How Victims are Trafficked

Many victims of trafficking are exploited for purposes of commercial sex, including prostitution, stripping, pornography and live-sex shows. However, trafficking also takes place as labor exploitation, such as domestic servitude, sweatshop factories, or migrant agricultural work. Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to compel women, men and children to engage in these activities.

Force involves the use of rape, beatings and confinement to control victims. Forceful violence is used especially during the early stages of victimization, known as the ‘seasoning process’, which is used to break victim’s resistance to make them easier to control.

Fraud often involves false offers that induce people into trafficking situations. For example, women and children will reply to advertisements promising jobs as waitresses, maids and dancers in other countries and are then trafficked for purposes of prostitution once they arrive at their destinations.

Coercion involves threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint of, any person; any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

Victims of trafficking are often subjected to debt-bondage, usually in the context of paying off transportation fees into the destination countries. Traffickers often threaten victims with injury or death, or the safety of the victims’ family back home. Traffickers commonly take away the victims’ travel documents and isolate them to make escape more difficult.

Victims do not realize that their debts are often legally unenforceable and, in any event, that it is illegal for traffickers to dictate how they have to pay off their debts. In many cases, the victims are trapped into a cycle of debt because they have to pay for all living expenses in addition to the initial transportation expenses. Fines for not meeting daily quotas of service or “bad” behavior are also used by some trafficking operations to increase debt. Most trafficked victims rarely see the money they are supposedly earning and may not even know the specific amount of their debt. Even if the victims sense that debt-bondage is unjust, it is difficult for them to find help because of language, social, and physical barriers that keep them from obtaining assistance.

(Article taken from the US Department of Health and Human Services)

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