Sex Trafficking

Beauty School Syllabus Now Includes Human-Trafficking Awareness Training

In Ohio, learning to spot the "signs" of human trafficking is now a requirement for cosmetology licenses.


Samantha Steele/Flickr

Cosmetologists are the latest to fall prey to human-trafficking hysteria. Convinced there's some sort of sex-trafficking epidemic happening—or at least invested in making it appear that way—federal officials have been enlisting everyone from flight attendants to strippers to hotel staff for training on how to spot the "signs" that someone is being forced into prostitution or other labor. Now, Ohio authorities have made human-trafficking awareness training a must for anyone who cuts hair. 

"They're maybe looking to us because we tend to become really good friends and close with many of our clients," Pamela Voisard, a barber and cosmetologist, told Ohio's 10 TV. 

Call me crazy, but I don't see sex-trafficking victims getting their hair and makeup done frequently. But despite the utter illogic of the proposal, Ohio's State Cosmetology Board recently approved a requirement—pushed by the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force—that human-trafficking awareness training become a mandatory part of obtaining a cosmetology license. Those already possessing a license have until January 2017 to complete the new training. 

According to the head of the state cosmetology board, Christopher Logsdon, the training will cover "the signs and indicators of trafficking" as well as how to "direct any tips of suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking hotline"—a government-funded but privately run hotline which is becoming increasingly mandatory to post in places of business. 

A lot of people will say something like, "who cares? It's only an hour long training session. How can spreading more awareness to more people be bad?" Let me count the ways! 

1. Occupational licensing is already a scam, and it hurts the poor the most.

In order to get a state permission slip to make a living, people who want to cut hair, paint nails, give ghost tours, or any other number of other things must fork over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars and spend many hours learning skills that, in many instances, aren't even applicable to their jobs. This can be a barrier to entry for anyone, but especially for low-income individuals. Yet should they forgo the state permission slip, they face not only losing their jobs or businesses but also being fined. Anything that adds more time, expense, and effort to the occupational licensing process without a direct relation to consumer safety should not be allowed. 

2. It diverts resources that could go to actually helping trafficking victims.

Many of the efforts directed against human trafficking these days are of the "awareness raising" variety. A recent report commissioned by the Department of Justice found that after increased criminalization, the biggest portion of state anti-trafficking effort goes toward awareness-raising. But developing and disseminating all those posters, brochures, stickers, and training modules isn't free. It takes up staff time and, more importantly, state money. So if the government is going to devote funds to anti-human trafficking efforts, wouldn't it be better spent on strategies that actually make an impact?

The top things victims' advocates say would make a difference are more beds at emergency shelters and more programs to help sex- and labor-trafficking victims find jobs and temporary housing once they're free. These are the areas U.S. anti-trafficking efforts routinely neglect, however, in favor of more extensive criminalization of consensual sex and making sure every gosh darn makeup artist, hotel maid, and airport-hamburger-slinger in America gets woke about how someone's shabby luggage or refusal to make eye contact probably means they're a sex slave. Which brings me to… 

3. It's all part of a massive, coordinated (and dangerous) propaganda push.

Yes, I know, this is where I start losing people—propaganda? Please. Libertarians, SMDH. But what else would you call factually untrue, government-sponsored information in service of political goals? I've been following anti-trafficking awareness efforts for a few years now, and the primary motif is "educating" people about four things:

  1. human trafficking is everywhere, including in your own backyard; 
  2. it's getting worse; 
  3. much of what people think of as prostitution is actually human trafficking; and 
  4. even when sex workers say they aren't victims, they actually are, because women don't have agency they're just too brainwashed by an evil pimp to admit it or they may now be working on their own but only because they were forced in originally, at a young age, and it's all they know. 

These are the major tenets of every trafficking awareness program I've seen, be it aimed at school teachers or strip-club owners or the men forced to attend "john schools." The statements from people who have received this training—either as quoted in the press or in conversations I've had with them personally—almost invariably say some variation on "I didn't realize it before, but now I see that (insert one of four statements above)." 

