January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month. January was first designated in 2010 to increase awareness of human trafficking. Here at CASA, we provide advocates for various cases, including those involving aspects of human trafficking. With a lot of media attention and people speaking about human trafficking, we believe it is worth it to dispel some myths as well as give a bigger picture of what human trafficking looks like.
What is Human Trafficking?
The Department of Homeland Security defines Human Trafficking as “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.”
Who are the survivors of human trafficking?
When we talk about human trafficking, people often think of the movement of women or girls for non-consensual commercial sex. Having this view on human trafficking is understandable, as popular media focuses on the stories of female and young survivors. However, according to the Polaris Project, 35% of total survivors of human trafficking were not female. A majority of non-female survivors were being trafficked for labor purposes. Much like child abuse and neglect cases, there is not a single set of risk factors that could lead one to being trafficked. Survivors come from all walks of life in the United States and other countries.
What does it look like?
Often media portrays human traffickers as strangers who force people into these situations. According to the Polaris Project, in 2021, approximately 91% of human trafficking survivors had a close or previous relationship with their trafficker. Similar to grooming practices with sexual abuse cases, human traffickers do not start out with trafficking immediately. Usually, it is a slow increase in behaviors and pushing their limits until the survivor is involved in trafficking. Regarding trafficking across countries' borders, citizenship or gainful employment can be promised. Another way people are coerced is through access to addictive substances.
If you take one thing away from our blog, let it be this: there is no set victimology. There is no one set way that people become trafficked. Survivors come from every walk of life; think about those in our farm fields, those who engage in commercial sex acts, and those who build our large commercial properties. Please support systems in place that assist people out of these situations.
Check out these national resources for more information on human trafficking!
Helping Survivors https://helpingsurvivors.org/