Secretary Hillary Clinton: “Elementary students across America are taught that slavery ended in the 19th Century. But, sadly, nearly 150 years later, the fight to end this global scourge is far from over. Today it takes a different form and we call it by a different name -- “human trafficking” -- but it is still an affront to basic human dignity in the United States and around the world.”
She came from Central America with a Bachelor&apos;s Degree in Business Administration and was in the United States on a tourist visa to work and send money back home to her family. She was taken to a beautiful home in one of the most affluent areas in Southwest Florida and given a job as a housekeeper. Little did she know that she was sold as a domestic slave by the travel agency she went through to come to the United States. Once placed with the family, she could not leave. She asked permission to use the bathroom, and when allowed, had to go outside to the pool bathroom. She slept on the ground in the pool area and was attacked by mosquitoes which left scars all over her body. The traffickers allowed her to eat once a week, so she was forced to wrap small portions of food in plastic to be retrieved later from the garbage can. When rescued through the help of a local pastor, she weighed just 78 lbs. –- This is modern-day slavery. A young woman from Guatemala was kidnapped and brought to Florida by a Guatemalan native. He forced the girl to work long, grueling days in tomato fields and then forced her to have sex with him at night. She was rescued when an alert police officer responding to a domestic disturbance call at the trafficker’s home noticed a young woman cowering in a corner of the room. Suspecting that she could be a trafficking victim, the officer took her to a local domestic violence shelter. - What would have happened to the trafficking victim had the police officer not looked beneath the surface of this situation? That is why we’re discussing this today – to encourage you to look beneath the surface and help us find, rescue and restore trafficking victims.
Recognizing there is a range of knowledge about trafficking and the HHS program, I’m going to start today by providing a brief overview of trafficking itself, followed by a discussion of HHS’ role in the trafficking movement, the resources we offer and how you may be able to assist in our efforts.
Human trafficking is a devastating human rights violation that takes place not only internationally, but also here in the United States. It is a form of modern-day slavery. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to enslave their victims into situations involving sexual exploitation or forced labor. When we put it in terms of crime statistics, after drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world according to the U.S. Department of State. In fact, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today, and it is often operated by organized crime syndicates. (Source: U.S. Departments of State and Justice, 2006)
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is a Federal law designed to protect victims of trafficking and prosecute the trafficker. The law makes human trafficking a Federal crime with stiff penalties. Under the law which was most recently reauthorized in early 2006, traffickers can get 20 years to life in prison – depending on the severity of the offense. It is also the first Federal law recognizing psychological coercion, a tool commonly used by traffickers to exploit their victims. In some cases, traffickers may be required to pay substantial fines as well as full restitution to victims. They may also be subject to forfeiture of their property. Any child under the age of 18 involved in the commercial sex industry is considered to be a victim of human trafficking because in legal terms a child is deemed incapable of consenting to the act. (Source: U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000)
According to the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, the “Action, Means, Purpose” model serves to further explain the Federal view of trafficking, as defined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. Only ONE of the elements from each group needs to be present to constitute human trafficking. For example – if a victim is recruited by physical force to serve as a maid, then they would be considered a victim. Or if a victim is transported and coerced into street prostitution by threatening deportation, then they would be considered a victim. Please note: Under TVPA, minor victims cannot consent to commercial sex acts, making “means” void and unnecessary to determine trafficking. (Source: U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000; Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights; Polaris Project)
There are many misconceptions about domestic human trafficking: Myth: Human trafficking is the same as human smuggling Reality: Smuggling involves unauthorized crossing of a border into another country. Smuggling does not involve coercion, but rather is performed at the request of the alien, who pays a fee for safe, albeit illegal, passage. In it’s simplest form, it involves only transportation. Once arriving into the United States, the smuggler and the smuggled individual go their separate ways. In this case, the smuggled individual is a criminal by law. Human trafficking, on the other hand, may or may not involve the illegal crossing of an international border. Some trafficking victims arrive in the United States with a legitimate Visa that is then confiscated by their trafficker. Myth: Trafficking must involve some form of travel or transportation Reality: The legal definition of trafficking does not require transportation, although it is possible that transportation may be involved in the crime. It is important to note an individual does not have to cross an international border to be considered a trafficking victim. Human trafficking is defined as using force, fraud, or coercion to take away a person’s free will. Myth: Victims are only foreign nationals or immigrants Reality: The Federal definition of human trafficking includes both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. A domestic U.S. victim must still meet requirements under the TVPA to be considered a victim, but there is no difference in services provided for domestic victims versus international victims. Myth: Victims will come forward on their own accord Reality: Victims of trafficking often do not immediately seek help due to lack of trust, self-blame, normalization of exploitation, or physical/psychological restraints used by the trafficker. In Minnesota, a Filipino housekeeper was a victim of forced labor for twenty years. According to reports in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, her employers refused to let her seek medical attention when she was ill and threatened her with deportation if she tried to tell her family back home in the Philippines what was happening. A family friend who became suspicious of the employers tipped off the authorities, and only then was the housekeeper rescued. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice; Polaris Project)
Human trafficking is a horrific international problem, with between 12 and 27 million victims across the world. Trafficking is a lucrative business for traffickers. It was estimated that last year, traffickers brought in 32 billion dollars, second only to earnings brought in by the drug trade. This is not just a problem for poor nations. Trafficking takes place everywhere, the United States included. The U.S. State Department estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 victims are trafficked into the U.S. each year. The majority of trafficking victims come to the United States from Southeast Asia, Latin America, the former Soviet Union, Africa and other developing countries. Panama is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution. Although some Panamanian women and girls are found in forced prostitution in other countries in Latin America and in Europe, most Panamanian trafficking victims are exploited within the country. Although statistics were lacking, both NGOs and government officials anecdotally reported that commercial sexual exploitation of children was greater in rural areas and in the city of Colon than in Panama City. NGOs report that some Panamanian children, mostly young girls, are subjected to involuntary domestic servitude. Most foreign sex trafficking victims are adult women from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and neighboring Central American countries; some victims migrate voluntarily to Panama to work but are subsequently forced into prostitution. Weak controls along Panama’s borders make the nation an easy transit point for irregular migrants, from Latin America, East Africa, and Asia, some of who may fall victim to human trafficking. (Source: U.S. Departments of State and Justice, 2006)
Women and girls account for 80% of victims. 50% of all victims are minors - girls and boys under the age of 18. Source: U.S. Departments of State and Justice, 2006)
There are two kinds of human trafficking – sex and labor. We will discuss some commonly observed forms of sex and labor trafficking, where they might occur and some of the signs a victim may display.
