Fact Sheet: Protecting Victims from Human Trafficking

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Human trafficking is an issue that has been prevalent across nations for numerous decades.  It has become a modern day form of slavery.  This is a problem because it violates a person’s basic human rights, along with treating that person unjustly.  Human trafficking involves many functions of transferring victims, which may include recruitment and transfer of victims.  It is usually done through force, but sometimes is done through emotional abuse.  The purpose of human trafficking is for the exploitation of a human being; types of exploitation may include prostitution or physical labor (UNODC, 2012).  In America, some forms of trafficking may be in construction, nail salons, and elder care (Siskin & Wyler, 2012).  Regardless of the type of human trafficking, efforts to stop this injustice are pertinent.

Some myths about human trafficking include:

1. Humans are only brought across national borders.  The truth is that humans are often transported both from nation to nation and from within a nation to another area of that nation.  As it relates to the United States, someone may be transported from one city to another city, sometimes another city in that same state (UNODC, 2012).

2. Women and children are the only victims of human trafficking.  The truth is that, while most victims are women and children, there are some male victims (UNODC, 2012).

3. The only type of exploitation is sexual exploitation, i.e. prostitution.  This is false.  Many victims of this injustice are involved in labor exploitation (UNODC, 2012).

4. Only men recruit victims.  In reality, about half of recruiters are women (UNODC, 2012).

5. Trafficking must use some form of physical restraint.  However, many times people are held against their will through verbal threats (Polaris Project, 2012).

6. Victims are only from the working and lower classes.  Although some victims are members of the working and lower classes, some victims are from middle and upper classes (Polaris Project, 2012).

7. If given an opportunity to escape, victims will escape from their situations.  This may be the case for some victims, but others become so emotionally abused that they are not able to leave their situations (UNODC, 2012).

8. Human trafficking does not occur in the United States.  This is a myth because close to half a million people are trafficked in this country.  Many people in the United States are unaware that human trafficking exists in this country. (Polaris Project, 2012).


Although it may seem as if human trafficking is a problem that is not being handled by the nations, there are multiples government policies regarding this problem.  Internationally, many treaties and policies exist.  The most popular and relevant policy that still exists today is the U.N. Protocol on Trafficking, which was put into effect is the United States in 2005.  The U.N. Protocol on Trafficking ensures that nations will prosecute traffickers and actively help their victims.  This Protocol calls for the criminalization of anyone that attempts to aid in trafficking or organizes human trafficking (Siskin & Wyler, 2010).  Furthermore, the United Nations has anti-trafficking programs set up in hopes of diminishing this problem and helping the victims.  These programs include the U.N. Children’s Fund, the United Nations Development Program, and the International Program to Eliminate Child Labor (Siskin & Wyler, 2010).

The United States also has policies against this injustice.  The two primary goals of the policies in the United States are to help the victims and to prosecute the traffickers.  The policies currently upheld in this country are interesting.  While there are policies in place to help victims that are not citizens of the United States, the policy requirements may not be doing enough for victim assistance (Siskin & Wyler, 2010).  The policies will help those victims that are not citizens of the United States, but only for a limited number of years.  These policies are put into place in hopes of helping these victims of human trafficking.  Not only do these policies help the victims directly by providing them relief services, but these policies help to challenge the status quo.  Many of these policies have social advocates that are constantly looking at legalities and trying to change them to better the system.  Although many policies exist today to help the victims, it is difficult to help every victim.  Also, it is difficult to catch all traffickers.  Some traffickers will never be caught because of the lack of an adequate legal system in their native countries.  Sometimes the victims are unwilling to help prosecutors in the prosecution of traffickers due to fear (UNODC, 2012).

Some victims may be fearful of coming forward to authorities about their abuse because of victim blaming.  Those believing in Belief in a Just World often times believe that the victim is to blame for the crimes committed against them, and that they are in fact not truly a victim.  The peers of these victims may feel as if it is the fault of the victims for being involved in human trafficking.  Furthermore, these same people may believe that the victims are bad people that have committed many wrongdoings in their pasts, and this is why they are victims of trafficking.  These beliefs ultimately create inequalities against the victims.  Injustices of the victims of human trafficking also stem from procedural justice.  If someone is treated unjustly during the process, then the result of that process cannot be just either.  The process in which a human being is sold and trafficked is fundamentally unjust.  Human traffickers are treating human beings as property, rather than respecting their human rights.  They are putting a price on a person’s life, which is a primary form of injustice.



Human Trafficking. (2012). Polaris Project: For a World Without Slavery. http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/resources-by-topic/human-trafficking.

Human Trafficking. (2012). UNODC. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/faqs.html#What_does_UNOD....

Siskin, A. & Wyler, L. (2010). Trafficking in Persons: U.S. Policy and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Service.