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> About Human Trafficking

Today, there are an estimated 27 million slaves around the world, including within our DC Area communities.  This new form of modern slavery, also known as human trafficking, has become the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world.  Its perpetrators use powerful methods of force, fraud and coercion to exploit men, women and children through labor and sex trafficking operations.

Who Are the Victims?

Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking. Victims can be:

  • U.S. citizens or foreign nationals
  • Any race
  • Male or female
  • Child or adult of any age
  • Rich or poor
  • Educated or uneducated

It is essential to remember that education, wealth, age, or social standing does not guarantee invulnerability to becoming a victim of human trafficking. Traffickers often prey on people who are hoping for a better life, lack employment opportunities, have an unstable home life, or have a history of sexual abuse - conditions present in all portions of society.

Both foreign national and U.S. citizen victims have been identified in cities, suburbs, and rural areas in all 50 states and in Washington, DC. They are forced to work or provide commercial sex against their will in legal and legitimate business settings as well as underground markets. Some victims are hidden behind locked doors in brothels and factories. In other cases, victims are in plain view, but the widespread lack of awareness of trafficking leads to low levels of victim identification by the people who come into contact with them. For example, women and girls in sex trafficking situations, especially U.S. citizens, are often misidentified as being voluntarily in the sex industry.

Who Are the Traffickers?

Traffickers lure and ensnare individuals into labor and sex trafficking situations by using force, fraud, or coercion. Examples of potential traffickers include:

  • Pimps
  • Brothel owners
  • People who have servants in their homes
  • Small businesses
  • Criminal networks

What Fuels Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is fueled by the demand for the labor, services, and commercial sex acts of human trafficking victims. Traffickers, who are motivated primarily by the goal of making money, force victims into the labor, services, or commercial sex industry because they can generate large profits.

Who Are the Facilitators?

Facilitators include a wide range of individuals, organizations, businesses and corporations, internet sites and practices. What all facilitators have in common is that they enable or support the trafficking industry. Facilitators may include:

  • Landlords
  • Hotels and motels
  • Transportation companies
  • Advertisers
  • Banks and financial services corporations

In some cases, facilitators are aware of their involvement in human trafficking, and the profits they generate outweigh reservations they may have about their role. In other cases, facilitators are unaware and find it difficult to know when they are enabling trafficking to occur.

Top 4 myths about Human Trafficking:

False: Trafficking is forced transportation of people across borders.
True: Trafficking is modern-day slavery through labor/commercial sexual exploitation; it does not require transportation to occur.

False: Trafficking includes only foreign nationals.
True: Many trafficked persons are victims of domestic trafficking -- within the borders of a single country and are themselves nationals of that country.

False: Trafficking is caused by poverty and inequality.
True: Trafficking is not primarily caused by poverty and inequality; this industry is driven by A) the potential for large profit due to high demand B) negligible-to-low risk of prosecution.

False: Trafficking cannot be stopped.
True: Trafficking CAN be stopped. Stopping it requires the collective efforts of government, NGO's, private sector, and the community.  We organize this walk because we believe massive public awareness, increased funding for NGO's, and collaboration among different sectors of society are crucial to stopping Human Trafficking.

Articles about Human Trafficking in the United States and DC area:

Washington Post article about State Legislatures passing anti-trafficking policies.
CNN Story about the role of Craigslist in facilitating sex traficking.  Uses DC areas as primary example.  Features Andrea Powell from FAIRFund, which is one of the partners of this walk.
Local story about a Maryland man charged with trafficking a 12-year old DC girl.
Local story about a Hyattsville man charged with trafficking 19 year old woman.
CNN Story about how a woman who was trafficked.



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