What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons or modern-day slavery, is a crime that involves the exploitation of a person for the purpose of compelled sex or labor. This form of slavery affects millions of people around the world every day. Human trafficking is even happening in the community of Southern Arizona. The Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Task Force (SAATURN) is working with the community to address this important issue.

Forms of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking includes:

Sex Trafficking: A commercial sex act that happens by force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion — or in which a minor* is persuaded to engage in a commercial sex act.

Labor Trafficking: Labor or services of a person obtained through force; threats of force; fraud; coercion; threats of serious harm to another person; abuse or threats of abuse of law or legal process; or any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause a person to believe serious harm would result if labor or services were not provided.

Victims of human trafficking can be anyone, though those who are particularly vulnerable to trafficking include children, runaways, victims of domestic violence, individuals with histories of abuse, and foreign nationals. There are many barriers to someone identifying as a victim of human trafficking often due to fear, shame, and in some instances, danger.

All forms of trafficking typically involve various forms of manipulation and control tactics. Victims of trafficking are exploited and are often compelled by force, fraud, and coercion to perform activities

Human Trafficking vs. Smuggling

The terms trafficking and smuggling are often times confused but they are very different.

Human smuggling is the act of transporting someone across an international border. Human trafficking is non-consensual and typically occurs indefinitely.

Force - Involves the use of physical restraint or physical harm. This may include rape, beatings, or confinement.

Fraud - Involves false promises regarding employment, wages, working conditions or other matters. For example, individuals might travel to another country under the promise of well-paying work at a farm or factory only to find themselves manipulated into forced labor. Others might reply to advertisements promising modeling, nanny, or service industry jobs but are forced into prostitution once they arrive at their destination.

Coercion - Persuading someone to do something by using psychological control.

Frequent Settings for Human Trafficking

Trafficking may occur in these types of places:

  • Agriculture
  • Brothels
  • Construction
  • Domestic work
  • Escort services
  • Hotels & hospitality
  • Landscaping
  • Nail salons and massage parlors
  • Pornography
  • Prostitution
  • Stripping

Recognize the Signs

Signs of human trafficking are all around us. It is important to know what to look for so that you can report human trafficking. You may be able to identify a victim of trafficking if they exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Poor health and the inability to seek care for health concerns
  • Visible injuries such as bruises, scars, or burns
  • Visible tattoos that could be branding marks
  • Carries excess amounts of cash
  • Has hotel room keys
  • Unable to leave their home or work without approval
  • Exhibits fear, anxiety, and/or depression
  • Has false identification or multiple forms of ID
  • Seems unfamiliar with their surroundings
  • Has distrust for authorities
  • Does not know their home address
  • Allows others to speak for them when addressed directly

*Any person under the age of 18 who is engaged in commercial sex acts, regardless of the use of force, fraud, or coercion, is a victim of human trafficking, even if they appear to consent to the commercial sex act.