Frequently Asked Questions
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is modern day slavery. This is not a metaphor; it is the holding of people through force, fraud or coercion. The two most common kinds of slavery involve forced commercial sex or forced labor. It is usually a hidden crime and victims rarely escape or go to law enforcement for help. They are dependent on others to help them.
What’s the difference between trafficking and smuggling?
Smuggling is voluntary where a person pays another to help them enter a country illegally. Smuggling can turn into trafficking if the trafficker charges more than the victim can pay after the victim gets to the US and is thus forced to work to “pay off the debt”. Smuggling is a crime against the government.
Trafficking is involuntary. The victim is either forced or tricked into bondage. The trafficker holds the victims’ documents, threatens them and/or their families and may physically or mentally harm them. Trafficking is a crime against a person.
Isn’t this just another illegal immigration issue?
No, human trafficking can happen to anyone, including US citizens, such as homeless people, people who are in financial difficulty looking for a job that will make them quick money, runaway children or “missing” children or even children who feel upset with themselves, their families or friends. While victims often start as illegal immigrants, once they are held against their will, they become trafficking victims.
Domestic minor sex trafficking which affects American children is now recognized as one of the major areas where citizens can make a diffeernce. Often treated as criminals, delinquents or prostitutes, these children are defacto victims of trafficking under the federal law. Educating law enforcement, human service providers, doctors, teachers, parents and grandparents as well as children themselves is a way to prevent trafficking and to help those who have been victimized.
Who are these victims?
80% of the victims are women and over 50% are children. Even labor trafficking, often considered a male dominated problem, is now considered to be dominated by women worldwide. In the US, 32% of all labor trafficking victims are women. Many female labor trafficking victims are also forced to perform sex acts for money. Most victims are so ashamed at what they have been forced to do or so fearful of U.S. law enforcement, they will not admit that they are victims.
Not all victims are from another country. Many victims in the United States and other countries are actually citizens of that country. It is estimated that 32% of all American females involved in the sex trade in the US are minors. It is typical that the trafficker is from the same ethnic or national community as the victim: Americans prey on Americans, Mexicans on Mexicans and so on, but traffickers take advantage of anyone. They see these victims as commodities: easy to recruit, cheap to maintain, and readily replaceable. However, because this is such a highly profitable and low risk crime, traffickers are now targeting people, especially children, in their own communities.
How big a problem is it?
- There are 12.5 million slaves in the world today according to the US Trafficking in Persons Report, though some experts put the number as high as 27 million. In absolute numbers, there are more people held in slavery today than during the height of the transatlantic slave trade.
- An estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders yearly, not including millions who are traded within their own country.
- About 80 percent of these victims are females, and 50 percent are children.
- Human Trafficking generates approximately $32 billion internationally annually, making it one of the top 3 international crimes, along with trafficking of drugs and guns.
What has been accomplished so far?
- Over 1600 trafficking cases have been identified in the U.S. since 2000 when the federal law was passed. There were more than 4000 convictions worldwide related to trafficking in the last year.
- Some form of anti-trafficking legislation has been passed in all countries except North Korea and of the 57 American states and territories, 50 have legislation against trafficking.
- Areas with the greatest awareness efforts and proactive and trained law enforcement successfully investigate the most cases and resolve the most cases. For example, in Lee County, FL there was a 75% increase in the number of cases in one year after intensive training of professionals and community education and a proactive human trafficking unit became active.
Statistics taken from State Dept.’s Trafficking in Persons Report 6/11, PolarisProject Policy Alerts and UN documents. All statistics are estimates as human trafficking is a hidden crime, hard to detect and measure.
Where are the Victims?
- In agricultural fields
- In homes, working as nannies, maids, caretakers.
- At restaurants, hotels, resorts, restaurants
- In sweatshops & factories
- At construction sites
- At nail spas, massage parlors, beauty shops
- On the street prostitution or in brothels, especially near military bases or migrant worker housing
- In pornographic films, photos, on the internet
- In your neighborhood, at the mall, at school.
Child Sex Tourism [CST] involves tourists, mostly men who go on "sex vacations". US citizens can be prosecuted under US law even if their crime was committed in another country.
Why don’t they escape on their own?
Victims may not know what city or state they are in and may not speak English. They have become reliant on their captors and are often moved frequently to escape detection and told to avoid relationships. Alternatively, they may be never let out of confinement
They are often too frightened and do not think anyone would help them if they did escape. Often they are ashamed of what they have been forced to do and are afraid to return home. Foreign victims will often be blamed for their crimes, especially if they are undocumented. American victims will be told that they should have known better.
How do traffickers control their victims?
•Violence and Threats of Violence
How can I recognize a victim?
LISTEN INTENTLY & LOOK FOR THE FOLLOWING CLUES
- Evidence of being controlled: physical or psychological
- Evidence of inability to move or leave job
- Poor working conditions
- Overly dependent or fearful of boss, spouse or others around him
- Fear or depression
- Non-English speaking or not allowed to speak to customers
- Recently entered U.S. from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Africa or India
- Observe nonverbal behavior: posture, facial expressions and tone of voice
- Does the victim possess or control their identification documentation?
- Red Flag if a victim does not speak for him or herself
If you suspect that a person may be a victim, DO NOT attempt to rescue that person yourself. Call your local authorities instead and do it immediately.
What are the human trafficking laws?
Federal Law: The Trafficking & Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)
- Designed to Prevent, Protect & Prosecute severe forms of trafficking
Article A: Protects against sexual exploitation for commercial purposes
- It covers people:
- Forced, Tricked, Coerced or
- Any Victim under 18 (even if not forced, coerced, etc.)
