Human Trafficking Still a Problem in U.S.

It may sound shocking, but even in our modern first-world country, the slave trade continues to exist. It’s called human trafficking and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were more than 2,500 cases between 2008 and 2010 alone. This includes instances of sex trafficking, labor trafficking and other unknown forms of sex crimes.

Types of Trafficking

There are several types of trafficking that take place all across the world. According to the State Department, there are an estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide.

Sex trafficking is when an adult or child is forced, coerced or deceived into performing a sexual act or prostituting. It can include women or girls who are forced into prostitution in order to pay a debt.

Labor trafficking is, essentially, forced labor. It can include any person who is forced to work through physical force, psychological threats, coercion, deception, legal abuse and more. Immigrants are particularly at risk for labor trafficking — they can be forced to work or face deportation.

Involuntary domestic servitude: This type of trafficking is more unique, in that it occurs in private residences, when a person is forced to work as a domestic slave or servant. Domestic servitude can often lead to untreated illnesses, sexual abuse and more.

How Trafficking Happens

Trafficking can occur for a number of reasons: It could be financially motivated, enforced by physical or emotional threats or through other more indirect ways.

Typically, trafficking happens through one of these techniques:

  • isolation, including keeping the victim away from their family, their religious community or the public in general;
  • debt bondage, wherein a person is told he or she owes a large debt, and usually this debt increases indiscriminately;
  • physical threats, including the threat of inflicting physical pain or trauma, as well as physically deporting or imprisoning a victim;
  • emotional threats, such as the threat of shaming a victims or their families publicly by bringing to light sexual acts in which they have engaged; and
  • financial threats, by holding victims’ financial assets or money hostage in order to keep them imprisoned or enslaved. This is usually started by “holding their money for safekeeping.”

Recognizing Trafficking

Typically, victims or sex trafficking can be found in massage parlors, bars and strip clubs, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, brothels, and other similar operations where sex crimes occur, while victims of labor trafficking more often are found in commercial agricultural operations; domestic positions, such as childcare or housekeeping; construction work; back-of-house restaurant work, such as dishwashers or custodians; and sweatshops.

Victims of trafficking usually will exhibit one or more of these symptoms: malnourishment, dehydration or inadequate hygiene; untreated medical problems, such as broken bones, cuts or bruises; post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological issues; or sexually transmitted diseases or signs or rape/sexual abuse.

They also may be reluctant to share their identity, be unable to provide IDs or travel documents, and have little to no money on their person. Defense attorneys will represent victims of sex crimes and their families if retribution is sought against their perpetrators.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking in their area should contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 888-3737-888, call 911 or report it to the Miami Federal Bureau of Investigation Office. To learn more about human trafficking and its legal repercussions, call (877) 663-5110 to speak to defense attorneys at Miami’s Falk & Ross PA today.