Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking Defined

Human trafficking is the trade in people, and does not necessarily involve the movement of the person to another location.

The State and Federal Penal Codes have three standards of fraud, force and/or coercion, except in the case of a minor victim (those 18 years or younger), where the person is too young to give consent.

Act Means Purpose
Recruitment Force Exploitation
Harboring Fraud Involuntary servitude
Transport Coercion Debt bondage
Provision Slavery
Obtaining or attempting to do so Or any commercial sex act involving a MINOR

Seasoning: Initial stage of breaking down a victim’s resistance by using physical violence, rape and/or confinement to establish psychological, physical and emotional control.  It is important to note that many victims have been trafficked into an industry that does not directly involve sex work (e.g. marriage, prostitution) have been sexually victimized, usually during seasoning, to maintain control.

Gratuitous Violence – violence for the sake of being violent; without need and often unrealistic.

Instrumental Violence – aggression that intends to hurt someone as a means to a goal other than causing pain; acts designed to improve the position of the abuser.

Trafficking Smuggling
Elements of force/fraud/coercion Person is generally cooperating
Forced labor and/or exploitation No actual or implied coercion
Victims Complicit in the smuggling crime
Provision Slavery
Enslaved, limited movement, isolation, documents confiscated Free to leave, change jobs, etc.
Enslaved, limited movement, isolation, documents confiscated Facilitates illegal entry from one country to another
Doesn’t have to cross an international border Always crosses an international border
Person is “working”: commercial sex acts, labor/services Person must only be in country or attempting
to illegal entry

How Victims are Trafficked

Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to compel women, men, and children to engage in these activities. The table below shows the difference between force, fraud and coercion.

Force Fraud Coercion
Physical abuse Illegal contracts Spoken or implied threats
Kidnapping False promises Control over loved ones
Fake businesses Manipulation
False marriage Climate of fear
Confiscation of documents
Abuse of legal system

International Trafficking Victims

Victims are usually recruited by someone known to and familiar with the customs of the village/town.  Recruiters play upon the victim’s vulnerabilities, establish trust with the family and offer legitimate employment. In some cases they may “buy” the child.

Push Factors Pull Factors
Economics – Poverty, job availability Economics – “Promised Land”
Political instability– civil war, internal conflict Political stability – despite all, “life goes on”
Personal – abuse, age/gender, education level Personal –obtain education, able to support family back home, won’t be judged
Cultural – ethnic minorities, rights of men Cultural – cheap goods require cheap labor

Other Forms of Human Trafficking

Familial Trafficking – family member/close family friends abuse the existing power dynamics and vulnerabilities of the child to compel them in to a trafficking situation.

Intimate Partner Trafficking – Partners are compelled into commercial sex, forced labor or involuntary servitude “for the benefit of” the family, financial support or to support the trafficker’s addiction.

Agriculture and Farm work – Men, women, families or children, who harvest crops, raise livestock, work at packing plants, orchard or nurseries for no pay.

Domestic Workers – Work within “employer’s” household cooking, cleaning, child or elder care, gardening.

Hostesses and Strip Clubs – Sell drinks and/or food, strip, dance, or entertain customers with limited to no control over their schedule, movement, and/or money. Female pimps at such places are often called “Community Mom”.

Factories/Manufacturing – Mostly in garment and food processing plants, victims are forced to work 10-12 hour days, 6-7 days per week with little or no break time, pay, nor freedom of movement.

Sales Crews – Recruits American youth, with promises of travel and ability to make a lot   of money.  A “crew” can have 3 to 40 youth. The “manager” moves the crew from city to city every few weeks. Violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, pressure tactics, and abandonment in unfamiliar cities are common.

Hospitality Industry – Room attendants; front desk, kitchen, restaurant, server or bell staff; marketing; casinos; or any service offered by a hotel. If not hired directly by the hotel, the hotel may or may not be aware of the abuse.

Restaurant/Food Service – Forced to work as waiters, bussers, kitchen staff, cooks/chefs with little or no pay. May experience erratic working hours/overwork, with little time to sleep, eat, seek help.

Other Industries – Any industry with a demand for cheap labor and a lack of rigorous        monitoring where victims are forced to work against their will in exploitative conditions.

When a parent(s) sells their child for sex to make their car payment – it is familial sex trafficking and child abuse; makes their child work long hours at the family business under duress instead of going to school – it is familial labor trafficking and child abuse.

When a teenage boy coerces his girlfriend to sell sexual favors in order to ___ –   it is intimate partner sex trafficking and teen dating violence.

For more information regarding human trafficking, please contact Wende Hilsenrod, Human Trafficking Specialist.



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