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How Does Sex Trafficking Work



Many myths and misconceptions exist. Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.




how does sex trafficking work


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The safety of the public as well as the victim is important. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.


Traffickers come from all genders, races, ethnicities and walks of life. In sex trafficking situations, they may be intimate partners or spouses of the victims, family members, friends or benefactors, business acquaintances and bosses.


Anyone can be trafficked, but some people are far more vulnerable than others because they have greater needs. These include people living in poverty or in unstable housing situations, as well as people with a history of trauma or addiction. Because of current and historic discrimination and inequity, people of color, immigrants, and people who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to be exploited for these vulnerabilities and face trafficking.


Sex trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to sell sex. It is not something you can see happening across a crowded room. Learn more about potential red flags and indicators, including real-life examples.


Labor trafficking most often begins with a simple job offer. It becomes trafficking when pay or working conditions are abusive and the worker cannot quit or complain because the boss is threatening them or exploiting their desperate economic circumstances. Kidnapping or physical force are rarely part of how labor trafficking situations begin.


Labor trafficking is the crime of using force, fraud or coercion to induce another individual to work or provide service. Learn more about potential red flags and indicators, including real-life examples.


As the U.S. anti-trafficking movement has grown in our understanding of this diverse and complex crime, we are learning more about how specific people, such as medical professionals, teachers, truck drivers, and restaurant personnel, in addition to friends and family members, can help identify and report possible trafficking. Everyone can help by learning the types of trafficking and paying attention to the people around us.


Anyone can experience trafficking in any community, just as anyone can be the victim of any kind of crime. While it can happen to anyone, evidence suggests that people of color and LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience trafficking than other demographic groups. Generational trauma, historic oppression, discrimination, and other societal factors and inequities create community-wide vulnerabilities. Traffickers recognize and take advantage of people who are vulnerable.


Sex trafficking occurs when individuals are made to perform commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Any child under 18 who is involved in commercial sex is legally a victim of trafficking, regardless of whether there is a third party involved.


If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.


This online Referral Directory is made up of anti-trafficking organizations and programs that offer emergency, transitional, or long-term services to victims and survivors of human trafficking as well as those that provide resources and opportunities in the anti-trafficking field.


2) Speak Up! Sexual exploitation and forced labor are driven by demand. Become an advocate for women and girls who are exploited in the commercial sex industry and for those who are being enslaved by their employers. Start a dialogue with your kids, coworkers and neighbors about human trafficking.


3) Challenge it on a local, provincial and federal level. Find out what your representatives are doing to address human trafficking in Canada. Choose to support ethical business practices that produce goods and services that are free of slavery and that promote supply chain transparency.


4) Stop it, if you suspect this is happening in your community or to someone you know. Call police, crime stoppers or a sexual assault line. Here is a list of numbers to call and resources for victims and families. You can also volunteer your time with a front-line organization assisting survivors of human trafficking.


If you witness suspected human trafficking or other forms of exploitation, speak up. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been a national leader in advocacy and education efforts related to sex and labor trafficking. These resources can help you take action if you believe there are human trafficking victims in your community. Human trafficking may be a crime against humanity, but as a human you can be the light.


These present-day slaves are the victims of human trafficking. Traffickers use force and fraud to compel their victims into forced labor or sexual exploitation. Here's how that might work: A woman in a poor, Eastern European country sees a billboard advertising glamorous waitressing jobs in Paris or New York City. Eager for a chance to work in an affluent country, where people make their own destinies, she calls the number on the billboard. She's told that for $3,000, a company will take her to Paris or New York, where she can claim the waitressing job. She ponies up the money, or agrees to pay the company out of her waitressing earnings, and boards a plane.


When the plane lands, however, that woman isn't taken to a café or a restaurant. Instead, she's taken to a brothel, where she's sold to the owner and forced to become a prostitute. She must pay off that $3,000, she is told, in addition to her daily room and board. She's in a country where she knows no one, where she has no official paperwork and where she's been threatened with violence or death if she runs away from the brothel. If she's not taken to a brothel, she might be taken to a sweatshop, where she works alongside small children for 15 hours a day. She might work in a private home, tending to a family's needs; unlike a nanny or a housekeeper, however, she'll never receive a paycheck or a chance to talk to her family again.


Human trafficking claims many victims -- men, women and children from all over the world. It's a crime that many people want to put an end to, but it will be no easy task. In this article, we'll take a closer look at human trafficking and the struggle to stop it.


Discussions of human trafficking are generally divided into two components: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking tends to garner more headlines in the media due to its sensational nature, but labor trafficking is more common. Victims of labor trafficking might work in sweatshops, agriculture, mines, construction, service industries and restaurants. Younger victims may be exploited for their innocent looks and forced to beg on the street all day, with all the funds going to their captors, or they may be enlisted in armies as child soldiers. Working conditions, as you might imagine, are usually primitive and exploitative, and the workers are at great risk of physical injury.


Sex trafficking victims are forced into prostitution, pornography and other commercial sex acts, such as performing in sex shows -- and they might have to perform sexual acts for dozens of men a night. They may live in what looks from the outside like a private home, but is known locally to be an operating brothel; they may also be transported from city to city as local men tire of them. These girls and women bring in tens of thousands of dollars for their captors each year; for example, the average annual salary in Bulgaria is $2,600, but a prostitute in that area can earn $23,500 for her trafficker [source: Madslien]. In industrialized countries, a woman could earn even more.


While trafficking victims may be forced into different types of work during the day, they're linked by the psychological damage done to them as well as the ways in which they're forced to perform this work. On the next page, we'll examine how traffickers capture their victims.


Force refers to how traffickers gather their victims, as well as how they maintain control over them. For example, some human trafficking victims are kidnapped, and once enslaved, traffickers use tactics like rape, physical abuse, food and sleep deprivation, or drug administration to control and condition them. The traffickers usually keep their victims under lock and key, complete with guards who become violent if anyone tries to escape.


In the introduction, we talked a little bit about how fraud works in human trafficking. In addition to luring victims with the promise of a good job or a better life, traffickers may also approach poor families and offer to send their children to countries where they'll be able to get an education and live with a loving family, only to sell the children to a diamond mine. When fraud is used in this way, the victim's initial consent becomes invalid.


Traffickers often use fraud -- by setting a price for travel or shelter, and ordering the victim to pay it off through prostitution or forced labor -- to convince their victims to work. Such a practice is illegal; you can't dictate how a debt has to be paid off. However, victims don't know this, or they may lack the math skills to notice that no matter how much they work, the debt owed never seems to get any smaller. Practices such as these are often called debt bondage.


Lastly, coercion is a powerful tactic in keeping trafficking victims enslaved. Not only do traffickers threaten violence against their captives, they also threaten violence against beloved family members and friends should the slave get out of line. Traffickers may use blackmail: They may threaten to send compromising photographs to the victims' families. In some countries, a woman's loss of virtue would be a black mark on the family's name, or could even result in the victim's arrest or deportation back to a shamed family. Since the captors usually hold their prisoners' travel documents (if there were any), this is a frightening prospect for people in a country where they may not even speak the language. 350c69d7ab


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