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What is Human Trafficking?

Labor trafficking 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 subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. 22 U.S.C. §7102(9)(B).

Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age. 22 U.S.C. §7102(9)(A).


Victims of labor trafficking are forced to work under harsh and violent conditions, sometimes around the clock. They are unfairly compensated or not compensated at all; yet, globally, their hard work yields $51 billion USD annually in illegally obtained profits — more than the GDP of many countries.

The lives of these victims are decimated, as they are left traumatized, uneducated, and unskilled. This leaves them vulnerable to further exploitation — a vicious cycle that must be broken.

Labor trafficking victims can be found in restaurants, spas, salons, hotels, door-to-door sales, and hair braiding shops; they are forced to work on construction sites, in mines, factories, the agricultural industry, and even in sports and entertainment. Victims are of different nationalities, races, ages and sexes, but often come from an economically challenged backgrounds.




Human Smuggling is the voluntary transporting of people across borders for the purpose of avoiding immigration laws. It is a consensual, but illegal, business deal obtained by paying a fee to a smuggler.

Human Trafficking is the non-consensual compelling of either labor or commercial sex services obtained through the use of force, fraud, or coercion by a trafficker.

The tables are turned when what starts out as a smuggling deal turns into trafficking. This occurs when the smuggler compels payment, via services provided, from the victim under the duress of force, fraud or coercion. The smuggler-turned-trafficker holds the victim in debt bondage until payment is made in full.


Children are not spared from the horrors of backbreaking work; child trafficking victims are forced to work long hours in fields and in mines, restaurants, hair shops, or homes as domestic servants. They endure exposure to toxic gases on cocoa farms and they risk explosions and tunnel collapses in salt and gold mines, or physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their traffickers.

U.N. Convention 182 on the "Worst Forms of Child Labour," which has been ratified by the U.S., defines violations of child labor as work that is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children; importantly its definition includes the trafficking of children. 

Under U.S. federal law, the definition of labor trafficking does not have a distinction for children under 18 years of age; therefore, there is no crime of "child labor trafficking" in the U.S. There are only "child labor violations" and "labor trafficking." Whether the labor trafficking victim is an adult or a child, U.S. federal law still requires proof of force, fraud, or coercion — unlike its counter part of sex trafficking of children under 18, which requires no proof of force, fraud or coercion — the sale of the minor for sexual exploitation is all that is required for proof under the law.

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