Important Information About Trafficking in Persons (from vitalvoices.org toolkit)
• Trafficking in persons is the illegal trade in human beings, through abduction, the use or threat of force, deception, fraud or “sale” for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor. This horrific human rights violation is modern-day slavery.
• 600,000 – 800,000 people are trafficked internationally every year.
• Each year 14,500 to 17,500 trafficking victims end up in slavery right here in the United States.
• Most are women and children.
• Trafficking victims have been found in cities and rural areas all across America.
• People are lured from countries with high rates of poverty and violence in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America and tricked into believing better opportunities await them in the U.S. and other destination countries. Once there, instead of finding opportunity, they are held in slavery-like conditions, imprisoned, raped, beaten, starved, and forced into prostitution, domestic service, and forced labor.
• Much like drug trafficking, trafficking in persons is a multinational, organized criminal industry that generates billions of dollars a year.
• A person who has been trafficked is considered a victim of a serious crime under U.S. law and has the right to protection and assistance under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and its Reauthorization of 2003 and 2005. This law provides for the protection of victims in the U.S., including medical care and shelter services.
How can I recognize a person who has been trafficked?
• There is no single way to identify a victim of trafficking. Trafficking is mainly a hidden problem, although many trafficking victims are in plain sight. The women and girls who are trafficked are often kept isolated and away from people who might be able to help them. If they are allowed to go out, their travel or activities may be restricted and they typically are watched, escorted, or guarded by associates of the traffickers. Traffickers may “coach” them to answer questions with a cover story about being a student or tourist.
• Trafficking victims may be found in a range of activities. Many are tricked or forced into prostitution or other illicit sexual activity. Others are forced to work in restaurants, agriculture, hotels and domestic service.
• Trafficking victims are often raped, beaten, imprisoned, tortured, and made to live in life-threatening conditions. They and their families back home are often threatened with death if they try to escape to safety. Trafficking victims live in fear and often will not initially acknowledge that they have been held in slavery-like conditions or how they have received their injuries.
• Trafficking victims often do not have their passports or other travel or immigration documents, because their abductors have confiscated them. Trafficking victims also rarely have access to means of communications such as phones.
• Trafficking victims may be found in any community across the United States.