January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month
7 Myths of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is defined as the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation. There are several misconceptions regarding human trafficking, here are 7 myth surrounding human trafficking.
1. Only women and girls can be victims of sex trafficking
Human trafficking effects individuals of all gender identities and presentations. According to a 2016 report by Polaris Project, LGBTQIA2S+ youth face higher rates of discrimination, violence, and economic instability than their cis-gender and heterosexual peers, putting them at an increased risk of being targeted by traffickers.
2. Only undocumented foreign nationals get trafficked in the United States
While lack of legal immigration status is a vulnerability commonly exploited by traffickers, U.S. citizens can experience human trafficking as well. Human trafficking occurs any time an individual is forced, defrauded, or coerced into participating in a commercial sex act or performing labor.
3. People being trafficked are physically locked up and held against their will
Leaving a trafficking situation can be extremely difficult. Survivors often face barriers to leaving such as lack of shelter, lack of access to food and other necessities, having children with the trafficker, fear of retaliation, and other effects of coercion and manipulation.
4. Traffickers target victims they don’t know and often kidnap their victims
Traffickers often know their victims and use coercion and manipulation to exert power and control. A trafficker may be the victim’s intimate partner, parent, family member, caregiver, boss, or other acquaintance.
5. Human trafficking only happens in illegal or underground industries
Human trafficking occurs in many legitimate industries, including food service, hospitality, agriculture, and manufacturing.
6. Labor trafficking is only a problem in developing countries
Labor trafficking occurs throughout the world, including in the U.S. According to Polaris Project, human trafficking occurs in health care, forestry, manufacturing, landscaping, construction, food service, traveling sales crews, domestic work, and a variety of other industries. Labor trafficking victims are often trapped in a cycle of debt through fraudulent job recruitment schemes or unreasonable pay deductions. Some are confined to workplaces by force or psychological coercion.
7. All commercial sex is human trafficking
Sex trafficking occurs when the person providing commercial sex is under the age of 18 or is doing so as a result of force, fraud, or coercion. An individual may also participate in commercial sex as a way to meet their basic needs, often called “survival sex”. A person participating in survival sex is vulnerable to sex trafficking victimization and may need support to reduce their risk of experiencing harm.
If you or someone you know is experiencing trafficking/exploitation, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) or contact your local crisis center: https://www.nebraskacoalition.org/get_help/