What is Human Trafficking?

The UN defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

According to the UNODC, “exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

What is Sex Trafficking?

Sex trafficking is defined by the United States government as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtainment of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act” (Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000).

Under United States federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

Who Are the Victims of Human Trafficking?​​

Victims of trafficking can be any age and any gender. However, a disproportionate number of victims of human trafficking are women. Vulnerable populations frequently targeted by traffickers include runaway and homeless youth, refugees and immigrants, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, and other forms of social discrimination.

​How Are Individuals Trafficked?

There are many avenues in which an individual is trafficked:

  • Romantic involvement with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution
  • False promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing
  • Parents or other family members force individuals into selling sex

​Victims may be involved in a trafficking situation for a few days or weeks, or may remain in the same trafficking situation for years. Sex trafficking occurs in a range of venues including fake massage businesses, via online ads or escort services, in residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or in hotels and motels.