What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipt of a person, by means of threat, force, or other forms of coercion, for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking does not require that a person be moved from one country to another; a person can be trafficked within their own country and/or home. It is considered modern day slavery. Age, race, ethnicity, and nationality are not factors when considering who can potentially become a victim.
Types of Human Trafficking
Sex trafficking is defined as a traumatic form of human trafficking in which commercial sex is often induced by force, fraud, or coercion. Sex traffickers can control their victims by use of confinement, sexual or physical abuse, forced drug use, and even threats of violence or harm. The law does not require force, fraud, or coercion to be present if the person committing commercial sex acts is a minor under 18 years old.
Labor trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use or force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
What does a victim of human trafficking look like?
There is no particular age, gender, or nationality to become a victim. Human trafficking can happen to people of all ages, genders, races, and religious backgrounds. While victims of human trafficking are from all demographics, runaway youth are considered some of the most vulnerable for becoming a victim. Runaway youth are often lured from their home, shelters or public places by traffickers who try to befriend them.
Identifying a victim
While some victims are hidden behind locked doors, some victims are hidden in front of our eyes. For adults, evidence of force, fraud, or coercion must be present, but here are some red flags that a person may be a victim of human trafficking:
- Inability to speak to an individual while alone or conversation appears to be scripted or rehearsed
- Submissive or fearful demeanor
Signs of physical, mental, or sexual abuse
- Poor living conditions (e.g. living in cramped spaces with multiple people).
- Employer is holding important documents such as passport, Visa, or identification card and refuses to give them to the owner
- Work long hours with little or no pay
- Appear malnourished
- Someone being forced to engage in commercial sex while someone else makes a profit
- Children that have sexual knowledge beyond what is appropriate for their age
- Any child under the age of 18 that is performing commercial sex acts
Identifying a trafficker
A trafficker can be of any race, gender, ethnicity and age. A trafficker can live in any area of the world. Traffickers will often try to control their victims either by not allowing them to speak for themselves, or by holding their important documents.
Where does trafficking occur?
Trafficking can occur anywhere. Traffickers lure victims from in their home, public places, shelters, and more often social media. Traffickers sometimes initially befriend their victims in an attempt to develop the victim’s trust.
Statistics of Human Trafficking
It is very difficult to find accurate statistics because human trafficking is hard to prove and many victims do not outcry. That being said, here are some general estimates:
According to Polaris, who runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number, there were 11,500 reports of human trafficking reported for the year of 2019 in the United States. This included over 22,000 victims and survivors, over 4,000 traffickers, and 1,900 suspicious businesses. These numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. From a study conducted by UT Austin, there are approximately 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas alone, with 79,000 of these victims being juveniles in the sex industry.
How to report suspected Human Trafficking
Contact 911 if you have a victim with you, or if there is immediate danger.
For other tips, please call these resources:
Fort Worth Police Department Human Trafficking Unit 817-392-4533
National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888