WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children around the world are victims of human trafficking – including right here in Washington. Human trafficking can occur in any community, and victims can be of any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers may use violence, manipulation, or false promises of good-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into the trafficking situation
Human trafficking is the modern form of slavery. It is the exploitation of men, women and children for forced labor or sex by third parties for profit or gain. In Human trafficking, there must be force, fraud, or coercion. Action, Means, and Purpose are three tools commonly used to understand human trafficking federal law.
Human trafficking is a criminal industry that deprives 24.9 million people around the world of their freedom. In 2017, human trafficking was classified as a $150.2 billion industry. Also in 2017, Polaris processed 8,759 human trafficking cases reported to the Polaris-operated National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline. These cases involved 10,615 individual victims, nearly 5,000 potential traffickers, and 1,698 trafficking businesses. Human trafficking is notoriously underreported. As shocking as these numbers are, they likely represent only a tiny fraction of the real problem.
In October 2000, the United States Congress passed a critical piece of legislation-the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)-that provided greater protections for victims of trafficking in the United States, made trafficking and related crimes a federal crime, and increased U.S. government efforts to provide services and prevention. This law served as a catalyst for two decades of rapidly expanding federal efforts to eradicate human trafficking and preserve the rights of survivors.
The Action-Means-Purpose (AMP) Model can be helpful in understanding federal law. Human trafficking occurs when an offender, often referred to as a trafficker, performs an act and then uses the means of force, fraud, or coercion to coerce the victim into providing commercial sexual acts, labor, or services. At least one element from each column must be present to establish a potential trafficking case.
The AMP model is provided below to assist in understanding the action, means, and purpose.
● Force, Fraud, or Coercion
U.S. law defines human trafficking as the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person to engage in commercial sexual acts, labor, or services against his or her will. The only exception concerns minors and commercial sex. The enticement of a minor to engage in commercial sex is considered human trafficking regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion is involved.
MYTHS & FACTS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
SIGNS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Not all of the indicators listed are present in every trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of
any of the indicators is not necessarily evidence of trafficking.
Some of the indicators are:
● Abuse of vulnerability
● Restriction of freedom of movement
● Physical and sexual violence
● Intimidation and threats
● Withholding of identity documents
● Withholding of wages
● Debt bondage
● Abusive working and living conditions
● Excessive unpaid overtime
Some of the indicators are:
● Does the person seem disconnected from their family, friends, community, organizations, or places of worship?
● Has a child stopped attending school?
● Did the person have a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
● Has a youth been involved in commercial sexual activity?
● Is the person disoriented or confused or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
● Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
● Is the person anxious, fearful, or submissive?
● Does the person show signs of being denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
● Is the person often in the company of someone to whom they are submissive? Or someone who
● seems to control the situation, such as where they go or who they talk to?
● Does the person seem to receive instructions about what to say?
● Is the person live in inappropriate circumstances?
● Does the person lack personal belongings and appear not to be living in a stable living situation?
● Can the person move around freely? Can the person leave his or her residence freely? Are there any inappropriate security measures?
Grooming, Exploitation, and Control
Targeting the Victim
● Traffickers look for people who have emotional or material needs that are not being met, such as teenagers who lack self-confidence or young adults who write online about a bad breakup.
● Traffickers get to know their victims and use what they learn to make it seem like they are the perfect match, the answer to their dreams, the person they can count on. They listen, offer support, and bide their time.
● Once traffickers know what victims want or need, they give it to them – or at least dangle it before their eyes – and let them taste what it feels like to be loved, to be safe, or to be cared for.
● As the relationship grows, the trafficker slowly cuts the victim off from friends and loved ones, reinforcing the sense of dependence.
● This might start slowly, asking the victim to have sex for money, “just this once” or “to help me”. Over time, this becomes normalized so that the victim thinks they are making the decision on their own.
● In most cases, the trafficker will do anything to maintain control over the victim.
● Traffickers often manipulate their victims into depending on traffickers to do things that any other person would have no problem doing themselves.
These indicators include:
◘ Not being able to control one’s own identification (ID or passport)
◘ Not allowed or able to speak for themselves and refuses to make eye contact
◘ Has few personal belongings, wears the same clothes over and over again, or carries his or her belongings in a garbage bag
◘ Pays mostly in cash; cannot dispose of their own money or has no financial records or bank account
Human trafficking encompasses both labor and sex trafficking, and the indicators within the workplace can look like the following:
● Recruited with false promises as to the nature and conditions of his or her work.
● Unpaid or paid very little by cash tips, unofficially.
● Has a pimp or manager or someone who will not leave their side
● Cannot leave freely or come and go as he or she pleases
● Works long and/or unusual hours
● Has large debts that cannot be paid off
● Is under 18 years of age and performs sexual acts in exchange for something of value
● Exchanges commercial sexual acts for needs such as shelter, food, or other means of survival
Mental and Physical Health
How do the effects of human trafficking exhibit themselves on a victim? Indicators can include the following:
● Anxious, fearful, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous, or paranoid
● Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture, such as bruises, cuts, etc.
● Has branding scars such as burns or tattoos with crowns or money symbols
● No access to medical care or unable to seek medical care without supervision
● Appears malnourished or extremely emaciated
● Appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
● Is overly attached to a person or has a person who is overly attached to him or her
● Needs permission or direct to make simple decisions, such as going to the bathroom
● Unusually anxious or fearful around law enforcement or when law enforcement is mentioned
* For more information on red flags and indicators please refer to our links.
The safety of the public and the victim comes first. Do not attempt to directly approach a suspected trafficker or alert a victim to a suspicion. It is the responsibility of law enforcement to investigate suspected trafficking cases. If you suspect you or someone else is being trafficked, call or text one of these hotlines, or call 911.