Learn about Trafficking
The Crime of Trafficking
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, men and women. It is estimated that there are between 12.5 and 27 million people currently enslaved in various forms of bondage. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked worldwide every year. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor.
According to INTERPOL, after drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and is the fastest growing.
Many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the commercial sex industry. But trafficking also occurs in forms of labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, janitorial work, sweatshop factory work and migrant agricultural work. Soldier slavery is another form of bondage, where children are forced to act as human shields, suicide bombers, or as fighting soldiers in conflicts. Yet, even within these other forms of slavery, sexual exploitation exists.
Traffickers use various techniques to instill fear in victims and to keep them captive. Some traffickers keep their victims physically locked away. However, more frequently, traffickers use less obvious techniques including:
• Debt bondage – financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt
• Isolation from the public – limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature
• Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community
• Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
• Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims
• The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family
• Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities
• Control of the victims’ money, e.g., holding their money for “safe-keeping”
In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) made human trafficking a Federal crime. It was enacted to prevent human trafficking overseas, to protect victims and help them rebuild their lives in the U.S., and to prosecute traffickers of humans under Federal penalties. Prior to 2000, no comprehensive Federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers.
Domestic Trafficking of Minors
Currently, in the United States, the FBI and UNICEF (here) estimates that there are approximately 300,000 American underage girls that are vulnerable to sex trafficking. Though there has been little done to document the number of domestic sex trafficking cases or make the link between underage prostitution and trafficking, the Department of Justice has made strong inroads in bringing this issue to the forefront. The result has been the discovery of a serious domestic issue – the trafficking of United States citizens within our own borders for commercial sexual exploitation.
The United States generated Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) (here) has every country listed in order, including its compliance with international standards for combating human trafficking and protecting victims, with one exception – America. There is a strong need for us as a nation, to look carefully within our own borders, where we are experiencing the wholesale exploitation of young girls and women under the notice of public outrage and serious intervention. We are facing a national epidemic and federal and local law enforcement is struggling to develop an effective response to this issue. In 2010, the United States made its first appearance in the TIP Report.
One of the major problems is – there are not adequate or appropriate services for victims. There is vital need for a secure placement shelter that can offer complex and holistic services to survivors of sex trafficking. Transitions recognizes this need and has been open to working on a ‘first of its kind’ shelter program to meet the needs of sexually trafficked American teens. The largest obstacle to services is the enormous financial cost.