What is Human Trafficking?

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines it as:
“Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion, abduction, deception or the abuse of power...for the purpose of exploiting them.  Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitationforced labor or services, slavery…or the removal of organs.” It is the act of forcing a person to perform labor or a sexual act against his or her will for the financial gain of the traffickers.
Many people think sex trafficking only happens when a woman or girl is kidnapped and forced to perform sexual acts, but it can be much more than that. Sex trafficking also includes commercial and more “socially acceptable” forms of sexual exploitation including:

  • Prostitution
  • Pornography
  • Stripping
  • Live-Sex Shows
  • Mail-Order Brides
  • Military Prostitution
  • Sex Tourism

Men and boys can also be victims of sex trafficking. Some of the most disturbing cases are the victims as young as 6 years oldundefinedboys and girlsundefinedwho are kidnapped by traffickers or sold to traffickers by family members or trusted friends. Sex trafficking occurs all over the world including in U.S. cities and communities. This is a very serious epidemic: an estimated 27 million people worldwide are trafficked each year. Victims are not always forced into this life but are sometimes coerced by receiving:

  • Promises of a good job overseas
  • False marriage proposals that turn into bondage situations
  • Promises of a glamorous life in the entertainment industry

Once under the trafficker’s control, enslaved victims are forced into obedience by:

  • Starvation
  • Confinement
  • Forced drug use
  • Rape
  • Threats of violence to their families

These methods of control are often practiced throughout the duration of the enslavement which, unless the victim is rescued, will last on average five to six years before the victim dies from health complications, disease, drug overdose or suicide. Traffickers view victims as property and a source of financial gain and watch them closely, keeping them segregated from general society.  Victims’ only interactions with the “outside world” are with those people to whom they are sold for use.

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