Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to control a person for commercial sex or labor services. Traffickers use violence, threats, blackmail, false promises, deception, and debt bondage to trap vulnerable persons for profit.
Sex trafficking occurs in a wide variety of settings including residential brothels, online escort services, massage parlors, strip clubs, and street prostitution. Labor trafficking occurs in diverse labor settings including domestic work, small businesses, large farms, and factories. Two primary causes of human trafficking include high profits and low risk. Similar to illegal drugs and arms markets, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal enterprise based on the principles of supply and demand.
Human traffickers generate billions of dollars yearly by victimizing people around the world. As defined by U.S. law, victims of human trafficking divide into children under the age 18 and adults who are forced, coerced, and/or induced into commercial sex and/or labor servitude. The average age of a sex trafficking victim is 13. Traffickers lure people into forced labor and sex by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities. These individuals prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual or physical abuse. Traffickers often use the internet to target their victims. Runaway and homeless youth have an increased risk to become victims. Traffickers often promise high paying jobs, loving relationships, or new opportunities. In other cases, traffickers kidnap victims or use physical and psychological violence to control them. Traffickers can work along or in criminal networks with the common thread of exploiting people for profit. For more information, visit https://www.gatewayhumantrafficking.org/.
Sources: “Report: Majority of Trafficking Victims Are Women and Girls.”United Nations, United Nations, www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/12/report-majority-of-trafficking-victims-are-women-and-girls-one-third-children/. The Gender Dimensions of Human Trafficking. The Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, 9 Apr. 2017., “2018 U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline Statistics.” , Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States, Urban Institute, Northeastern University, Justice Policy Center., Polaris, 13 Feb. 2020, polarisproject.org/2018-us-national-human-trafficking-hotline-statistics/.,