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The Issue

What is human trafficking?

Simply put, human trafficking is modern day slavery.

But there’s nothing simple about the issue. By legal definition, human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of either a commercial sexual act or labor services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion. There are two main forms of human trafficking: labor trafficking and sex trafficking. While both are important issues, the ABOLISH Movement focuses on sex trafficking, and specifically the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), or child sex slavery.

The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary dramatically. Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured in with false promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. These are all trafficking situations that occur in the United States.

Traffickers (also referred to as pimps in some circumstances) frequently target the most vulnerable victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to keep victims involved in the sex industry for their own profit.

What is child sex slavery?

Also referred to as child sex trafficking or the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), child sex slavery refers to sexual activity involving a child in exchange for something of value to the child or another person.

Minors induced into commercial sex are human trafficking victims- regardless if force, fraud, or coercion is present. There is no such thing as a child prostitute.

Why does it matter?

Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.8 million people (the majority of whom are women and girls) trapped in forced sexual exploitation. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center receives reports of human trafficking each year from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. US victims originate from almost every region of the world; in fact, in 2015 the majority were from the United States.

All this to say: Human trafficking might not look like the image you have in your head. Victims walk among us every day, and it’s probably happening right in front of your eyes. Which is why awareness and education are such crucial strategies in the fight against human trafficking. Because victims (particularly children) are unlikely to identify themselves as being trafficked, we must equip community members with the skills and knowledge to recognize signs of trafficking and respond in safe and effective ways. It’s up to us to protect children from sex slavery.

Learn the Signs