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What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Victims experience a loss of freedom and exploitation at the hands of their traffickers who buy and sell them in pursuit of profit. As a result, human trafficking is commonly known as modern-day slavery. In human trafficking situations, traffickers gain complete control over victims and force them into the labor, services, or commercial sex industry in order to generate profit from their labor and commercial sex acts. Some of the forms of violence traffickers use to control their victims include brutal beatings, rape, lies and deception, threats of serious harm or familial harm, and psychological abuse. Although human trafficking often involves transportation and physical abuse, it is essential to remember that under U.S. federal law: trafficking_250h
  • Trafficking is not smuggling or forced movement.
  • Trafficking does not require transportation or movement across borders.
  • Trafficking does not require physical abuse, force, or restraint. Often, traffickers use psychological manipulation or abuse to control their victims.

Read about the legal definitions of Human Trafficking. Who Are the Victims? Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Victims can be:

  • U.S. citizens or foreign nationals
  • Any race
  • Male or female
  • Child or adult of any age
  • Rich or poor
  • Educated or uneducated

It is essential to remember that education, wealth, age, or social standing does not guarantee invulnerability to becoming a victim of human trafficking. Traffickers often prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual abuse – conditions present in all portions of society. The U.S. State Department estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. annually. The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that every year thousands of American children are lured into the trafficking industry. Both foreign national and U.S. citizen victims have been identified in cities, suburbs, and rural areas in all 50 states and in Washington, DC. They are forced to work or provide commercial sex against their will in legal and legitimate business settings as well as underground markets. Some victims are hidden behind locked doors in brothels and factories. In other cases, victims are in plain view, but the widespread lack of awareness of trafficking leads to low levels of victim identification by the people who come into contact with them. For example, women and girls in sex trafficking situations, especially U.S. citizens, are often misidentified as being voluntarily in the sex industry. Read more… Who Are the Traffickers? Traffickers lure and ensnare individuals into labor and sex trafficking situations by using force, fraud, or coercion. Examples of potential traffickers include:

  • Pimps
  • Brothel owners
  • People who have servants in their homes
  • Small businesses
  • Criminal networks

Read more… What Fuels Human Trafficking? Human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is fueled by the demand for the labor, services, and commercial sex acts of human trafficking victims. Traffickers, who are motivated primarily by the goal of making money, force victims into the labor, services, or commercial sex industry because they can generate large profits. Read more... Who Are the Facilitators? Facilitators include a wide range of individuals, organizations, businesses and corporations, internet sites and practices. What all facilitators have in common is that they enable or support the trafficking industry. Facilitators may include:

  • Landlords
  • Hotels and motels
  • Transportation companies
  • Advertisers
  • Banks and financial services corporations

In some cases, facilitators are aware of their involvement in human trafficking, and the profits they generate outweigh reservations they may have about their role. In other cases, facilitators are unaware and find it difficult to know when they are enabling trafficking to occur. Read more…

 Information provided by Polaris Project


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