“Trafficking is one of the most egregious violations of human rights facing the United Nations.” Kofi Annan.
- Human trafficking is defined as ‘the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for commercial sex, 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.’ (Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000).
- About 700,000 persons, primarily women and children, are trafficked annually within or across international borders.
- It is not necessary for a victim to cross a border. Women and children, who are domestically trafficked for prostitution and/or forced labor within their own countries, are considered trafficked. Youth under age 18, who are involved in prostitution, are also considered trafficked.
- The criminal means by which trafficking takes place include not only force, abduction, or deception, but also less explicit means, such as abuse of a victim’s vulnerability.
- Women and children are the key target groups because of their marginalization, limited economic resources and predominance in the ‘invisible’ informal labor sector.
- Trafficked victims frequently come from less developed countries and are taken to more developed countries. They are often promised opportunity or employment by traffickers, only to be coerced into, prostitution or involuntary servitude once away from home.
- Root causes of trafficking include greed, demand for sex or for cheap products, economic or political instability, corruption, and myriad other social factors.
- Criminal groups engage in human trafficking because it is highly profitable and less risky, Unlike the trafficking of other ‘commodities’, people can be sold repeatedly without a large capital investment.
- The United States is one of the destination countries. Victims of trafficking originate from such nations as Russia, the Ukraine, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, the Czech Republic, Mexico and India.
- Traffickers move women and children into the U.S. through many ports of entry: Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco. Recently, traffickers have extended their operations to Atlanta, Cleveland, Houston, Orlando, and Washington, D.C.
- In recent major trafficking cases, there have been reports of trafficking instances in every state, with most cases occurring in New York, California, Texas and Florida.
- All trafficked victims are protected under law, not only those who prove force.
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