Kohn Swift Represents Plaintiffs in Sex Trafficking Litigation

Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals are coerced into performing commercial sex through the use of force or fraud. Minors engaging in commercial sex are considered to be victims of human trafficking, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable individuals, then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to force victims to participate in commercial sex.

A wide variety of venues and businesses within the sex industry are involved in sex trafficking, including residential brothels, escort services, fake massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution.

  • In 2019, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
  • The International Labor Organization and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, estimate that there are 4.8 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.
City building with an American flag flying


A number of provisions of U.S. federal law target sex trafficking. In particular, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) gives victims in the United States the right to sue traffickers. It also allows victims to sue “whoever knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value” from the trafficking crimes committed against them. Traffickers and the trafficking enablers who helped and supported them can be sued in U.S. federal courts even if they do not live in the United States.


Courts in sex trafficking cases may award plaintiffs monetary damages. They also can award damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and punitive damages, to punish the trafficker and to dissuade future trafficking.

Most important for some survivors is the opportunity to seek justice, to hold the traffickers accountable for the horrific abuse they have endured.