But none of those main "awareness" themes are supported by facts. Not one. And in addition to filling hairdressing training materials, they're also being used to justify an increase in the number of undercover police stings targeting adult sex workers and their clients; harsher penalties for sex workers, and their clients; an expansion of police wiretapping and civil asset forfeiture powers; expanded sex-offender registries; mandatory posting—under threat of civil and sometimes criminal penalties—of anti-trafficking awareness materials; the creation of new mandatory minimum prison sentencing schemes; increased monitoring of online speech by the federal government; and ever more taxpayer money being devoted to all of these things. 

Why would they do this? Well, my pet theory is that using the drug war to justify tough-on-crime measures has become unpopular, so officials needed a new scapegoat. Prostitution is prevalent almost everywhere, so the parameters are right—except most people these days don't much care about prostitution between consenting adults, especially when it's off the streets and out of sight. So defining all prostitution as sex trafficking has become a political necessary. But that's just one of many factors at play—anti-prostitution zealots on the right, anti-sex-work feminists on the left, the nonprofit industrial complex, and moral panics all play a role too. For a more in-depth analysis of all this backed by research and stats, see my November 2015 Reason feature on how "The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on Drugs." 

NEXT: Watch: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, And The Triumph of Independents

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Curriculum:

    (1) The economics of human trafficking.

    (2) The countries that most sex slaves come from.

    (3) How sex slaves are brought into, and move around, their host country.

    (4) How a human trafficker controls a sex slave.

    Sounds like a How-To manual to me.

    1. Finally, a class I’m qualified to teach, but it’s all the way across the country.

    2. Warty already signed up

      1. Warty is the certifying agency.

    3. Hair stylist: Where are you from, honey?

      Client: I from Thailand, is beautiful country.

      Hair stylist: Are you a slave?

      Client: Yes… I mean, I don’t speak good English.

      Hair Stylist: *dialing sex trafficking hotline*

      10 hours later on local news: We’re receiving reports that a hair salon on the west side has been shut down by authorities for sex trafficking. Word has it that 10 to 20 15 year old women from Thailand were found inside, being kept as sex slaves.

  2. It shouldn’t be too difficult to spot a woman who is in Ohio against her will.

    1. Pretty simple.

      (1) Is she a woman?

      (2) Is she in Ohio?

      That ought to do it.

        1. I have no intelligent response to that link.

          1. It was a big news story some time ago. A young woman escaped from a wannabee Warty’s captivity and this guy was the bystander she ran to for protection when she got out of the house.

            I say “wannabee Warty” because she got out of the house.

      1. (1) Is she a woman?

        (2) Is she in Ohio?

        My wife would agree with that. Born in Hawaii, grew up in San Diego then Phoenix, now stuck in Ohio.

    2. I thought Warty painted his basement windows.

      1. No, he paints his van’s windows.

        “It’s not a rape van! It’s a spy van!”

        1. Ok, either way, with painted windows, how do we spot these women who are in Ohio against their will? I say this is harder than Hugh makes it out to be.

          1. RC Dean totally called it

          2. Its pretty obvious that we need to institute house sweeps to combat this scourge.

            Since the Border Patrol and Customs agency doesn’t need a warrant within 100 miles of the border I suggest we start assigning an agent to this duty, drawing from local police agencies for the extra manpower they need.

            That’ll do as a pilot program. Then, a couple years later we can go ahead and have the SC start modifying case law by saying that people ‘no longer have an expectation of privacy in their homes therefore there’s no government obligation to respect that privacy’.

            Then we can expand the program nationwide and bring back IR cameras.

            BONUS: This will also help combat illegal immigration and illegal drug use. It also opens up opportunities to educate people about recycling and utility useage.

