WHAT Is Trafficking

Sex and labor trafficking is a public health crisis.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is a type of human trafficking and is a form of modern day slavery. It is a serious public health problem that negatively affects the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker exploits an individual with force, fraud, or coercion to make them perform commercial sex or work. Sex trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to make an adult engage in commercial sex acts. However, any commercial sexual activity with a minor, even without force, fraud, or coercion, is considered trafficking. Understanding the shared risk and protective factors for violence can help us prevent trafficking from happening in the first place.

What are the risks and consequences?

This type of violence exploits women, men, and children across the United States and around the world.Trafficking victimization and perpetration share risks and consequences associated with child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and gang violence.

Perpetrators of human trafficking often target people who are poor, vulnerable, living in an unsafe situation, or searching for a better life. Victims can come from all backgrounds and become trapped in different locations and situations.

  • Men and women are impacted by sex trafficking

  • Victims include all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, citizens, non-citizens, and income levels

  • Victims are trapped and controlled through assault, threats, false promises, perceived sense of protection, isolation, shaming, and debt

  • Victims do not have to be physically transported between locations to be victimized

The consequences of sex trafficking are similar to the consequences of sexual violence. Consequnces can be immediate and longterm including physical and relationship problems, psychological concerns, and negative chronic health outcomes.

How can we prevent sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is preventable. Efforts have focused on increasing community awareness of human trafficking and addressing exploitation after it occurs. To learn more about how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline’s, Recognizing the Signs website. More research is needed to evaluate programs and policies that help reduce factors that put people at risk in order to help prevent trafficking before it occurs. Strategies based on the best available evidence exist to prevent related forms of violence, and they may also reduce sex trafficking. States and communities can implement and evaluate efforts that:

  • encourage healthy behaviors in relationships

  • foster safe homes and neighborhoods

  • identify and address vulnerabilities during health care visits

  • reduce demand for commercial sex

  • end business profits from trafficking-related transactions

Labor Trafficking

Labor trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

Labor trafficking includes situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor. Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many industries.

Common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions with little to no pay.

Key Statistics:

  • Globally, the International Labor Organization and Walk Free Foundation, in partnership with IOM, estimate that there are 24.9 million people trapped in forced labor with 16 million victims of labor trafficking in private industry, 4.8 million victims of sex trafficking, and 4.1 million victims of state-imposed forced labor.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 148 goods from 76 countries made by forced and child labor.

In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as: “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” (22 USC § 7102(9)). See the Federal Laws page for more detailed definitions.

Labor trafficking may be distinguished from other forms of labor exploitation by applying the Action + Means + Purpose Model. Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker takes any one of the enumerated actions, and then employs the means of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of compelling the victim to provide commercial sex acts or labor or services.At a minimum, one element from each column must be present to establish a potential situation of human trafficking. The presence of force, fraud or coercion indicates that the victim has not consented of his or her own free will.

Demand For Labor Trafficking: What You Need To Know

Human trafficking victims make an alarmingly high number of consumer goods and food products, imported to the United States and produced domestically. More often than we realize, elements of forced labor may be present within the supply chain of products we buy or the services we pay for. As economies around the world integrate, it is faster and easier for goods produced with forced labor to enter the global market. In the U.S., labor traffickers exploit and enslave both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.

In cases of labor trafficking, consumers provide the demand and profit incentive for traffickers. These consumers can include companies that subcontract certain types of services, end-consumers who buy cheap goods produced by trafficking victims, or individuals who use the services of trafficking victims. By supporting fair pay for workers and basing our purchasing choices on the fair treatment of those who make our products, consumers have the power to reduce the demand for labor trafficking.

Copy provided by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Learn more, here.