What Is Human Trafficking?

A child holding a ''Not for sale'' sign.
A child holding a ''Not for sale'' sign.

Human trafficking, simply put, makes people into slaves, forcing them or manipulating in a situation of no escape, where they need to work against their own will. While movies most commonly represent human trafficking as exploitation in forms of forced prostitution, that is not always the case. The victims of human trafficking are also forced into physical labor, various criminal acts, and even organ removal. Human trafficking may or may not include traveling across the country borders. It can happen in every country or every community, and the victims can be of any age or gender.

How Do Traffickers Manipulate Their Victims

Apart from intimidation or physical force, human traffickers also use fraud and exploit the economic or emotional vulnerability of their victims. Some victims of trafficking want to escape poverty, financial misfortunes or improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. Psychological manipulation plays a significant part in those cases. The traffickers can offer them a high-paying job and even arrange their accommodation fees if the location is in a different country. Upon arrival, victims notice that the job they applied for does not exist or that the terms of the job are different. With no money, and their personal credentials possibly being withheld, they get forced into a situation of working for their traffickers under various bad conditions.

Human trafficking.
Human trafficking.

What makes this crime less transparent for law enforcement is the fear the victims experience towards their traffickers. Victims may be threatened with violence, and the same might happen to someone from their family. They also might not even speak the language if they happen to be located in a different country. All of that makes it exceptionally hard for the victim to ask for help.

Common Misconceptions About Human Trafficking

While forced prostitution does exist, it is not the only type of human trafficking, which is a common misconception among people. Victims are also often forced into various forms of labor in places that may or may not be illegal, such as massage parlors, construction sites, and hotels. Also, human trafficking should not be confused with people smuggling. While both are illegal acts; human trafficking does not need to happen across the borders of a country. Smuggling people does not mean that the person being moved is going to be exploited in the way that human traffickers exploit their victims.

Usually, the smuggled person is free upon arrival to the desired destination. Still, if the smuggler does use any of the above methods of manipulation to hold the person against their own will, smuggling can very well turn into human trafficking. One other common misconception is that human trafficking does not occur in developed countries such as the United States, but it is important to note that it happens worldwide.


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