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What is human trafficking?

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex, debt bondage, or forced labor. They are young children, teenagers, men and women. Trafficking in persons occurs throughout the world, including in the United States.  Definition of Trafficking in Persons  The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as follows:
 Sex trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex 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; and
 Labor Trafficking: 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.
In the TVPA, the term “commercial sex act” means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.  How Victims Are Trafficked
Many victims of trafficking, particularly women and children, are exploited for purposes of prostitution and pornography. However, trafficking also takes place in diverse labor contexts, such as domestic servitude, small businesses, factories, and agricultural work.

Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to compel women, men, and children to engage in these activities.  Force can involve the use of physical restraint or serious physical harm. Physical violence, including rape, beatings, and physical confinement, is often employed as a means to control victims, especially during the early stages of victimization, when the trafficker breaks down the victim’s resistance.  Fraud involves false promises regarding employment, wages, working conditions, or other matters.

What is human trafficking abroad?

For example, individuals might travel to another country under the promise of well-paying work at a farm or factory only to find themselves manipulated into forced labor. Others might reply to advertisements promising modeling, nanny, or service industry jobs overseas, but be forced into prostitution once they arrive at their destination.

Coercion can involve threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.  Victims of trafficking are often subjected to debt bondage or peonage in which traffickers demand labor as a means repayment for a real or alleged debt, yet they do not reasonably apply a victim’s wages toward the payment of the debt, or limit or define the nature and length of the debtor’s services. Traffickers may charge victims fees for transportation, boarding, food, and other incidentals; interest, fines for missing daily work quotas, and charges for “bad behavior” may be added. Debt bondage traps a victim in a cycle of debt that he or she can never pay down, and it can be part of a larger scheme of psychological cruelty.

Help for Victims of Trafficking:
Prior to the enactment of the TVPA in 2000, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers. The TVPA and its subsequent reauthorizations have worked to prevent human trafficking both in the United States and abroad, to increase prosecution of human traffickers, and to protect victims by providing benefits and services that will help them rebuild their lives in the United States.

If you think you have come into contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.888.3737.888. The NHTRC can help you identify and coordinate with local organizations that protect and serve trafficking victims.

(Excerpted from the Department of Health and Human Services website at:

What is human trafficking globally?

There are more slaves today than at any time in human history.  An estimated 27 million men, women, and children are living in bondage. In 2007, slave traders made more profit than Google, Nike, and Starbucks combined.

  • There are over one million new people trafficked annually.
  • 80% are women and 60% are children.
  • Every minute two children become victims of human trafficking.
  • The average life span of a child caught in the sex slave trade is two years.
  • They are either beaten to death, contract HIV/AIDS, contract bacterial meningitis, or overdose on drugs forced on them.

United States

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates 100,000 to 300,000 American kids under 18 are involved in prostitution and often targeted by sexual predators annually.  According to the FBI, the average age of a child sexually exploited is 11.  The average age of entry for a girl into prostitution is 13, for a boy 12.

The U.S. cities where human trafficking is worst are: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington, DC.


Annually 600,000 – 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders.  Of these, 70% are women and 50% are children.  The majority of these are forced into the commercial sex trade.

Each year approximately 117,000 Ukrainians are trafficked. The majority of the victims are women and children.  Most women fall victim through phony job offers and are later forced into prostitution.  Most orphans fall victim because of the lack of protection and oversight of these children as they leave state institutions.

Russia is a major source of women trafficked globally for sexual exploitation.  It is estimated that 500,000 women from Central and Eastern Europe are involved in prostitution in Europe alone.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is one of the world’s largest exporters of sex slaves to brothels in Japan, China, Australia, Europe, and the United States.  Human traffickers are most successful in finding young girls among destitute rural villages. One SE Asian country is estimated to have thirty thousand children that are exploited in the sex trade and as many as one-third of these are under eighteen years old.  The owner of a brothel in Southeast Asia can buy a women or child for as little as $50.




“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, and forgotten by everybody.  I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

— Mother Theresa


To properly address this issue will require the commitment and will to engage this battle on several fronts:

1.      Awareness- Not only making people and lawmakers aware of the problem, but   warning those at risk of the dangers.

2.      Prevention- Implementing programs and tools to keep those most vulnerable from becoming victims of human trafficking.

3.      Restoration- Providing an escape and support for victims of sexual exploitation so they may find healing and purpose for their life.

4.      Advocacy- work within the system to change laws that will punish  abusers , protect victims, and promote convictions of those who exploit others.

5.      Pray- to the God of Heaven who has promised to avenge the weak of their oppressors.

Please find your place to engage in the effort to intervene in the lives of women and children who are targets of ruthless and vile criminals interested only in how to pleasure and benefit themselves.  Get involved-you will be glad you did!