Human Trafficking

Sex trafficking within the U.S. is legally defined as commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion or commercial sex acts in which the individual induced to perform commercial sex has not attained 18 years of age. The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the U.S. is between 12 to 14 years old. The following documents summarize the framework of various sex trafficking networks, review the complex methods of control imposed by traffickers, and illustrate the challenges victims face in seeking assistance.

Sex trafficking occurs when people are forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade against their will. Child sex trafficking includes any child involved in commercial sex. Sex traffickers frequently target vulnerable people with histories of abuse and then use violence; threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation keep victims involved in the sex industry. Sex trafficking exists within the broader commercial sex trade, often at much larger rates than most people realize or understand. Sex trafficking has been found in a wide variety of venues of the overall sex industry, including residential brothels disguised as massage parlors, hostess clubs, online escort services and street prostitution.

Labor trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which individuals perform labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Labor trafficking includes situations of debt bondage, forced labor, and involuntary child labor.

Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries. Common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farm workers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions with little to no pay. In the United States, these forms of forced labor are more prevalent than many people realize. However, Polaris Project and others working in the human trafficking field are learning more on a daily basis about the different types of labor trafficking that exist amongst us. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as: “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.”

For more information on Human Trafficking and what you can do, please visit these websites:

Stop Trafficking! (www.stopenslavement.org)

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org/about/human-trafficking)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking)

Human Trafficking