Background on Human Trafficking

Modern day human trafficking takes many forms. Individuals may be held against their will as domestic workers, working for little or no pay, and with no way to find other employment. Others may be forced into prostitution and isolated from people who could provide a means of escape. Victims of human trafficking have few resources and most often go unrecognized by law enforcement, social services representatives and other service providers. Their hidden victimization allows perpetrators to offend under the radar of law enforcement, making the significance of this crime more important to understand.

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Article 3, defines human trafficking as:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

U.S. Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation

In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Violence Prevention Act of 2000 (TVPA) defined and classified human trafficking into two main categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

  • Sex trafficking involves the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of eighteen years old.
  • Labor trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. Such violations might include domestic services, manufacturing, construction, migrant laboring and other services obtained through subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.