            1. Damn, don’t ’em any ideas!

              1. * give, don’t give ’em any ideas

  3. Nothing could possibly go wrong here. I mean, there’s no way most of the people who run afoul of this latest witch hunt will have no involvement with anything even remotely to do wtih human trafficking. That could never happen.

    1. There’s no way immigrants and women of color will bear the overwhelming brunt of false positives. No way.

      1. But that can’t be! This law is to protect those very people! It’s for their own good!

        1. come on. you can just tell by their yellow skin and slanty eyes they can’t make responsible choices for themselves. someones gotta help them, unless your opposed to help.

    2. Maybe, but the one thing it will undoubtedly do is to provide jobs for otherwise-unemployable womyn’s studies graduates.

      They can make 6 figures working for the government lecturing 20-year old high-school dropouts (who spent their entire savings for the class probably) about how they aren’t sophisticated enough to understand that all women are basically slaves.


  4. In the five years since I was desperately hoping to get a job in the State Department TIP office, the human trafficking issue has seriously gone off the fucking rails. It’s like we’re being told this is an episode of V but instead of lizard people among us in plain sight, we are surrounded by slaves EVERYWHERE.

    1. The entire country has went off the fucking rails. If the puritans were still around, they’d have to be some happy mutherfuckers.

      1. nah – if the Salem Witchhunters were around today they’d be all like ‘dude, you guys need to chill.’

      2. At this point, if the Puritans were still around they’d be saying we’ve gone off the rails and become a bunch of uptight assholes. At least they could have a nice dinner without politicizing it.

    2. Well to be fair, we are surrounded by slaves everywhere. It’s just that the shackles are hard to see because everyone is wearing them.

      1. They show up on my online W2 form.

      2. Well played, Hugh. Well played indeed.

      3. Wait…I thought we were secretly all naked, not in chains…

        1. pics?

        2. Nominally naked, except for the chains. The ball gags are still optional, however.

      4. But you said your lip/nose piercing chain was cosmetic!

        1. They are Epi, but I never said that about the scrote ring.

      5. If the shackles are hard to see, make sure to point that out in your KinkBnB review.

      6. Well to be fair, we are surrounded by slaves everywhere. It’s just that the shackles are hard to see because everyone is wearing them.

        And they’re shaped like free healthcare.

  5. Good article, ENB. Good insights. Implicitly, most people accept the NAP in their daily lives and, as the moralizing stranglehold of religion loosens its chokehold, people naturally respect transactions with mutual consent. Thus the need to paint coercion into the picture by both sides.

    No doubt trafficking happens, but we all know most working girls choose the work, even if forced by circumstance. How hard would it really be to run away or to ask a john to call for help?

    1. I would love to agree with you that most people accept the NAP, but in my own personal daily experience, I have to sadly disagree. What I find is that most people are self righteous busy bodies who want nothing more to bring down the full force of the law on you for the slightest perception of you doing something they don’t approve of, whether it affects them in any way or not. This is how we’ve got the fucked up government we have, because it’s what the majority wants.

      1. I would argue that the busybody contingent, epitomized by the asshole neighbor that calls the cops on you rather than asking you to turn down the music, represents a minority. A loud and insistent minority, but still a minority.

        1. “the asshole neighbor that calls the cops on you rather than asking you to turn down the music” – Wow I’m glad I don’t live next to you.

        2. used to be, definitely, a minority, not too long ago. but lately I see it all the fucking time, and in fact have people act astonished and treat me like it’s the crasiest, stupidest fucking thing in the world when I suggest oh you’ve got this problem with your neighbour? go talk to him about it. It’s stranger since if you go talk to your neighbour, there is a chance of the problem being abated; wheras if you call the authorities in, it’s unlikely they will do anything but make things worser. And how often is something like this actually cause for having someone beaten or killed? If an offense is not grave enough to justify the use of lethal force under the right circumstances, it shouldn’t be a criminal matter. And if force is to be effective, it must have the potential of becoming lethal force when necessary.

