Human Trafficking 

Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only second to drugs. The most commonly accepted international definition of human trafficking can be found in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons created by the United Nations:

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. 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.

The United Nations has identified three key elements of Human Trafficking: The Act (what is done), The Means (how it is done), and The Purpose (why it is done).  The chart below created by the UN explains each element.

 Internet Prostitution 

Researcher Deborah Hughes argues that the rapid growth of the Internet since the mid 1990’s can be largely attributed to the sex industry. In 2000 in her article The Internet and Sex Industries: Partners in Global Sexual Exploitation, Hughes reported that the sex industry was among the top five groups buying state-of-the-art computer equipment.  Furthermore, in the same report she explained that in 1998 1 billion dollars (69% of Internet content sales) was spent on online “adult content” (including pornography, prostitution ads, and strip club ads, etc.).

The Internet has lead to an increased accessibility to prostitution and has been key in bringing sex trafficking to an all-time high. The Internet has been identified as the number one resource for the buying and selling of prostituted persons in the United States today. Buying sex is simply a click away. The Polaris Project identified three unique reasons why the internet is such a big supporter of human trafficking: first, a code language is used to disguise illegal prostitution; second, anyone can post ad’s and everyone has access to them; and lastly, the huge volume of ad’s that are posted.

AIM, the worlds leading consultancy in interactive media and classified advertising, tracks 5 websites that advertise prostitution services. AIM reported that in the past year these 5 websites have generated at least $37.2 million for escort and body rub ads. AIM reports that 80 percent of this total can be attributed to backpage.com, the leading website for Internet prostitution sales. Nicholas Kristof, a respected OP-ED columnist for the New York Times, states that it appears that backpage.com as “THE biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States.” In April, Kristof wrote an article of a 12-year old girl who was sex-trafficked in the US, sold on backpage.com. You can read her story here.    

 Immigration Status

Undocumented immigrates are one of the most vulnerable populations to fall victim trafficking within the United States. Since undocumented immigrants are in the state illegally, they are unaware of their rights and are afraid to report any mistreatment for fear of deportation or jail. Traffickers take advantage of undocumented immigrants perceived inability to go to the police. Sometimes it is difficult for law enforcement to differentiate between illegal immigrants and Human Trafficking Victims. In some cases victims are treated as illegal immigrants and punished instead of provided assistance.

Efforts have been made by the U.S. to protect and identify undocumented immigrants that have fallen victim to human trafficking. One of the key goals in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) is to identify victims and make sure they are treated properly, not deported back into their country or given prison time. Victims of trafficking have the ability to get immigration relief. The T Nonimmigrant Status (T Visa) or U Nonimmigrant Status (U Visa) are offered to undocumented immigrants who are victims of trafficking or another serious crime such as rape, murder, or domestic violence. This visa allows the immigrant to legally stay in the United States and assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the crimes committed against them. These steps have been taken to protect undocumented individuals from being exploited due to their immigration status. However, many undocumented immigrants are unaware of these possibilities for help and therefore do not take advantage of them.

2 Responses to ABC’s of Trafficking: Human Trafficking, Internet Prostitution, Immigration Status

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