Sex trafficking victims face brutal and repeated acts of sexual violence. Siddharth Kara, author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, notes that rape is often used to initiate victims into sexual slavery (12). He describes "breaking" periods in India, since Mumbai "brothel owners [express] a preference for the girls who had already been broken. . . [t]he initiation period [is] thus a cold business decision. Break the girls first; enjoy greater profits later" (59). Kara also points out that rape, as well other forms of physical and sexual violence, can be used as punishment and to control victims throughout their entire time as sex slaves (193). In her book, The Road of Lost Innocence, Somaly Mam describes the horrific sexual abuse she endured as a sex slave in Cambodia, and writes that "the brothels have grown large and more violent. We find women chained to sewers. . . When I was young we were terrorized with snakes and heavy fists, but these girls suffer a more brutal sort of torture" (166).
While trafficking for forced labor may not have obvious connections with and does not always involve sexual violence, sexual abuse can be used as a method of control. A young woman who was trafficked to the UK for domestic servitude told authorities that she was sexually assaulted by her trafficker. According to Women and Global Human Rights, in Kuwait, "Because of the isolation and the stigma of sexual assault, most domestic workers face many obstacles and are deterred from reporting employer abuse to the authorities." Labor exploitation victims, particularly female migrant workers, are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Though human trafficking and sexual assault/abuse are different, they share similar dynamics and root causes. Understanding the intersections and connections between the two is important for addressing victims' and survivors' needs and tackling the roots of these forms of abuse. Ultimately, sexual violence and human trafficking both involve treating people as less than human, and involve using force and violence to achieve their ends.