      2. No, I think there’s some level of implicit acceptance that must occur for a person to manage to get through one day to the next without choking to death, but explicitly there’s total rejection by almost everyone. And it seems that the level of implicit acceptance tends to be the bare fucking minimum for survival. This problem is aggravated by a social structure that will permit a person to skip the NAP more and more without dying in the immediate future therefor. Most people will adamantly insist that they don’t have free will, for fuck’s sake.

      3. I disagree. What are the 1st things children are taught? No hitting. Don’t take or break other people’s things. No sissy or duty on the floor. “Please” & “thank you”.

    2. I used to think people were crasy for getting upset that God wasn’t fixing all their problems for them and even protecting them from the consequences of their own stupidity. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the widespread belief nowadays that the government can and should be removing all difficulties from life. At least God was postulated to be omnipotent (though I think it’s going overboard to say that an omnipotent being could fix all problems caused by a population of free agents, except by killing them all, like with a huge flood). I remember professors at school that used to argue that God did not exist because he didn’t make all the sadness go away, and then in the next breath demand that the government should make all the sadness go away. It’s weird how the theological development of Western philosophy was moving steadily toward higher intellectual planes and then all of a sudden it seemed to drop of some kind of summit and now it’s all struggling round in the bowls of totemism.

  6. In order to get a state permission slip to make a living

    That’s the worst part of this, the courts have ruled that if the legislature can think up just about any old flimsy excuse they can to justify it, they can make you get a license or a permit for damn near anything. And now, how are we going to keep an eye out for the sex slaves if we don’t keep an eye on the people who are supposed to be keeping an eye out for the sex slaves? The licensing practically becomes self-justifying. We need to license these people so that we know who all’s getting a license might be a final step, but it’s a short step from here.

    1. Dude, what? Is that English?

      1. No. It’s a specialized form of Bureaucratese, commonly known as committee colloquialism. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to pick up via immersion – infectious, almost – and you’ll be getting plenty of practice soon. Soon.

  7. So the “war on sex trafficking” is now hitting FULL RETARD “war on drugs” levels. We have the roping in of unwilling non-government employees into enforcement, vastly overblown “signs” of the hated/feared activity, and near-panic levels of concern about something that no one can actually prove is a problem.

    So, just like the WOD bullshit, I’m sure this will end well and no innocents and non-violent “offenders” will be caught up in the meat grinder.

    1. Paranoid, baseless hypersensitivity of this nature tends to reinforce people’s fearful preconceptions, and they begin to fabricate signs of danger, and the patterns that would follow, in their minds.

      It’s akin to stumbling around a crowded street, observing frowns on cellphone-wielding pedestrians’ faces, and being entirely convinced just by their visible dissatisfaction and unhappy demeanor that they’re being coerced by a sniper-hitman on the other end of the line to rob banks and shoot hookers.

      1. “stumbling around a crowded street, observing frowns on cellphone-wielding pedestrians’ faces, and being entirely convinced just by their visible dissatisfaction and unhappy demeanor that they’re being coerced by a sniper-hitman on the other end of the line to rob banks and shoot hookers.”

        The simile is so close to the truth it’s scary. I’ve heard a lot of folks saying almost exactly the same thing in earnest. Fuck, over the years, I’ve had a lot of people approach who were convinced that my wife and I were in an abusive relationship based on random superficial trivialities they’d observed. Strangely, it seems like it’s split about half and half whether they approach me thinking she’s abusive or approach her thinking I’m abusive, which probably means we musb doing it right. More generally, I’ve noticed people get really agitated if they hear one of us council the other not to be stupid, which is bizarre since one would think this is universally good and helpful advice and that you should be able to trust someone who was contractually obliged to love you to point out any caltrops or man holes of stupidity before you stumbled yourself into one.

      2. But then I don’t think most people got it drilled into their heads in morality class every day for four years that love is an intellectual decision and a habit, not a sentiment or ephemeral randomness.

