What is Human Trafficking?

Written by: Dr.Success
Updated: Oct 19, 2023
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Human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights. It involves forcibly transporting, buying, or coercing individuals into situations of exploitation, be it forced labor, sexual exploitation, or other forms of servitude. This modern-day form of slavery is complex, with traffickers using deceit, threats, and violence to control their victims. This topic explores the global dimensions of trafficking, its various manifestations, the vulnerable populations it targets, and the profound physical and psychological impacts on its victims. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Abuse topic.

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Well, human trafficking is any form of recruiting, transporting, or kidnapping, in which the intent is to be held against will, threat, or coercion with payments or benefits to control another person for exploitation. Human trafficking can be practiced in various ways, such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, slavery of different forms, and organ trafficking (1). One issue the U.S. has with this topic is that there is such a small number of victims and their traffickers, which creates contradicting views of anti-trafficking policies.

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To some extent, it downplays the issues of trafficking, and if anti-trafficking policies are being made with a limited number of statistics being reported, the situation would seem exaggerated.

Sex trafficking entails prostitution, so politicians struggle with policies that do not infringe on individual freedoms. Prostitution is misrepresented, portraying these women as powerless and at risk of being vulnerable compared to a child (2). Categorizing prostitution as sex trafficking to some extent can be true, but some women choose prostitution as a form of income without being harmed or coercive. It leads to the issue of making legislation that doesn’t take away the freedoms of individuals who choose this lifestyle but saves those who are being bribed, forced, coerced, and exploited. According to A. Farrell and S. Fahy not acknowledging poverty, gender inequality, global economic policies, ethnic conflicts, and changing economies, which is the starting point for how human trafficking develops, government (2).

Human trafficking has been associated with women and girls being forced into prostitution, abject poverty, and exposure to violence. According to the Journal of Criminal Justice, framed human trafficking is a problem that ultimately leads to public attention, thus leading to the government’s involvement in related policies to help combat the issue. In the 1990s, the Clinton administration began framing human trafficking as a human rights issue that hurts women and children (2). The discomfort with human trafficking gained media coverage because of the redefining meaning public officials formulated. As a result, popular opinion believed that this was, in fact, a women’s rights issue.

Human trafficking has been formed into a broad statement that it incriminates all forms of the sexually exploited act, including consensual prostitution. U.S. politicians influenced the public to think that any form of trafficking should be justified as a criminal problem. In 2000, the government began reorganizing the meaning of trafficking, considering that it is linked to illegal drugs and migration. Fearing that trafficking would lead to many organized or transnational crimes, this was also a threat to national security (2). With time, the government believed that national security could also get compromised due to individuals’ actions to expand or continue their trafficking activities. It includes forcing the migration of individuals or terrorizing transnational to exploit human beings. Because of the growing acceptance that trafficking is a crime, the U.S. government began to propose legislation that could prosecute those predators and provide safe refuge for victims of prostitution. Furthermore, an everchanging definition of trafficking aims to promote a popular response. Policies have been set to benefit law enforcement in solving a problem with their definition of trafficking.

Preliminary assessments suggest that despite the passage of federal and state legislation,15 far fewer trafficking victims have been identified by the police or other government officials than estimates of the problem would predict (3). It is not surprising, given that criminal justice agencies are generally ill-prepared to identify and respond to trafficking victims. Across the U.S., police have not been adequately trained to identify and respond to trafficking victims (2).

Between 700,000 and 1,000,000 children and women have been trafficked worldwide, with 50,000 being brought into the United States each year. (4). Since the 2000s, the U.S. has been a major contributor to the importation of sex slaves. However, the statistical numbers only estimate trafficking because these activities are practiced privately or internationally. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, approved in 2000, was made to ensure that human trafficking is being combated and to protect victims while prosecuting the exploiters. Police officers are usually the first to encounter an act of trafficking because of local involvement. Agencies are divided into city, county, state, and federal increments. Local officers have the greatest influence on how crime can get reduced. In D. Wilson, W. Walsh, and S. Kleuber’s article, 163 agencies got sampled for research of views on sex trafficking. The chosen departments have serviced more than 50% of the U.S. population (4). These agencies, due to the size of the populations served as well as the size of the agency, were generally to be viewed as leaders within law enforcement in the USA and, therefore, more likely to have exposure to and an awareness of a wider range of crime issues than some smaller agencies (4). Out of these departments that submitted their surveys for research, 11 out of 19 presents submitted a finished product. With findings, seven agencies have either taught or received training in human trafficking. The training they received was in domestic violence, and less than 55% had immigration training. 92% of agencies have no specific training in sex-trafficking crimes (4).

According to research, more than half of these agencies have been involved in investigations related to sex trafficking issues, and half of the departments have made physical arrests. This data is important because departments that have led investigations on human trafficking, which was 63%, and arrested in relation (64%) have not been trained (4). Almost all the agencies surveyed indicated that no written policy addressed human trafficking. The majority indicated domestic violence, prostitution, and kidnapping policies would get utilized to respond to human trafficking. Seventy-one percent of departments indicated they did not have policies that could aid officer response to human trafficking (4).

They compare the agencies that have undergone training with human trafficking to those that did not; those with training were more perceptive of sex trafficking offenders. As a result, I feel that because local officers meet victims of human trafficking or offenders, first-hand training should be a priority for human trafficking crimes. In considering the findings, local officers are not well-prepared to combat human trafficking without proper training. Local officers are unlikely to identify a trafficker victim or offender. Instead of incriminating women who are  prostitutes’ investigations should be processed to find out why these women are choosing to do what they do. It protects those who chose and those women who are foreign and undocumented. All forms of trafficking are a global issue, and local law enforcement should be a part of the chain to prevent the trafficking of individuals. The prevention has to start with an executive leader to enforce regulations and involvement in human trafficking activities.


  1. American Civil Liberties Union. Human Trafficking: Modern Enslavement of Immigrant Women in the United States [Internet]. American Civil Liberties Union. 2022. Available from: https://www.aclu.org/other/human-trafficking-modern-enslavement-immigrant-women-united-states
  2. Farrell A, Fahy S. The problem of human trafficking in the U.S.: Public frames and policy responses. Journal of Criminal Justice [Internet]. 2009 [cited 2022 Oct 23];37(6):617–26. Available from: https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jcjust/v37yi6p617-626.html
  3. Markon J. Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence [Internet]. washingtonpost.com. 2007. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/2
  4. Wilson DG, Walsh WF, Kleuber S. Trafficking in Human Beings: Training and Services among U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies. Police Practice and Research. 2006 May;7(2):149–60.
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What is Human Trafficking?. (2019, Oct 12). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/what-is-human-trafficking-2/