Sex trafficking is by far the most common form of human trafficking – some 70 percent of women trafficked internationally end up in the sex trade. Sex trafficking occurs in the U.S., not just internationally. Adult trafficking victims are forced into the commercial sex industry through force, fraud and/or coercion. When it comes to children, it is important to note that the U.S. anti-trafficking law (TVPA) considers any child under the age of 18 involved in the commercial sex industry to be a victim of human trafficking because in legal terms a child is deemed incapable of consenting to the act. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice; Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights)
Sex trafficking operations occur in highly visible venues such as street prostitution, as well as more underground locations such as closed-brothel systems that operate out of residential homes. Sex trafficking also takes place in a variety of public and private locations such as massage parlors, spas, strip clubs and other fronts for prostitution. Victims may start off dancing or stripping in clubs and are often coerced into more exploitative situations of prostitution and pornography. Latino Cantina bars and Asian massage parlors may be “closed” to the public meaning that only those ethnicities are allowed access (Source: U.S. Departments of State and Justice, 2006; Polaris Project)
Force, fraud and coercion are also used by traffickers to exploit their victims in forced labor situations. Labor trafficking occurs in various forms including domestic servitude such as nannies and maids, sweatshop factories, janitorial jobs, construction sites, migrant farm work, in service industries like restaurants and hotels, and even for panhandling. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice; Polaris Project)
Methods that are used can lead to clues than can help identify victims. Here are some clues that may indicate someone is a victim. The individual is living at the workplace or with an employer. The person is living with multiple people in a cramped space. The person is working unusually long hours for little or no pay. The employer or trafficker is holding the individual’s identity and/or travel documents. The child victim is not in school or has a significant gap of schooling in the United States. Rarely are trafficking victims allowed to go to school. Often there are physical signs of battering and/or psychological effects the victim experiences. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice; University of California-Berkeley Human Rights Center)
Field questions and answers
“A degradation of our common
humanity.” – President Barack
Let’s take a look
“ Lack of public awareness
facilitates human trafficking
because it is still a largely
hidden social problem. It is up to
us as a society to look for
victims and help them. ”
Dr. Wade F. Horn, Ph.D.
Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
“An Introduction to Human
• Human Trafficking Defined
• Forms of Human Trafficking
• Questions and Discussion
What Is Human Trafficking?
• Modern-day slavery
• Defined by force, fraud or coercion
• Occurs across the globe
• Fastest growing criminal industry
What Is Human Trafficking?
• The Trafficking Victims Protection Act
(TVPA) of 2000 made human trafficking
a Federal crime in the United States
• Key provisions for victims
Identified as victims, not criminals
Helps victims rebuild their lives in the U.S. with
food, shelter, and medical assistance
Minors in commercial sex act are by law a victim
What Is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the same as human
Trafficking must involve some form of travel or
Victims are only foreign nationals or immigrants
Victims will come forward on their own accord
Other Common Myths
• Only a small number of people are
victims of human trafficking.
• Human trafficking is a problem for
developing nations only.
• Trafficking doesn’t happen in Panama.
Behind Closed Doors:
• Commercial sexual exploitation of
adults by force, fraud, coercion
• Any commercial sex of children
(persons under the age of 18)
Behind Closed Doors:
• Commonly observed forms of sex
Exotic dancing bars
Asian massage parlors
Behind Closed Doors:
• Exploitation of adults or children for labor
using force, fraud, coercion
• Commonly observed forms of labor trafficking
Migrant farm work
Portrait of a Victim: The Clues
• Living at workplace or with employer
• Housed with multiple people, cramped
• Working long hours; little to no pay
• No identification, travel documents
• Children not in school
• Physical signs of abuse and/or
Questions and Answers