Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. ... Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

People might argue that poverty, lack of education, immigration policy, environmental conditions, fractured families, and a lack of good job opportunities are the realcauses of human trafficking.

Human traffickers recruit, transport, harbor, obtain, and exploit victims – often using force, threats, lies, or other psychological coercion. ... Often, traffickers identify and leverage their victims' vulnerabilities in order to create dependency.

Poverty, war, natural disasters and a search for a better life. Traffickers look for people who are susceptible to coercion into the human trafficking industry. Those people tend to be migrants, fleeing their homes either because of economic hardship, natural disasters, conflict or political instability.

Victims of trafficking often experience harsh physical impacts due to excessive work or the use of force by traffickers. In addition, victims may be exposed to serious health risks, such as HIV/AIDS, as well as serious mental health risks. Anxiety, insecurity, fear, and trauma are all products of trafficking.

Top 5 Causes of Human Trafficking

  • Poverty, war, natural disasters and a search for a better life. ...
  • Women and children are targets. ...
  • Demand for cheap labor. ...
  • Human trafficking generates a huge profit. ...
  • Cases of human trafficking are difficult to identify.

Between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. each year. Human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking). It reportedly generates a profit of $32 billion every year. Of that number, $15.5 billion is made in industrialized countries.

They lure and ensnare people into forced labor and sex trafficking by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. Human traffickers prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual or physical abuse.

According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers.

Below are some of the most commonly reported forms of human trafficking and modern slavery.

  • Sexual exploitation. This is when someone is deceived, coerced or forced to take part in sexual activity. ...
  • Labour exploitation. ...
  • Domestic servitude. ...
  • Forced marriage. ...
  • Forced criminality. ...
  • Child soldiers. ...
  • Organ harvesting.

Major Forms of Trafficking in Persons

Forced Labor and Sexual Servitude: The Varying Forms of Human Trafficking

The hidden nature of trafficking in persons prevents a precise count of the number of victims around the world, but available research indicates that, when trafficking within a country’s borders is included in the count, more people fall victim to labor forms of trafficking than sex trafficking. Although labor trafficking and sex trafficking are usually analyzed as separate trafficking in persons issues, victims of both forms of trafficking often share a common denominator: their trafficking ordeal started with a migration in search of economic alternatives.

The theme of migration is often heard in reporting on trafficking in persons and indeed the movement of victims is a common trait in many trafficking crimes. Yet servitude can also occur without the movement of a person. In analyzing trafficking in persons issues and designing effective responses, the focus should be on the exploitation and control of a person through force, fraud, or coercion—not on the movement of that person.

Neither the international definition of trafficking in persons, as defined in the 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, nor the U.S. definition of severe forms of trafficking in persons, as defined in federal law, requires the movement of the victim. Movement is not necessary, as any person who is recruited, harbored, provided, or obtained through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, forced labor, or commercial sex qualifies as a trafficking victim.

Major Forms of Trafficking in Persons

Forced Labor
Most instances of forced labor occur as unscrupulous employers take advantage of gaps in law enforcement to exploit vulnerable workers. These workers are made more vulnerable to forced labor practices because of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, and cultural acceptance of the practice. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals are also forced into labor in their own countries. Female victims of forced or bonded labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well. Forced labor is a form of human trafficking that can be harder to identify and estimate than sex trafficking. It may not involve the same criminal networks profiting from transnational sex trafficking, but may instead involve individuals who subject anywhere from one to hundreds of workers to involuntary servitude, perhaps through forced or coerced household work or work at a factory.

Bonded Labor
One form of force or coercion is the use of a bond, or debt, to keep a person under subjugation. This is referred to in law and policy as “bonded labor” or “debt bondage.” It is criminalized under U.S. law and included as a form of exploitation related to trafficking in the UN TIP Protocol. Many workers around the world fall victim to debt bondage when traffickers or recruiters unlawfully exploit an initial debt the worker assumed as part of the terms of employment, or when workers inherit debt in more traditional systems of bonded labor. Traditional bonded labor in South Asia enslaves huge numbers of people from generation to generation.

Debt Bondage and Involuntary Servitude Among Migrant Laborers
The vulnerability of migrant laborers to trafficking schemes is especially disturbing because this population is so sizeable in some regions. Three potential contributors can be discerned: 1) Abuse of contracts; 2) Inadequate local laws governing the recruitment and employment of migrant laborers; and 3) The intentional imposition of exploitative and often illegal costs and debts on these laborers in the source country or state, often with the complicity and/or support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country or state.

Some abuses of contracts and hazardous conditions of employment do not in themselves constitute involuntary servitude, though use or threat of physical force or restraint to compel a worker to enter into or continue labor or service may convert a situation into one of forced labor. Costs imposed on laborers for the “privilege” of working abroad can place laborers in a situation highly vulnerable to debt bondage. However, these costs alone do not constitute debt bondage or involuntary servitude. When combined with exploitation by unscrupulous labor agents or employers in the destination country, these costs or debts, when excessive, can become a form of debt bondage.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude
Domestic workers may be trapped in servitude through the use of force or coercion, such as physical (including sexual) or emotional abuse. Children are particularly vulnerable. Domestic servitude is particularly difficult to detect because it occurs in private homes, which are often unregulated by public authorities. For example, there is great demand in some wealthier countries of Asia and the Middle East for domestic servants who sometimes fall victim to conditions of involuntary servitude.

Warning Signs of Human Trafficking

Since human trafficking is often a crime that is hidden in plain sight, it is important to be aware of its warning signs. Some indications that a person may be a victim of human trafficking include (especially in the case of women and children):

  • Appearing malnourished
  • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse
  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement
  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction
  • Lacking official identification documents
  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions
  • Working excessively long hours
  • Living at place of employment
  • Checking into hotels/motels with older males, and referring to those males as boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp
  • Poor physical or dental health
  • Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back
  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Small children serving in a family restaurant
  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment - barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows
  • Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves

How can I volunteer to stop human trafficking?

Other Ways to Help Survivors of Human Trafficking

  1. Educate yourself. Look beyond documentaries that offer a narrow narrative and instead seek out multiple reliable sources to gain greater understanding. ...
  2. Invest in your community. ...
  3. Make informed purchasing decisions. ...
  4. Buy products made by survivors. ...
  5. Give or fundraise.
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