About Human Trafficking
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act is a federal law that defines human trafficking as “A form of modern day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others for commercial sex or labor purposes by the use of force, fraud, or coercion.” Human trafficking is an injustice that depends on the lie that people are reusable and expendable.
Human Trafficking in North Carolina
North Carolina consistently ranks in the top ten out of our 50 states in human trafficking activity. There are two major factors necessary to a successful trafficking ring: ease of movement and demand. North Carolina has three major interstates running through it as well as port cities, thereby providing for movement. Demand is supplied by the agriculture industry and factories requiring inexpensive labor, as well as the four military bases with high, transient populations in a centralized area. There are many anti-trafficking groups in North Carolina that are doing excellent work in an effort to fight this crime. Alamance for Freedom is privileged to join them.
National Hotline Statistics for North Carolina here.
Shared Hope International gave North Carolina a B for its Protected Innocence Challenge: a comprehensive study of state law regarding domestic minor sex trafficking. See our report card for 2016 here and the Analysis and Recommendations for North Carolina here.
Learn to Recognize the Signs
Jesus taught us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is widely recognized as wisdom that binds a community together: we are to look out for one another. Be a good neighbor and add the hotline number to your contacts, and then learn to recognize the signs of a possible trafficking situation. If something doesn’t “look right,” be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if an acquaintance alludes to restricted freedom or of an employer who is holding back her wages. Most often these victims are hidden in plain sight.
Sex trafficking happens when a person uses someone under 18 for commercial sex. OR if the person involved in the commercial sex act is over 18 is somehow trapped or made to do it. A commercial sex act is any sex act in which something of value is exchanged. Like money. Or food. Or forgiveness of a drug debt.
Labor trafficking happens when anyone is forced or lured into a job they didn’t choose or don’t have any say regarding the terms of that job and can’t or are afraid to leave. Labor trafficking differs from exploitation in that it involves using some type of force or deceit to entrap or control the “victim” for free or cheap labor.
Anyone who recruits, transports, hides, gives shelter to, is paid to look the other way, or in any way helps along the process of sex or labor trafficking is guilty of committing a crime. In North Carolina, solicitation and patronization of a prostituted person is a felony offense. Also, for the buyers, consent of the minor, under 18, cannot be used as a defense.
A legal or illegal arrangement can start out as consensual or contractual but end up as a trafficking situation when force, fraud or coercion is introduced or in the case of a commercial sex act the minor is under 18. A minor who is voluntarily pimped is still considered a victim of human trafficking. A minor is not a prostitute; a minor is prostituted.
Often scary images like chains and cages and handcuffs are used to teach what human trafficking looks like. It usually looks like something we see much more often. Below are a few very typical examples of human trafficking:
- A “date” turns into forced prostitution.
- A young man agrees to be smuggled across the border for an agreed upon fee. His smuggler then raises the fee and makes him work on his farm until the ‘debt’ is paid off.
- A 15 year old agrees to be pimped out by her boyfriend to make rent.
- A foreign-born woman with an H2B visa serves as a nanny. Her employer withholds her documents and does not pay her. She must work 18-hour days and is threatened with deportation if she tries to leave.
- A couple makes and sells online videos of sex acts committed on children. Maybe their own children.
- A homeless youth trades sex with an adult for a warm place to sleep at night.
- A business mans travels to a city for work, orders up an “escort” for the evening who happens to be 17.