girls and women into sexually exploitive relationships, as such arrangements may provide the only viable option for survival or escape from intolerable conditions (Clawson et al., 2009; Farr, 2005; Morash, 2006).