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Human Trafficking: Victimization in a Shadow World

by CHWatch on March 19, 2011

Human trafficking includes illegal immigration smuggling but extends beyond that single application. Human trafficking can be defined as the illegal transportation, harboring, sale or barter of human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery or organ harvest. Women and children compose the vast majority of victims. Most of the victims of any age or gender are coerced, kidnapped, stolen or drugged and usually smuggled into another country and sold, bought or traded.

They then may or will be marketed underground, placed in a Craigslist list or magazine ads including pics and/or information about the women/child and the sexual services they provide!

Global Extent
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, sitting in third place behind gun running and drugs. It’s estimated to generate approximately $42.5 billion annually. The United Nations estimates that more than 12 million people from 127 countries are victims of this horrible crime.

In a combined effort to stem the problem, many countries around the world joined in creating and tightening legislation against it.

In 2000, the United States passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) that instituted a three-part ranking system of 177 countries and their governmental actions against human trafficking. Tier 1 consists of those countries who: first, recognize the problem, and, second, have made efforts to address the issue to VTVPA minimum standards. Tier 2 countries are those that recognize the problem and have taken action but do not yet meet VTVPA standards. Tier 3 countries are those that have not met the minimum standards and have not attempted to meet them. The United States included itself in the report for the first time in 2010. The country was ranked Tier 1.

The U.S. also adopted the Palermo Protocol in 2000 that criminalized all facets and applications of human trafficking and allows federal prosecution of any and all parties responsible.

U.S. Extent
Not only has the nation passed strict and unforgiving laws against human trafficking, but 44 states in the union have also passed individual and specific laws against it.

Despite the legislative actions by both state and national governments, trafficking still exists in the United States. Victims include both international victims imported to the U.S. and its own citizens, primary domestic-use targets of which are teenaged runaways and homeless people. Domestic victims can be kept within the country or exported.

Victims most often smuggled out of the U.S. for international sale are usually teenaged and adult women who become forcefully immersed in the sex trade.

Domestic trafficking projections note an estimated 50,000 women and children are smuggled into the U.S. each year, the women primarily as prostitutes and the children as domestic or factory slaves. One trafficking arrest raid in 2009 discovered Guatemalan victims as young as 12 years old involved in a sex-for-hire and pornography ring.

Take Action
Human trafficking can affect anyone at any time. A simple trip to the grocery store can terminate in Thailand or China. A child stolen off the sidewalk in front of his or her home can be drugged and made to perform sex acts in South America—or the South Bronx, for example. If you see or suspect human trafficking, take action. If you have helped a trafficking victim escape or know of human trafficking victims, contact the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force complaint line at (888) 428-7581, which has both voice and TTY services, to report it.

About the Author

JC Ryan is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses they can choose from to reach their goals as they go back to college.

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