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What is Human Trafficking and Related Conditions

I’m not an expert on human trafficking so I’ve been educating myself on the subject and

am appalled at the size and scope of the problem. It’s an enormous underground industry that is sometimes right in our face. It is estimated that there are over 40 million people be trafficked globally, with hundreds of thousands in the United States.

There is no state or community in the country that is immune to having human trafficking take place within it. Cities, suburbs, rural, rich, poor, every race, gender, and religion is

affected by it. Human trafficking is considered to be the second most profitable criminal

enterprise in the world, the suffering for those who are victimized by it is unspeakable.

So what is actually considered or covered under the umbrella of the term human


Human trafficking includes but is not limited to the following activities these

are the most common:

  •  Sex trafficking (To include child sex trafficking) – affects woman and children in larger proportions than men. Woman and children make of 80% of the commercial sex industry.

  • Forced labor – commonly known as “Forced Servitude” is considered the largest and most profitable.

  • Debt bondage – is what it sounds like where a person is forced to work to pay off a debt.

  • Organ trafficking – the removal and sale of human organs for transplant

  • Other types less commonly known are child soldiers and child marriage.

The commercial sex industry is just one part of where trafficked humans are used they

are also forced into many other industries including:

• Domestic servitude

• agricultural work

• manufacturing

• janitorial services

• hotel services

• construction

• health and elder care

• hair and nail salons

• prostitution

• strip club dancing

Some of the things that make a person vulnerable to being exploited are the following:

  • Political Instability

  • Poverty

  • Racism and the Legacy of Colonialism

  • Gender Inequality

  • Addictions

  • Mental Health

  • Gang Involvement

  • Online Vulnerability

  • Fear

  • Debt Bondage

  • Dependency and Isolation

  • Shame and Guilt

  • Religious Belief



How many times in our lives have we been somewhere or contracted for work that if being done by people who have no choice in what they’re doing? Many of the people in these industries are often invisible to us on a day to day basis to the point where we barely acknowledge their presence.

How does this happen?

1.Recruitment/Abduction  Victims are recruited into slavery by fraud, force or coercion. Exploiters often lure victims with the promise of a better life – for example with guarantees of employment, education or travel. For recruitment purposes, exploiters often use employment and travel agencies, or family and friendship connections. Other exploiters use force or coercion, abducting victims directly or threatening victims or their families with harm if they do not comply. 

2. Transfer and Transportation to a Point of Exploitation  Once a victim is recruited or abducted, they are often transferred from the point of recruitment or abduction to a destination where they will be exploited for labor or sex. This movement can be across town, within a country’s borders, or across borders, and can take place by land, sea or air. In some instances, victims are also transported as cargo -- typically by truck or boat. While the term “trafficking” suggests movement, a victim can be trafficked into forced labor without even leaving his or her own home. 

3.Exploitiation Finally, victims arrive at the location where their exploitation will take place, whether it is for commercial sex or labor. The exploitation of human beings can take place in any market where there is demand for commercial sex or cheap labor: victims are often exploited in the agricultural industry, private households, beauty parlors, nail salons, cleaning companies, restaurants, and beyond


How do we recognize the signs of human trafficking? The first step is to be conscious that human trafficking exists and takes place in any environment. Many times it the people that we don’t see or give a second look at as we go about our lives. We have to be able to read small subtle clues, body language, and verbal, written, or implied communications. Here are some of the indicators of a person who is being trafficked:

  • Show signs that their movement is controlled

  • Have false identity or travel documents

  • Not know their home or work address

  • Have no access to their earnings

  • Be unable to negotiate working conditions

  • Work excessively long hours over long periods

  • Have limited or no social interaction

  • Have limited contact with their families or with people outside of their immediate environment

  • Think that they are bonded by debt


Other physical and emotional indictors include:

  • Appearing malnourished

  • Showing signs of physical injuries and abuse

  • Avoiding eye contact, social interaction, and authority figures/law enforcement

  • Seeming to adhere to scripted or rehearsed responses in social interaction

  • Lacking official identification documents

  • Appearing destitute/lacking personal possessions

  • Working excessively long hours

  • Living at place of employment

  • Checking into hotels/motels with older males, and referring to those males as boyfriend or “daddy,” which is often street slang for pimp

  • Poor physical or dental health 

  • Tattoos/ branding on the neck and/or lower back

  • Untreated sexually transmitted diseases

  • Small children serving in a family restaurant

  • Security measures that appear to keep people inside an establishment - barbed wire inside of a fence, bars covering the insides of windows

  • Not allowing people to go into public alone, or speak for themselves



If you suspect that someone is in a human trafficking situation contact local police. If you can safely do so get photos, vehicle registrations, addresses, and any other details that seem out of order with normal activity.


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