WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
Human trafficking is modern slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or threats to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act against a person’s will, often for little or no pay, or for something of value such as food, shelter, clothes, or drugs. It is crime whereby traffickers exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children. **All persons under age 18 who exchange sex for something of value are human-trafficking victims regardless of the presence of force, lies, or threats. A child cannot legally consent to commercial sex.
WHO ARE HUMAN TRAFFICKERS?
Human traffickers can be relatives, friends, individuals operating alone, or those affiliated with gangs or criminal organizations (national or transnational). Traffickers often take advantage of the instability caused by natural disasters, conflict, or a pandemic to exploit others. They tend to target marginalized and vulnerable individuals.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
Human trafficking does not discriminate based on age, class, gender, race, education, sexual orientation, or geographical location. It can occur in rural, suburban, and urban communities. Targeted victims may have an unstable home life, a history of sexual or physical abuse, nowhere to live, be a runaway youth, a substance user, have a lack of employment opportunities, or simply be a person who needs belonging and acceptance. Vulnerable individuals may have experienced sexual violence and trauma in the past, homelessness, involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, experienced substance abuse themselves or within their families, or be immigrants, LGBTQ youth, or developmentally or intellectually delayed individuals.
WHERE DOES HUMAN TRAFFICKING HAPPEN?
It’s hard to imagine what many of us think is an international crime can happen in all communities. The Eastern Shore is an attractive place for trafficking because of its geographic location in proximity to transportation routes by land, air, and sea that offer opportunities for human traffickers to go undetected.
In the United States, traffickers compel victims to engage in commercial sex and to work in both legal and illicit industries and sectors, including in hospitality, traveling sales crews, agriculture, janitorial services, construction, landscaping, restaurants, factories, care for persons with disabilities, salon services, massage parlors, retail services, fairs and carnivals, peddling and begging, drug smuggling and distribution, religious institutions, child care, and domestic work.
HOW IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING A CRIME?
The U.S. State Department reports that human traffickers do not need to move a victim across a border for a human trafficking offense to take place. Trafficking in persons is a crime of exploitation and coercion and not movement. Traffickers can use schemes that take victims hundreds of miles away from their homes or exploit them in the same neighborhoods where they were born.