What is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is an organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited such as being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor.

Also known by the terms “forced labor” and “modern-day slavery”. In addition to being a violent crime, human trafficking is a public health concern that impacts individuals, families, and entire communities across generations.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. It occurs when a trafficker exploits an individual with force, fraud, or coercion to make them perform commercial sex or forced labor. Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise, with global profits estimated in excess of $150 billion annually by the International Labour Organization.

Human trafficking is believed to be the world’s second most profitable criminal enterprise, second only to drug trafficking.

There are three primary factors driving the spread of human trafficking:

High profits
Low risk of consequences
A renewable value because unlike drugs or arms, which can only be sold once, human beings can be sold repeatedly.

Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues within the overall sex industry, including residential brothels, online escort services, illicit massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution. Labor trafficking in the United States has been found in domestic servitude situations, hotels, restaurants, sales crews, agricultural work, construction, long-term care facilities, beauty salons, carnivals, and more.

As opposed to human smuggling, which is a crime against a country’s borders, human trafficking is an egregious crime of exploitation against an individual, in which their very humanity is compromised, and they are viewed as a commodity.

Targeted individuals are not limited to any class, religious, cultural, or ethnic group. The venues also vary from illicit markets to legal industries like hospitality, construction, or domestic services. Traffickers can be any gender or age — some are strangers, while others are peers, friends, romantic partners or family members.

Minors who are involved in the commercial sex industry (i.e. “prostitution”) are viewed as victims of sex trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion occurred. This crime may also be referenced as the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), prostituted children, child sex slavery, or domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST).


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