    2. Next, can we expect mandatory random sex-trafficking urine tests for holders of Commercial Drivers Licenses?

  8. I think the human trafficking concern here is more of the “forced labor” variety than the “sex worker” variety, as cosmetology is one of the industries where there’s supposedly a problem with people bringing in migrant labor and then basically imprisoning them and forcing them to work as slaves.

    1. Yes, that’s why it went from Global Warming “prostitution” to Climate change human trafficking. This was a broader term that encompassed people who might be in financial debt to someone who brought them into the country, and are working off that debt.

      1. Should indentured servitude be legal in Libertopia? Discuss.

    2. But that’s bizarre, asking people to look for signs of forced labor in their own small-biz workplace! How likely would it be that people wouldn’t know whether others in their shop were slaves?

  9. DB: “even when sex workers say they aren’t victims, they actually are, because women don’t have agency they’re just too brainwashed by an evil pimp to admit it or they may now be working on their own but only because they were forced in originally, at a young age, and it’s all they know”

    Right. When it’s about sex workers, there’s no patriarchy that manipulates and oppresses women. Because sex is the thing men are least interested in.

  10. This is paranoid conspiracy crazy nonsense. People are being abused and exploited for sex and they won’t admit it because they fear their ‘pimps’ will kill them or at least not give them as much work. And paid-sex results in disease and if you are even thinking about going into prostitution or other self-destructive behavior then you may have a mental illness and need to seek treatment immediately. Also you should be on birth control at all times and never drink alcohol or take opiates. If you it even once then it will surely be your own undoing and you should go to your local 12 Step meeting where they will explain it to you in more detail.

  11. This issue must fizzle out at some point or hit a ceiling right? At least with the War on Drugs the feds could reinforce the epidemic at any moment by reaching into their hat and pulling out a drug ‘abuser’. That’s not exactly the case with human trafficking hysteria boom. The drug war and the sex trafficking issues seem to walk similar paths but they can’t be congruent, can they? Does anyone have any non inductive reason to believe that the feds will be able to prop up human trafficking at their go-to issue as the war on drugs (hopefully) dies off?

    1. Naw, I don’t see it replacing the WOD, but it should be good for a decade’s worth of jobs, budgets, and throwing people in prison.

    2. For some reason, man trafficking hysteria seems to be able to obtain and hold traction with a lot of people without any legitimate victims ever being shown to have existed.

    3. No, but it must be tempting because of the growth potential, w so many more people wanting sex than drugs.

  12. Call me crazy, but I don’t see sex-trafficking victims getting their hair and makeup done frequently.

    Ah, but sex-trafficking *perpetrators*, OTOH, ?.

  13. Is there a Human Trafficking Awareness web site were I can post anonymous tips to ruin the lives of people I don’t like?

    “My boss, Mr. ——, constantly brags about the twin blond 12 year old Russian sex slaves that he keeps locked in his basement.”

  14. This “War on Human Trafficking” is real but the next big “War on X” will actually be the “War on Speech”. Basically the various woodchippers will say increasingly nasty and offensive things until everyone says, “Why these woodchippers are saying such nasty and offensive things that could incite someone to violence. They must be muzzled!” And that’s how they did it in Europe and that’s how they plan to do it here. You’ve been warned.

    1. Seems to me more like they gearing up for a war on thought.

  15. Honestly the biggest issue here is that “cosmetology licenses” exist. These are exactly the type of things that can stand in the way of poorer people who never made it through school using their talents to get ahead and possibly get off welfare and make a life for themselves, as well as make things more expensive for people by artificially restricting supply. I’m sure if I proposed getting rid of them I would have total support from the type of people who pride themselves on sticking up for the “oppressed and marginalized” right?

    1. What are you talking about, the cosmos, and meteors, are complex matters well-worth inquiring into. Considering the degree of sophistication and dangers involved a license seems prudent.

      1. I’m sure the government talismans will ward off the evils of an impending meteor or a bad haircut with equal effectiveness.

