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 khổng lồ other forms of violence (child abuse và maltreatment, interpersonal violence & sexual assault, community and gang violence) and individuals disconnected from stable tư vấn networks (runaway và homeless youth, unaccompanied minors, persons displaced during natural disasters).

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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 to 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 lớn 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 to lớn subject victims 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 to lớn be present in a situation of sex trafficking of minors)purpose

Recruiting includes proactive targeting of vulnerability and grooming behaviors

Harboring includes isolation, confinement, monitoring

Transporting includes movement & arranging travel

Providing includes giving khổng lồ 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, and beatings. Monitoring và confinement is often used to lớn control victims, especially during early stages of victimization to 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 to or physical restraint against any person, psychological manipulation, document confiscation, & shame & fear-inducing threats to chia sẻ information or pictures with others or report lớn authorities.

Commercial Sex Act is any sex act on tài khoản of anything of value given to lớn or received by any person.

Involuntary Servitude is any scheme, plan, or pattern intended lớn cause a person lớn 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 to lớn pay down known or unknown charges (e.g. Fees for transportation, boarding, food, and other incidentals; interest, fines for missing quotas, và charges for “bad behavior). The length & 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 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 hotline provides assistance lớn victims in crisis through safety planning, emotional support, và connections lớn local resources.

Human trafficking is not the same as human smuggling. Human smuggling is consensual, whereas trafficking is done against a person’s will (Rothman, 2017). There are three common types of human trafficking: the sex trade, forced labor, và domestic servitude. The economic sectors that profit most from human trafficking are agriculture, restaurants, manufacturing, domestic work, entertainment, hospitality, và the commercial sex industry. Trafficking can occur between countries or in areas within a country (Eccleston, 2013). It can happen to lớn anyone of any gender, race, or age (NHTH, 2017).


Source: DHS, 2017.

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Human trafficking will continue as long as there is demand for its victims. Healthcare providers may be one of the only channels through which a victim is identified. Proper staff training can lead to potential identification & intervention. Your ability to assess a victim and knowledge of the resources to assist a victim can turn a very bad situation into a positive outcome. Victims who are in a clinic or emergency department (ED) may rely on you to ask the right questions at the right time. It is possible a healthcare provider is the only other human liên hệ they may experience in months or years, depending on their situation.

With the abuser pretending to lớn act protective & caring, it can be easy for you to lớn overlook a victim if you are not trained in what to lớn look for, or if the abuser does not allow adequate time or conversation with the victim. Healthcare providers must be sensitive và methodical in approaching a victim if they suspect something is “off” about the situation. Having a screening tool, or training on appropriate questions to lớn ask the victim and abuser, can open dialogue & uncover possible victimization.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is the most prevalent size of human trafficking in the United States (Gorman & Hatkevich, 2016). Sex trafficking is a high profit & low risk business where the commodity—the human being’s body—can be sold repeatedly (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2013). Unfortunately, sex trafficking is a problem in the United States because there is a high demand for child pornography & prostitution (Clause và Lawler, 2013). Commercial sexual exploitation includes prostitution, pornography, live sex shows, stripping, personal sexual servitude, escort services, mail order brides, military prostitution, and sex tourism (Gorman & Harkevich, 2016). Children & teenagers are at risk for any of these.


Recruitment of victims in the United States comes from shopping malls, junior high và high schools, foster homes, group homes, courthouses, restaurants & bars, bus stations, concerts, parks, libraries, và social networking websites (Gorman & Harkevich, 2016). Parents should be aware that one of the most common ways that traffickers access children is now through the use of social truyền thông sites like Facebook (Clause & Lawler, 2013).

Once the victims are found, they may be transported lớn where the trafficker has a high demand or they may stay close to the area where they were targeted. The use of mạng internet advertising has taken the sex industry lớn a global operation (Clause và Lawler, 2013).

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines the crime of sex trafficking as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an 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” (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2013). Many people would not be able to recognize a sex slave even if living in the same community (Clause và Lawler, 2013). For this reason, proper training of healthcare workers is essential in reducing this crime.


Victims of sex trafficking will be “groomed” in stages by the abuser (see below). Traffickers look for victims who are vulnerable by using acts of kindness to groom them into submission (Clause & Lawler, 2013).


Source: Long, 2014.

There are two ways an abuser will pimp* a victim of sex trafficking. Finesse pimping uses kindness và psychological games khổng lồ attract young vulnerable victims. Guerilla pimping involves the use of violence and intimidation to force the victim into submission. Finesse pimping is used more with children & guerilla pimping is used more against adults (Clause và Lawler, 2013).

*Pimping: the commodification of people, often against their will, for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Vulnerable youth can be easily targeted by the abuser with the use of promises, psychological manipulation, provision of drugs và alcohol, or violence. The abuser will first try khổng lồ establish a trusting environment by wooing the victim with what seems like a loving và caring relationship. Pimps will invest a lot of time and effort into forming a bond with their victim by initially buying gifts, showing affection, or providing a place to stay (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2013).

With sex trafficking, the general public usually does not realize that the victims working the streets vày not keep any of the money they receive for sex. All money, including tips, must be given lớn their pimp. Victims of sex trafficking may be forced khổng lồ perform multiple sex acts with 10 to đôi mươi customers every day (Hodge, 2014). Drugs play a large role in sex trafficking. Drugs are often used as a way for the victim to lớn cope with the trauma; alternately, some victims enter this lifestyle to support a drug habit (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2013).

Trafficking in Children

There are times when traffickers of children take advantage of the parents’ extreme poverty. Parents may sell children to lớn traffickers in order lớn pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived into thinking this will be a better life for their children (Wikipedia, 2017). Sadly, research has shown that 91% of domestic sex trafficking victims experienced some sort of abuse in their home (Gorman và Hatkevich, 2016). The internet and social truyền thông media have made recruiting easier (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2013). The average age at which a girl first becomes exploited into prostitution is 12 khổng lồ 14 years, and boys ảo diệu almost half of the victim population (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2013).

Forced Labor

Forced labor is another type of human trafficking. 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 lớn involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery” (NHTRC, 2016). Peonage is the act of paying off debt through work (DHS, 2017a). Debt bondage is where the victim is forced in bonded labor to lớn work to lớn pay off a debt, loan, or other obligation (Eccleston, 2013).

Areas most prone to lớn forced labor include domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, và hospitality (Eccleston, 2013). Forced labor is often difficult to lớn detect. Forced labor in the private economy generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year, with migrant workers & indigenous people being particularly vulnerable (ILO, 2017). Illegal immigrants can become confined khổng lồ forced labor if the abuser confiscates their passport or identification documents and uses the threat of their exposure as an illegal lớn the authorities (Eccleston, 2013).

Traffickers target those with low literacy and education levels and those living at or below the poverty line (Gorman và Hatkevich, 2016). Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor, with 11.4 million women and girls and 9.5 million men and boys (ILO, 2017). Women and children are highly trafficked in labor arenas because of their relative lack of power, social marginalization, & overall status as compared khổng lồ men (OTIP, 2017).