Article B: Protects against Forced labor:
- Involuntary servitude
- Personage/Debt bondage
- FORCED LABOR IS: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
- Falls under Homeland Security, with responsibility in the FBI, ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) and the US Dept. of Justice (DOJ)
This law was updated in 2005, 2008 and is in the process of being updated again.
You can influence your state legislators to write a law and get it passed in your state. You can also monitor the enforcement and updating of the law in your state if necessary.
- LIFE SENTENCE FOR:
- Sex Trafficking
- Sexual abuse
- UP TO 20 YEARS FOR:
- Forced Labor
- Trafficking into servitude
- Involuntary servitude
- UP TO 5 YEARS FOR:
- Conspiracy against rights
State laws vary which is why it’s important to get the federal authorities involved.
What happens to rescued victims?
They may be eligible for numerous benefits, regardless of immigration status. Victims from abroad are asked to stay in the country to aid in prosecution. A T-Visa allows trafficked persons residence in the US for 3 years, but can become permanent
Since there is no case without a victim, victims need to be comfortable with prosecutors in order for a case to be made against a trafficker. Children are issued a letter of eligibility entitling them to all the benefits available to refugee children. Most victims receive food stamps, medical and legal benefits and work permits. financial, health, counseling services. Some choose to remain in the US, some choose to return home.
Summary of Current Florida Trends in Combating Human Trafficking: Source: Florida State University Center for Human Rights. For full report, go to: www.fsu.cahr.edu
1. Labor Trafficking is one of the most prevalent form of trafficking in Florida: 1) Agriculture 2) Hospitality and Tourism.
2. Domestic Minor Trafficking is the other most prevalent and is the most under-reported and under-prosecuted human trafficking offense in Florida.
3. Sex trafficking remains a scourge throughout Florida: No longer just conducted within nationalities anymore, but is now “globalized”.
4. Sex trafficking is more complex and nuanced than previously thought. Investigators must really delve into the circumstances to understand the difference between prostitution and sex trafficking.
5. Psychological coercion against trafficking victims assumes many forms and should not be underestimated by law enforcement investigators. “Invisible chains” of threats, debt servitude.
6. Males are increasingly being identified as trafficking victims: Homeless men, foreign national males, gender roles resist the label of victim.
7. After personal safety, housing is the overwhelming need.
8. Fulfilling housing needs of U.S. victims can be more difficult than for foreign victims, especially for domestic minor victims of sex trafficking. Need for “Safe Harbor” law.
9. There is a need for proactive law enforcement work and evidence that it works.
10. There is a need for statewide intelligence database for law enforcement officials of trafficking leads and perpetrators: suspects, known pimps, businesses, brothel networks, labor subcontractors, current leads on cases.
11. Leadership from State Law Enforcement agencies (FDLE) is crucial.
12. Training of veteran law enforcement agents is required.
13. Training for Florida Prosecutors in using the Florida State Law is needed.
14. The Office of the Statewide Prosecutor needs to be more involved as every trafficking case has crossed judicial boundaries. Many involve organized crime, money laundering, violent crime and internet predators.
15. State Agencies need training as it pays off.
16. No matter how good law enforcement efforts are, trafficking can’t be eradicated with a “law enforcement only” approach.
17. Vetting for emerging community groups is necessary. Evidence of some scams and lack of knowledge can be detrimental to the many excellent groups and the work in general.
|What can I read to broaden my understanding about human trafficking and slavery in general?
HTAP's Recommended Reading List
“A Crime So Monstrous” by E. Benjamin Skinner
"Ending Slavery: How we Free Today’s Slaves", Kevin Bales.
“Girls Like Us”, Rachel Lloyd
“Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
“The Johns” by Victor Malarek
"The Natashas” by Victor Malarek
“Nobodies” by John Bowe
"Not for Sale" by David Batsone
“The Slave Across the Street” by Theresa Flores
“The Slave Hunter” by Aaron Cohen and Christine Buckley
“The Slave Next Door” by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter
“Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery” by Siddharth Kara
“Somebody’s Daughter” by Julian Sher
“Stolen Lives” by Jaycee Duggard
The Slave Across the Street, Theresa Flores, 2009.
The Slave Hunter, Aaron Cohen and Christine Buckley, Simon and Schuster, 2009
The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery In America Today, Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter, University of California Press, 2009.
Somebody's Daughter, Julian Sher, 2011
Stolen Lives, Jaycee Duggard, 2011
New Books on Historical Slavery
Carolina Clay: The Life and Legend of the Slave Potter Dave, Leonard Todd, WW Norton, 2008.
Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson, Simon and Shuster Children’s Publishing, 2008.
The Hemmings of Monticello: An American Family, Annette Gordon-Reed, WW Norton, 2008.
Someone Knows My Name, Lawrence Hill, WW Norton, 2007.
To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells, Hill and Wang, 2009..
How can I help?
Spread the word: slavery is here, now, but not to stay if we all do our part:
- Organize your community. This is not a crime which can be avoided through ignorance or inertia or successfully fought without the efforts of law enforcement, human service providers and citizens working together.
- Know how to identify a victim/criminal
- Know who to call
- Encourage police & government officials to work on this issue in your community
- Use your skills and those of your organization to help by
- Advocating for stronger laws, better training and enforcement
- Assisting organizations dedicated to fighting slavery
- Telling as many individuals about the crime as possible
- Organizing awareness campaigns through your church, neighborhoods, service club, social groups. Educate youth about the problem.
- Making a financial contribution to a group combating human trafficking, such as HTAP.