For approximately 50 million people, it’s not some obscure, disconnected concept that’s hard khổng lồ comprehend; it’s a reality they’re forced to live in daily. If we want khổng lồ effectively contribute to the eradication of modern slavery, we must first understand what causes human trafficking và the effects of human trafficking on those involved. Only then can we start making strategic moves khổng lồ stop this crime và truly help those in need.

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The root cause of human trafficking is traffickers1

Traffickers prey on others’ weaknesses, unfortunate circumstances, unfamiliarity, and inexperience. Traffickers are trained lớn identify vulnerability và use expert manipulation tactics lớn persuade và control their victims. They identify a void & offer to lớn fill it.

Vulnerability creates opportunity for traffickers

Individuals living in difficult conditions can become desperate, & that desperation makes them vulnerable. While the following categories bởi not cause human trafficking, they bởi create a state of vulnerability and ideal opportunities for traffickers khổng lồ strike.

When someone living in poverty, such as a widow or single mother who struggles to lớn provide for her children, is desperate lớn meet a basic need, she is in a vulnerable position. A trafficker, familiar with this scenario, might offer her a job that enables her khổng lồ feed her children. If this appears khổng lồ be her only option, she may accept and be willing to vì whatever the trafficker asks of her.
Traffickers target unemployed individuals và often use deception to persuade them to lớn leave home and take a job in another thành phố or country. The position may initially sound promising, but once the individual arrives at the destination, it is often much different than what was described. To keep them from leaving, traffickers may confiscate their victims’ passports or IDs. They might also pay for transportation, shelter, clothing, or food so their victims are indebted lớn them and feel obligated khổng lồ work.
War, political instability, and natural disasters can displace individuals or entire families. When people are forced lớn flee their homes và communities, they can experience financial hardship, homelessness, & culture shock. Children who have lost their parents, for example, are easy targets for traffickers. Without a safe place to call trang chủ or a guardian khổng lồ provide for và protect them, these children become vulnerable khổng lồ abuse, unfair treatment, và trafficking.
Lack of Knowledge or Experience
Inexperience may lead individuals down a path that ends in exploitation. A teenager who is approached by a trafficker may accept an attractive job offer, seeing it as a great opportunity at such a young age. An immigrant who arrives in a foreign country may not understand his or her rights, may be unfamiliar with the nation’s laws, or may not know the national language. A trafficker will quickly take advantage of these types of situations.
Broken Families
Individuals who are cast out of their homes, abandoned, or placed into the child welfare system are highly vulnerable khổng lồ human trafficking. Runaways, youth experiencing homelessness, and those who live in isolation are often targeted. When someone feels alone or unloved or has been abused in the past, they may be willing to lớn take great risks. They may feel as though they have little to thất bại or may even find comfort living with their trafficker. Some traffickers offer love and acceptance khổng lồ lure individuals lớn work for them.
Cultural Practices
In some societies, it’s widely accepted to devalue and abuse women & children. This outlook is ingrained into the minds of men và women in certain cultures, which creates a huge opportunity for traffickers. A parent may be willing khổng lồ sell a daughter and send her into a world of exploitation. Some girls & women may leave trang chủ willingly if they’ve been raised to believe they are unequal lớn men or have few opportunities for work và advancement in their own communities. In traditional cultures where arranged marriages are common, girls are sometimes forced into child marriage, which can also be identified as a form of human trafficking.

Human trafficking can have physical, emotional, & psychological effects on anyone involved. It has the power lớn impact someone’s life forever. Here are some common ways human trafficking affects victims & perpetrators. As you read through this section, keep in mind that many traffickers also experience trauma because of what they see and do to lớn others, & many traffickers have been victimized themselves at some point in their lives.

Mental Trauma
The U.S. Department of State explains, “Because traffickers dehumanize và objectify their victims, victims’ innate sense of power, visibility, và dignity often become obscured.”

Victims of human trafficking can experience devastating psychological effects during and after their trafficking experience. Many survivors may end up experiencing post-traumatic stress, difficulty in relationships, depression, memory loss, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, và other severe forms of mental trauma.
Physical Trauma
Many victims also experience physical injuries. Those who have been sexually exploited are often abused by their traffickers & customers. They may be raped, beaten, & subjected lớn abuse over a long period of time. There is also a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, infections, diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses. A lack of proper medical care allows these conditions khổng lồ spread and worsen—often affecting an individual’s health permanently.

Victims of forced labor may work in dangerous conditions for long hours doing repetitive tasks. They may also be exposed to dangerous contaminants or work with heavy equipment. As a result, many are subjected to lớn serious infections, respiratory problems, injuries, impairments, and exhaustion.3
Individuals who are being trafficked can quickly become isolated from friends, family, and other social circles. This may be due to lớn their personal feelings of guilt & shame or because they’ve relocated và now live far away from their community. Either way, victims can become isolated, withdrawn, và lose liên hệ with most people.

