There is a strong connection between isolation and sex trafficking. During the pandemic lockdown people suffered from social detachment from everyday societal routines which left people emotionally thirsty for human interactions. Last month an article about Onlyfans a subscription based site reported that it is a platform for traffickers and sex recruitment. In less than a month the creators of the Onlyfans page which boast up to 1.25 million content users are banning sexual explicit content, having found the platform to be a source for sex traffickers to make money. The ban itself may slow the sales of independent sex workers, but will have little impact on sex trafficking and recruitment. Nevertheless, the pandemic paved the way for social isolation by using social media as a replacement.
The impact of the virus is responsible for creating one of the largest global disparities particularly among social groups, class and sectors, but its most devastating effects was witnessed among the most vulnerable groups with detrimental consequences for those individuals either at risk or exploited in to trafficking. Recently during the loosening of the measures in the U.K. young schoolchildren particularly from the Black demographic were literally being snatched off the streets in broad daylight, with little intervention from the police or media news coverage.
The lockdown saw many already financially struggling families further impacted as a result of not being able to work which created a domino effect responsible for further hardship, not being able to pay their bills pr rent, and in some cases children were going without meals without the reliance of school dinners. Closing the schools for the mass majority except emergency workers saw the introduction of school children completing online classes, further increasing the opportunity for predators to intercept.
Individuals already caught up in the framework would only see the virus exacerbate the risk of those catching it, let alone able to maintain the measures put in place regarding social distancing or mask wearing, and the statistics of those eligible to secure vaccinations are virtually impossible to obtain, creating the potential for increased cases of the virus within the wider community, putting further strain on hospitals and emergency services.
The virus has only been in existence since 31 December 2019, and there is an urgent need for a more focused approach in tackling the war on human sex trafficking as a direct response to the pandemic. It will require the full weight of all external agencies, in particular assurances from Central Government in addressing the issue of online sex predators, and creating better opportunities for those affected, inclusive of full integrated support and primary access to healthcare and community services.