• Frequently Asked Questions

    FAQHZB
    Education is the first step in understanding how the issue of human trafficking affects our communities and how we each can make a difference.  Below are some commonly asked questions about human trafficking:

    Click on a question below to jump to the corresponding answer or scroll down to see the answers to all questions.

    What is human trafficking?
    Is human trafficking another name for smuggling?
    Is human trafficking a crime that must involve some form of travel, transportation, or movement across state or national borders?
    Does violence have to be involved in human trafficking?
    What types of trafficking exists?
    Who are the victims?
    How are teens typically recruited into human trafficking situations?
    Under the federal definition, are human trafficking victims only foreign nationals or immigrants?
    Do victims always come from low-income or poor backgrounds?
    Do victims of human trafficking self-identify as a victim of a crime and ask for help immediately?
    Where exactly does trafficking take place?
    How is pimping sex trafficking?
    How do I obtain a copy of the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report?
    What is the most dangerous myth about human trafficking?

     

    What is human trafficking?

    Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons (TIP), is a modern-day form of slavery.  It is the trade of human beings through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation for labor, sexual purposes, or organs. It is a crime under federal and international law.  

    Slavery is more rampant now than in any other time in recorded history.  Researchers estimate that 21 to 36 million are enslaved worldwide, generating $150 billion each year in illicit profits for traffickers. (Sources: U.N. International Labor Organization, the Walk Free Global Slavery Index)

    Is human trafficking another name for smuggling?

    No. Both are entirely separate federal crimes in the U.S. Most notably, smuggling is a crime against a country’s borders, whereas human trafficking is a crime against a person. Also, while smuggling requires illegal border crossing, human trafficking involves commercial sex acts or labor or services that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion.  Unlike smuggling, human trafficking does not always require transportation.  Smuggling and trafficking can occur simultaneously as well.

    Is human trafficking a crime that must involve some form of travel, transportation, or movement across state or national borders?

    No. Although the word ‘trafficking’ sounds like transportation may be involved, the federal definition of human trafficking in the U.S. does not require transportation. Transportation may or may not be involved in the crime of human trafficking, and it is not a required component.

    Does violence have to be involved in human trafficking?

    No.  As defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, an individual who uses physical or psychological violence to force someone into labor or services or into commercial sex acts is considered a human trafficker. Therefore, while some victims experience beatings, rape, and other forms of physical violence, many victims are controlled by traffickers through psychological means, such as threats of violence, manipulation, and lies. In many cases, traffickers use a combination of direct violence and mental abuse.   

    What types of trafficking exists?

    The definition of human trafficking involves sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and organ trafficking. Within these categories, there are multiple sub-types of trafficking, including:
    Familial trafficking A family member sells another for profit.  Often this looks like an older family member or trusted friend coercing or forcing a child into trafficking, possibility to pay for necessities or support addiction.
    Survival trafficking Taking advantage of another person, based on their need to survive, and selling that person for profit (runaway, homeless, foster, and orphaned youth are at risk).
    Gang-controlled trafficking, Increased in recent years, which involves pressuring someone to join or work with the gang to earn money for the benefit of the gang via sale of his or her body or exploiting others.
    Pimp-controlled trafficking A sex-trafficker (“pimp”) forces victims to engage in prostitution for the pimp’s profit.  Pimps lure and control their victims through manipulation, threat, coercion, and abuse.  Pimp culture has been glamorized in pop culture.
    Domestic trafficking
 or domestic involuntary servitude Victims are forced to labor in households or nonprofessional workplaces, usually without the ability to leave.
    Forced marriage
 Differing from an arranged marriage, forced marriage victims are forced to comply often by threat of violence or harm.  Further domestic trafficking and sex trafficking within these marriages is not uncommon.
    Debt bondage, also called bonded labor A person’s debt is exploited by the lender by enslaving the debtor.  The trafficker often makes it impossible to pay off the debt.

    Who are the victims?

    There is not one consistent face of trafficking victim.  Trafficked persons in the United States can be men or women, adults or children, foreign nationals or US citizens.  Some are well-educated, while others have no formal education. 

While some populations are at greater risk than others, trafficking is a crime that cuts across race, nationality, gender, age, education, and socio-economic backgrounds.

    Who is at risk?  

    While anyone can become a victim of trafficking, certain populations are especially vulnerable.  These may include: undocumented migrants; runaway and homeless youth; and oppressed, marginalized, and/or impoverished groups and individuals.  Traffickers specifically target individuals in these populations because they are vulnerable to recruitment tactics and methods of control.

  Undocumented immigrants in the US are highly vulnerable due to a combination of factors, including: lack of legal status and protections, language barriers, limited employment options, poverty and immigration-related debts, and social isolation.  They are often victimized by traffickers from a similar ethnic or national background, on whom they may be dependent for employment or a means of support.

    Traffickers are increasingly approaching teenagers in the United States, which is why RJI has created the Prevention Project program, to educate and equip teens to be knowledgeable and aware of human trafficking signs, prevention tactics, and how to safely report human trafficking.  Average age range of entry is 11-14 years old (boys and girls). 

    How are teens typically recruited into human trafficking situations?

    Traffickers lure teens in a number of ways, often approaching teens in malls, on the streets, or other public settings.  Technology (social media, phone apps, etc.) is also increasingly being used by traffickers to identify, recruit, and lure teens.  Traffickers use manipulation, lies, and false promises to build a relationship with victims, often under the guise of a romantic relationship. 

    Under the federal definition, are human trafficking victims only foreign nationals or immigrants?

    No. The federal definition of human trafficking includes both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals – both are protected under the federal trafficking law and have been since the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Human trafficking encompasses both transnational trafficking that crosses borders and domestic or internal trafficking that occurs within a country.  

    Do victims always come from low-income or poor backgrounds?

    No, human trafficking victims can come from a large range of backgrounds, from lower to middle and upper socioeconomic levels. However, in many countries, including the United States, poverty remains as one of many factors that make individuals vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. 

    Do victims of human trafficking self-identify as a victim of a crime and ask for help immediately?

    Often no. Victims of human trafficking often do not seek help immediately, due to lack of trust, self-blame,, the stigma of prostitution, or being directly trained by traffickers to distrust authorities.  The Prevention Project program provides resources to teachers and school administrators on how to identify, report, and assist teen victims of trafficking.  

    Where exactly does trafficking take place?

    While human trafficking does occur in illegal and underground markets, it can also occur in corporate or residential settings. For example, common locations of human trafficking include private homes, hotels, nail salons, restaurants, bars, strip clubs, and massage parlors.

    How do I obtain a copy of the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report?

    The Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is published annually by the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.  An electronic archive of current and previous TIP Reports can be accessed at http://www.state.gov/g/tip/.  

    What is the most dangerous myth about human trafficking?

    The most dangerous myth about human trafficking is that it does not occur in your community.  Human trafficking currently happens throughout the world and has been reported in every state in the United States, both in small towns and expansive cities.

    Ready to equip your students with teen human trafficking prevention education?
    Click here to learn more!  

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