Some individuals who return trang chủ or escape a trafficking situation may even be excluded from social groups due lớn a stigma they now face; they may be shunned by their family và friends & feel unloved và unwanted.4 Unfortunately, this isolation can make them vulnerable to lớn being trafficked again or lead them khổng lồ return lớn an abusive lifestyle.
Lack of Independent Living Skills
Many victims who escape a trafficking situation lack advanced education & the resources needed to live independently. They may not understand laws in the country where they now reside or may not speak the language. They may have been trafficked at a young age và were unable to attend school or go to college. After being confined to lớn the same job for a long period of time and not being allowed lớn learn new skills, victims can become dependent. When the time comes, they may have a hard time living on their own.
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, second in form size only to lớn drug trafficking.2 Traffickers generate $150 billion per year, according to the International Labor Organization. $99 billion of that is generated through sex trafficking alone, while the other $51 billion is generated through labor trafficking. The more traffickers participate in the exploitation of others, the more money they make for themselves.
Cheap Labor
Traffickers use deception to attract employees lớn work for them. They may promise a safe working environment và fair pay. In reality, employees are often forced to work long, hard hours for little or no pay. By using threats or violence, employers can convince their employees to lớn continue working for them & to keep quiet.
Escape from Victimization
Once victims age out of their current positions, they may be offered a job as a trafficker. Some accept the new position khổng lồ escape their own victimization. They then begin exploiting others.

Human trafficking continues to lớn grow in staggering numbers around the world. The effects of this injustice are far reaching, impacting all individuals involved, their communities, and generations that follow. While the causes and effects are varied and multifaceted, sustainable change can happen if survivors are rescued và their perpetrators are arrested. The more dangerous human trafficking becomes for traffickers, the less likely they will continue exploiting others.

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Here at The Exodus Road, we believe we all have a role to play in creating a miễn phí world. There are numerous ways YOU can help fight human trafficking in your own community.

Bring awareness khổng lồ your social circles so your friends and family know more about trafficking
Volunteer with a local counter-trafficking organization
Be a friend to lớn someone who is alone and vulnerable

No action is too small. Never underestimate the difference you can make in someone’s life through one small act of kindness.

This article was originally published in November of 2018.


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Human trafficking is a public health issue that impacts individuals, families, and communities. Traffickers disproportionately target at-risk populations including individuals who have experienced or been exposed to other forms of violence (child abuse & maltreatment, interpersonal violence and sexual assault, community và gang violence) và individuals disconnected from stable tư vấn networks (runaway and homeless youth, unaccompanied minors, persons displaced during natural disasters).

Definition of Trafficking in Persons

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), as amended (22 U.S.C. § 7102), defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

Sex trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting 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 lớn 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 khổng lồ involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Human Trafficking versus Human Smuggling

Human traffickinghuman smuggling
Victims are forced, defrauded, or coerced into trafficking. Even if victims initially offer consent, that consent is rendered meaningless by the actions of the traffickers lớn exploit them for labor, services, or commercial sex.Individuals consent to being smuggled. The transaction is mutual & ends upon arrival at desired destination.
Human trafficking is a crime committed against an individual.Smuggling is a crime committed against a country.
Trafficking does not need to involve the physical movement of a person. Trafficking victimization can be transnational or domestic.Smuggling involves the illegal transport of an individual across a national border. Smuggling is always transnational.

How Victims Are Trafficked

Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion khổng lồ subject victims to lớn engage in commercial sex or forced labor. Anyone can be a victim of trafficking anywhere, including in the United States.

actionmeans(Does not need lớn be present in a situation of sex trafficking of minors)purpose

Recruiting includes proactive targeting of vulnerability và grooming behaviors

Harboring includes isolation, confinement, monitoring

Transporting includes movement and arranging travel

Providing includes giving to another individual

Obtaining includes forcibly taking, exchanging something for ability lớn control

*Soliciting includes offering something of value

*Patronizing includes receiving something of value

*Only for sex trafficking

Force includes physical restraint, physical harm, sexual assault, và beatings. Monitoring và confinement is often used to lớn control victims, especially during early stages of victimization lớn break down the victim’s resistance.

Fraud includes false promises regarding employment, wages, working conditions, love, marriage, or better life. Over time, there may be unexpected changes in work conditions, compensation or debt agreements, or nature of relationship.

Coercion includes threats of serious harm khổng lồ or physical restraint against any person, psychological manipulation, document confiscation, and shame & fear-inducing threats to share information or pictures with others or report to lớn authorities.

Commercial Sex Act is any sex act on account of anything of value given khổng lồ or received by any person.

Involuntary Servitude is any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to lớn cause a person khổng lồ believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

Debt Bondage includes a pledge of services by the debtor or someone under debtor’s control khổng lồ pay down known or unknown charges (e.g. Fees for transportation, boarding, food, & other incidentals; interest, fines for missing quotas, and charges for “bad behavior). The length và nature of those services are not respectively limited & defined, where an individual is trapped in a cycle of debt that he or she can never pay down.

Peonage is a status or condition of involuntary servitude based on real or alleged indebtedness

Slavery is the state of being under the ownership or control of someone where a person is forced to lớn work for another.

Help for Victims of Trafficking

Get help, report a tip, find services, and learn more about your options. The National Human Trafficking đường dây nóng provides assistance lớn victims in crisis through safety planning, emotional support, & connections lớn local resources.