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What Do We Mean by Human Trafficking?

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, or TVPA, human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purpose of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. According to federal law, “a commercial sex act means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. Anything of value could include food, shelter, protection, gifts, or clothing. Where a person younger than 18 is induced to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion.”​

Human trafficking occurs when a trafficker exploits a vulnerable person by using force, fraud, or coercion to make them perform compelled labor or commercial sex. There are two types of trafficking: labor and sex. ​

Labor Trafficking​

  • ​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 subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery (22 U.S.C. § 7102).

Sex Trafficking

  • The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age. In the TVPA, the term “commercial sex act” means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 , or JVTA, expanded the definition of sex trafficking to include the soliciting and patronizing of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act (22 U.S.C. § 7102).

​A report from Polaris, The Typology of Modern Slavery, further breaks down instances of labor and sex trafficking into 25 distinct categories, detailing the unique trafficker profile, recruitment tactics, victim profile, and method of control for each subset of modern slavery.

Know The Difference

How do fraud, coercion, and force relate to human trafficking? What is the difference between trafficking and smuggling? The Office on Trafficking in Persons developed a factsheet that outlines key characteristics and common terminology related to human trafficking.

Diagram showing the comparison between trafficking and smuggling
1.Trafficking: Crime against a person, victims either do not consent to their situations, or if they initially consent, the situation shifts and they are made to do something against their will, Exploitation of victims to generate illicit profits for the traffickers, Trafficking need not entail the physical movement of a person (but must entail the labor or sexual exploitation of the person), An individual being smuggled across a nation's border can be vulnerable to trafficking. 2. Smuggling: Crime against a country, The transaction is mutual and ends upon arrival at desired destination, Business arrangement between smuggler and person wanting to facilitate the illicit crossing of a nation's border, Smuggling always involves transnational physical movement, An individual being smuggled across a nation's border can be vulnerable to trafficking.
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA)

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, or TVPA, provides a framework to identify and help individuals who may have experienced trafficking. Human trafficking is a crime, which the TVPA breaks into three parts: Action, Means, and Purpose.  In a court of law, one of each of these elements needs to be proven for a successful prosecution.  The exception is that when minors (anyone under 18 years of age) are induced into commercial sex, it is considered human trafficking regardless of the means. To clarify, we want you to understand the legal definition, but we know it’s not your role to make legal determinations. This framework helps providers recognize signs of trafficking and connect individuals to resources.

TVPA

 

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