The Sins of a Nation: Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in Liberia


By Jerry M. Barcon

According to the definition formulated by the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, that “trafficking in persons means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons either by threat or use of abduction, force, fraud, deception or coercion, or by the giving or receiving of unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having the control over another person for exploitation” (Martin & Miller 2000)

Liberia sadly, is gradually becoming a source transit and destination country for children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Most victims are trafficked within Liberia, primarily from rural areas to urban areas for domestic services, forced street vending, and sexual exploitation. Children are also trafficked to alluvial diamond mining areas for forced labor. Refugees and internally displace children in Liberia have been subjected to sexual exploitation by some international organization and Non-go.

The Government of Liberia demonstrated limited enforcement efforts to combat trafficking in 2008. Liberia’s 2005 Act to Ban trafficking prohibits all forms of trafficking. No trafficking have been convicted or sentenced under this law. The law presents a minimum penalty of one year imprisonment for labor trafficking of adults, six years imprisonment for sex trafficking of adults, five to 11 years imprisonment for child labor trafficking, and 11 to 16 years imprisonment for child sex traffic (Htt://sn.wikipedia/wki/human).

Few analysts dispute that sex trafficking, the purchase, sale, recruitment, harboring, and transportation, transcend or receipt of a person for the purpose of commercial sex – is a serious crime with devastating consequences for its victims.

Commentators do however dispute the scope of the problem. Some claim that the problem is widespread, while others contend it as exaggerated. Since the number of these trafficked will vary depending on how broadly sex trafficking is defined, the definition of sex trafficking has become a highly contested issue, one of several controversies in the debate over whether prostitution is a serious problem.

Trafficking is person is primarily understood as the movement of person across international boundaries for a variety of forms exploitation. The crime of trafficking, of course is not essentially about the movement of the person but about the exploitation. Trafficking is the denial of freedom.

Trafficking exists in many forms, each deserving very aggressive and specific initiatives to combat it. If people of faith are to understand the nature of trafficking that is done to prostitute other, and other forms of sexual exploitation, they must address not only specific acts but also the broad range of issues that allows this form of exploitation of exit.

Trafficking is a global issue that takes root in almost every culture. In 2004 the U.S. State Department estimated that up to 18,500 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States every year. Some for forced labor and other for sexual exploitation. Estimates of the number of women and children who are trafficked across international border each year range from 800,000 to 4 million. These numbers don’t take into account these moved from rural areas to urban centers within their own countries.

In the United States alone, victims of international sex trafficking come primarily from south and southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa. They are held captive in residential and commercial sex industry businesses throughout the United States. More than 170 cases of trafficking have been prosecuted by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office since the trafficking victims protection act was passed in 2000, 131 of those cases involved sex trafficking. Those 120 defendants were convicted of sex trafficking.

Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative businesses in the world. The United Nations estimate suggest that the 4 million people moved across international borders by traffickers each year generate profits of up to US 7 billion subsequently laundered and fed into other activities including drugs and arms smuggling

More than 700,000 of those trafficked are women and children into prostitution or forced labor. Sex slaves working in Europe account for about two – thirds of this figure. Many are East European, African women and girls from impoverished rural areas who had hoped to flee unemployment, family restrictions and conflict at home for a better life abroad. Victims are recruited by boyfriends, family members and trusted female friends or through seemingly reputable employment, travel or marriage agencies. Some are as young as 13.

They may be offered jobs in fashion, tourism, housekeeping catering or entertainment, with promises of travel documents, transport, comfortable accommodation, even education. Occasionally they are kidnapped. 3about 20 percent may be aware of the possibility if becoming involve in sex related work but none expects to be enslaved.

Sex trafficking is denied and trivialized by the authorities and media in many region and the women see police not as a potential source of help but harassment. Prosecution of offenders’ priorities and corruption is right. The international community has offered few preventative initiatives and little to assistance to victim. For the victims there is no effective escape. One way to get out is to recruit others but women who do find their way home are often dragged back into the prostitution network by blackmail and threats against themselves and their families. It is a brutal fact that as public awareness raises the trafficking business becomes ever violent and dangerous.

The sex slave stories are suspiciously similar. The women are usually from some deprived back water. They have naively answered advertisements for labs as waitresses or nannies in the west. However when they arrived to start their new life. Their documents were confiscated, they were beaten and raped into submissive, and forced to become prostitutes. They then claimed to have been kept as sex slave, sometime chained to beds, terrified and servicing as many customers as the brothel owner demanded.

In the sex slave myth the recruiters scour both smooth talk and big promises. These latter-day big bad wolves were women with offers of jobs and a bright future. A freighting scenario, indeed. It just isn’t true. Contributing factors contribute to prostitution through gender bias, discrimination, poor education and poverty. For example in some communities prostitution is widely accepted.

Children of sex workers are at risk of being prostituted, homeless, runaway or abandoned children are frequently pushed into prostitution and actively recruited by pimps and traffickers. Sometimes girls are enticed or kidnapped and then forced into prostitution. In some areas developing countries, international sex tourism (travel solely for the purpose of having sex) is a significant cause of child prostitution, finally, in rare cases, families give their children to religious or tribal elder’s atonement for adult wrong doing.

Specific cause of child prostitution might differ between countries and communities. For example in part of Nigeria children fleeing abuse at home are pushed into prostitution, whereas child prostitution in Nepal is attributed in poverty, in the USA child prostitution is linked with childhood sexual abuse, in some countries such as Thailand, specific facts contribution to child prostitution differ between regions and often depend on ethnic origin tribal communities.

Poverty and the profitability of prostitution are the main factors that sustain this industry. The sex industry worldwide generates an estimated US $20 billion or more yearly, of which $3 billion is attested to child [prostitution. Prostituted children are often responsible for providing financial support to their families. Strategies to remove children from prostitution must address this issue, lest the lost income simply results in other children being pushed into sex work. Finally, these are societal costs of prostitution including adverse health effects and restricted of education.


  1. Need more experienced investigators
  2. Experienced prosecutors
  3. Awareness of sex trafficking
  4. Victims right
  5. Visit the rural areas

In Liberia and in society in general, prostitution and other sexual victimization are degrading to women and children and the Liberian Government should strive to eradicate such practices.  According to research, sex industry, the trafficking of individuals into such industry, and sexual violence are additional causes of and factors in the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

According to sources, one in nine South Africans is living with AIDS, and sexual assault is rampant, at a victimization rate of one in three women… Victims of coercive sexual encounters do not get to make choices about their sexual activities (

The Author: Jerry Barcon holds a BSc in Law Enforcement at Roger Williams University, Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security, Master of Science in Administration of justice in Leadership, Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Intelligence Salve Regina University .


  1. Seems a travesty to the illegal migrant question when so called scholars cannot inform the debate by establishing what percentage of migration from Liberia’s borders is by legal visa acquisition to foreign countries by category.

    Secondly, when you can account for legal migration with valid visas perhaps you can begin to statistically account for illegal migration and trafficking.

    A Third component to the problem is accounting for the frequency of known or alledged smugglers or human traffikers through borders and their suspected victims. Does Liberia keep data anywhere? Do you know for example how many persons with visas for USA or EUROPEAN destinations just to name a few?

    When you can account for the data annually and can see establish the patterns and cycles perhaps you would be on your way to managing the illegal migrant problems.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here