Frequently Asked Questions.
Here are some common questions about Human Trafficking.
What is the actual definition of human trafficking?
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons (TIP), is a modern-day form of slavery. It is the trade of human beings through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation for labor, sexual purposes, or organs. It is a crime under federal and international law.
Slavery is more rampant now than in any other time in recorded history. Researchers estimate that in 2016 at any given time, there were 40.3 million people in modern slavery, and that slavery is generating $150 billion each year in illicit profits for traffickers.
The definition comes from the Trafficking Victims’ Protection Act (2000, 2003, 2005, 2008) which defines “severe forms of trafficking” as:
a. sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an 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.
Note that a victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within these definitions.
Who are the victims?
Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, though some populations of individuals, given their positions in society, are more vulnerable to trafficking. These populations include:
Women and children
Marginalized communities (such as Roma, minority and indigenous populations)
Immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, and refugees
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals
Individuals with a history of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence
Individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds
Individuals in foster care
Homeless and run-away individuals
Environmental refugees and individuals subject to natural disasters
Individuals living in unstable political climates
Individuals with Disabilities
Ultimately, trafficked persons span all demographic markers. However, the populations listed above are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
The International Labour Organization estimates demographics of victims in their Global Estimate of Forced Labour. They find that female-identifying individuals constitute 71% of victims, compared to 29% male. It is estimated that children comprise 1 out of 4 victims of human trafficking.
How does human trafficking happen?
Each case of human trafficking is unique. Whether the human trafficker is an individual acting alone or part of a larger organization, they reap financial gain from their victim through force, fraud, or coercion.
While it is true that traffickers may forcibly kidnap their victims, this is not the most common case. More frequently, traffickers manipulate and take advantage of an individual’s position of vulnerability in order to establish coercive control. For example, they may fraudulently influence their victim with the false incentive of a job or better living conditions. In manipulating individuals’ vulnerabilities, traffickers will often also use physical force to establish dominance and control.
Traffickers use a variety of tactics to intimidate and control their victims, including:
- Physical violence, torture, and starvation.
- Rape and other sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse, coercion, and blackmail
- Drug addiction
- Threats of violence against their family or loved ones
- Confiscation of passports or other important documentation
- Prospects of opportunity
- Debt bondage
What Is The Most Commonly Identified Form Of Human Trafficking?
In UNODC’s Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, sexual exploitation was noted as by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced
How common is human trafficking and modern slavery?
While it is difficult to quantify the number of victims of human trafficking because the crime is inherently underground, the International Labour Organization estimates that 40 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2017. Of those 40 million, 25 million people are victims of forced labor (16 million in private sector exploitation, 4.8 million in sexual exploitation, and over 4 million in forced labor by state authorities) and 15 of forced marriage. This comes out to be an average of 5.4 victims of trafficking for every 1,000 people in the world.
Does violence have to be involved in human trafficking?
No. As defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, an individual who uses physical or psychological violence to force someone into labor or services or into commercial sex acts is considered a human trafficker. Therefore, while some victims experience beatings, rape, and other forms of physical violence, many victims are controlled by traffickers through psychological means, such as threats of violence, manipulation, and lies. In many cases, traffickers use a combination of direct violence and mental abuse.
How would I recognize a victim?
- they may be controlled or intimidated by someone else (i.e. being escorted or watched)
- they may not speak on their own behalf and may not be English/French speaking
- they may not have a passport or other I.D.
- they may not be familiar with the neighborhood they live/work in
- they may be moved frequently by their traffickers
- they may have injuries/bruises from beatings and/or weapons
- they may show visible signs of torture i.e. cigarette burns, cuts
- they may show visible signs of branding or scarring (indicating ownership by the trafficker)
- they may show signs of malnourishment
- they may express fear and intimidation through facial expressions and/or body language
There are very few clear black and white indicators of human trafficking.
For any other Questions, Please call our Hotline.