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Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the criminal exploitation for profit of women and girls, and men and boys for commercial sex and forced labor. Traffickers use force, fraud, and coercion to entrap their victims and compel them to work in exploitative conditions for the traffickers’ enrichment. Human trafficking occurs all around the world, including in the United States. Victims can be women, men, and transgender individuals; adults and youth; Americans and foreign nationals.

Force, Fraud, and Coercion

Force includes physical abuse, sexual violence, kidnapping, and physical confinement. Fraud involves deception and false promises; for example, convincing someone that they’re bound by a phony contract or that they need to work to pay off a false debt. Coercion includes threats and psychological manipulation. Often traffickers will threaten violence and other types of harm against the victim or the victim’s children and family should the victim try to escape the trafficker’s control.

Sex Trafficking

Under United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 200, sex trafficking of a person aged 18 or older involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to entrap that person in commercial sex. If the person is under the age of 18, causing that person to engage in commercial sex constitutes human trafficking, regardless of how or why they became involved. Although the majority of sex trafficking victims are women and girls, men and boys also experience sex trafficking.

Labor Trafficking

Labor trafficking is also defined under United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.. Labor trafficking, or “forced labor,” involves using force, fraud, or coercion to cause someone to work in exploitative conditions in industries such as construction, agriculture, hospitality, salons, restaurants, and as domestic servants in people’s homes.

Trafficking in the United States

Foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States mainly from Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Traffickers prey people’s vulnerabilities—their hopes for an education, a job, and a better life in the United States. Except once they arrive in the United States, they are forced into the commercial sex industry and forced labor.

Americans are also trafficked in the United States. Traffickers profit off of the sex trafficking of the most vulnerable youth in the U.S., including those who are homeless, have run away, have a history of abuse, or are in the child welfare system.

UMD SAFE Center Team Statement on Racial Injustice

The UMD SAFE Center decries the structural racism that remains as a toxic legacy of our country’s history and permeates our society today, and we are working to ensure that we are an actively anti-racist institution.