The Role of the United States Military in Forced Prostitution and Sex-Trafficking World Wide

Angela Simon, Western Michigan University

Throughout history women and girls have been victims of military violence and abuse, often being used as sex slaves and/or civilian targets. There is considerable evidence that the U.S. Military today participates in "forced prostitution" and in turn plays a significant role in sex trafficking. Summarized in this paper are the results of a pilot study conducted which surveyed current and past members of the United States Military about their perceptions of soldier's use of prostitutes during times of "rest and recreation". Rest and recreation is the term the United States Military uses to refer to the down time of the troops. The soldiers surveyed in this study represent areas where the United States has had a previous historical military presence as well as areas in which it has occupied more recently. Specific areas on the survey which the author discusses in this paper include soldiers' perceptions of both the frequency and duration of such activities, the environment(s) in which these activities take place, the precautions, or lack thereof, of the military to control these activities, and any training or safeguards, official or unofficial, that the military offers soldiers in regards to these activities. Other areas on the survey which are also briefly discussed include the soldiers' perceptions of how women are treated, in general, by the military and their perceptions of participation in prostitution as they relate to the military and their perceptions of participation in prostitution as they relate to the Global AIDS epidemic and other STDs. Finally, the author briefly discusses changes to military policy that could aid in both eliminating this problem, making it safer for all parties involved until that elimination can be accomplished and discusses specific military culture practices which foster these and other related activities.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006