What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the exploitation of people through various means. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provides a detailed definition of human trafficking. They write, human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring [sic] or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”.

Simply put, human trafficking occurs when a victim is exploited by a trafficker who is using their power over the victim in a way that controls the victim’s activities. Generally, human trafficking is executed through sex trafficking, labor trafficking, or organ trafficking.


Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, often brings to mind a picture of a person who is bound by chains to their post. However, trafficking, as explained by the definition above, can often be much subtler than popular images of slavery. Often there are no actual chains involved, physical chains that is… There is always something that is keeping the victim in the trafficking situation, whether it be psychological (manipulation, deception, forceful persuasion, threats), physical (addiction, force), cultural (cultural norms), relational (children), as well as the lack of other options for survival.

It is important to note that a victim of human trafficking may not be aware they are in fact involved in trafficking. Many times, victims are persuaded they are doing what they want, without realizing their exploited states.

Trafficking occurs everywhere, and affects all genders and ages.

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