Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is believed to be the third largest criminal activity in the world that includes forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sex trafficking.


Victims might be members of foreign countries,  but are also highly likely to be citizens of the United States.  There are no geographic restrictions.

"Here in this country, people are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves, often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay. Over the past decade, human trafficking has been identified as a heinous crime which exploits the most vulnerable in society. Among the Civil Rights Unit’s priorities is its human trafficking program, based on the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provided that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”

The biggest challenge in rescuing victims of both sex and labor trafficking is lack of awareness about this issue.

The unfortunate reality is that victims are often labeled as prostitutes or “illegal aliens” and treated as criminals.  Or they are often thought to be victims of a "huge criminal mafia or crime ring", when actually it can be as simple as a man trading his girlfriends body for money or other tangible incentives.


At least 100,000 U.S. Children are exploited in prostitution
every year in America.
(national center for missing and exploited children)

 90% of minor victims are under the control of a pimp
(shared hope, 2014)


The Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines the crime of human trafficking as:

A. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or

B. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.


This means:

  • The crime includes not only the actual buying or selling a person, but also the related acts of recruiting or enticing them, holding them captive, and transporting the victim for the purpose of exploiting them.

  • Sex trafficking includes not only prostitution but also forced participation in pornography and stripping. Anyone under 18 who is involved in these activities is always considered a victim of sex trafficking.

  • Forced labor in all other non-sexual activities is considered to be labor trafficking. Indentured servitude, debt bondage and outright slavery are still happening worldwide today in industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining, hotels and restaurants.

  • Traffickers gain control over victims and hold them against their will through tactics such as physical force, abuse and restraint, deceptive offers of employment, and serious threats. Examples include locking victims in trailers at night and any other time they are not working and traffickers confiscating the identification and immigration documents of migrants, preventing them from fleeing for fear of being treated as an illegal immigrant.


Besides the physical control that traffickers have over their victims, fear is a strong factor that keeps them from escaping. Many victims do not know what is happening to them is considered a crime and they may blame themselves for the situation they are in. Victims often come from vulnerable and marginalized populations and may not trust law enforcement to help them for social and cultural reasons.


Most Common Types
The three most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage. Forced labor, also known as involuntary servitude, is the biggest sector of trafficking in the world, according to the U.S. Department of State. Debt bondage is another form of human trafficking in which an individual is forced to work in order to pay a debt.


Sex trafficking disproportionately affects women and children and involves forced participation in commercial sex acts. In the United States, any child under the age of 18 who has been involved in a commercial sex act is considered a trafficking victim. Women and girls make up 80% of the people trafficked transnationally. Yearly, traffickers exploit 1 million children in the commercial sex trade.


Perceptions of human trafficking often involve women forced into prostitution. This is just one aspect of human trafficking. Survivors of trafficking also include men and children, and these survivors are exploited by any number of means. Victims may be forced into any of the following types of labor, among others.

  • domestic servitude • agricultural work • manufacturing • janitorial services • hotel services • construction • health and elder care • hair and nail salons • prostitution • strip club dancing


Some survivors are “mail-order” brides who believe they are going to a new country for marriage, but instead are enslaved.  All nationalities and ethnic groups are vulnerable to human trafficking. Any given country may be a source of forced labor, a place of transit, or a destination.






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