  16. When free agency is outlawed, only criminals will have free agency.

    The other oppressive thing is city business licenses. I remember at one point I checked and they ranged from fifty to three hundred dollars, depending on the type of business. The basis for the licensing fee existing is that it puts a certain amount of cost on the city and that it gives special services to businesses and their appurtenances. When I questioned how this could justify variable fee scale that was not in any way related to the size of a business or how much infrastructure it used (in many cases, extremely small businesses placing no burthen on the infrastructure had the highest fees), they justified it on the basis of desirability, that certain businesses are more desirable to have and so they make the license fees for less desirable businesses more expensive to discourage commerce. It’s curious how the state arbitrarily treats business categoricly as an economic drain or an economic benefit, depending on which view supports whatever action the state agents are doing at the time. I don’t know the numbers, but it seems that legitimate business would always be to the economic benefit of the community and result in more taxes coming in. As such, it would always be to the economic benefit of the state to refrain from interfering.

    1. More bad boys. It’s what feminists want.//

      As long as there are sufficient products to substitute, subsidization (of branches) is not an immediate problem. It is mediately – beyond taxes – because it creates uncertainty and limits creativity, thereby reducing welfare.

  17. Up to I looked at the draft which was of $7319 , I be certain …that…my neighbour was like they say realie receiving money part time at there labtop. . there moms best frend started doing this less than and just paid the mortgage on their apartment and bought a gorgeous Lexus LS400 . site here……..

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ???? ? ? ?

  18. My roomate’s sister makes $86 an hour on the internet . She has been without work for 5 months but last month her pay was $17168 just working on the internet for a few hours. linked here…..
    Clik this link in Your Browser……..


  19. before I looked at the receipt of $thirty thousand , I have faith …that…my cousin woz like they say realy receiving money in there spare time at their computer. . there dads buddy haz done this for only about 14 months and just repaid the mortgage on their place and got themselves a Honda . try this …………..

    — A?l?p?h?a-C?a?r?e?e?r?s.c?o?m

  20. “You must not contact the INS or ICE if you suspect the owner is part of a human trafficking cabal. Leave the immigrants out of this, you xenophobe”

  21. I’m sure all women want to be scrutinized as possible sex-trafficking victims while making casual conversation with their stylists.

    1. I want them to make a reality tv show out of the hotline calls from hairdressers.

      “No, I’m POSITVIVE that new-hire is a ho, you should see the shorts she wears, cooch all hanging out…the other day I saw her chewing gum with her mouth open talking to this navy guy who I went out with a few times and that bitch knew I had the inside track and he also used to date Rhonda and she was all rubbing up on him and you could just tell she was selling it…”

  22. i wont even read about this nonsense. it is totally insane that you need a license to do someone’s hair but any 16 year old with two arms (there’s a one armed cook at a diner near my folks’, so that’s actually optional) could be making that food you’re about to put in your body. im not saying we should regulate restaurants more (hopefully obviously), its needing a license to do hair that’s insane.

  23. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do..
    Clik This Link inYour Browser….

    ? ? ? ?

  24. good iphone app was produced a prolonged period ago and Kodi Download iPhone the .exe data file on your home pc and manage it Kodi Free Download nice.

  25. good Television set displays, Videos and clips. Mobdro Install Mobdro Chromecast No cost clips from around the web nice.

  26. The technology is so developed that we can watch videos, live streaming, TV serials and any of our missed programs within our mobiles and PCs. Showbox
    All we need is a mobile or PC with a very good internet connection. There are many applications by which we can enjoy videos, our missed programs, live streaming etc.

  27. good Version gives additional attributes like Capturing Streams mobdro download app in between of viewing some videos or browsing best.

  28. present in the play store where you can download and install ACMarket App also video games in their cracked variations. Currently.

  29. merely download. It might be depending on the gadget and also app version. check your get in touch with publication for all individuals.

  30. Streams online that you could appreciate on your Play Store. In order to get this application you.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.