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Trafficking in Persons


In 2000, the United States enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), and the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, also known as the Palermo Protocol. Since then, the world has made great strides in combating this ultimate exploitation - both in terms of what we know about this crime and how we respond.

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, the TVPA defines severe forms of trafficking as "(a) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or (b) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery."

Under the TVPA, a person may be a trafficking victim regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude. At the heart of this phenomenon are the myriad forms of enslavement - not the activities involved in international transportation. Major forms of human trafficking include:

  • Forced Labor
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Bonded Labor
  • Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers
  • Involuntary Domestic Servitude
  • Forced Child Labor
  • Child Soldiers
  • Child Sex Trafficking

In addition to public awareness campaigns, addressing root causes, and conducting law enforcement-related or border security activities, the prevention of human trafficking activities must also address key vulnerabilities in legal systems: policies and implementation loopholes that allow trafficking to occur, tolerance within government procurement and contracting, unscrupulous labor recruiting companies, restrictive visa practices used as coercive tools, and lax enforcement of labor laws.

Combating human trafficking requires the expertise, resources and efforts of many individuals and entities. It is a complex, multifaceted issue requiring a comprehensive response of government and nongovernment entities in such areas as human rights, labor and employment, health and services, and law enforcement.

See the Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report 2013 for further information.

This topical resource on Trafficking in Persons contains the following information:

Facts and Figures – Includes the latest information and statistics.
Legislation – A sample of links to online Federal and State legislation and testimony.
Publications – A sample of available resources.
Programs – Examples of State and local programs and initiatives available online.
Training and Technical Assistance – A sample of training and technical assistance opportunities available through nationally recognized agencies and associations.
Grants and Funding – Links to Federal funding opportunities.
Related Resources – Examples of nationally recognized agencies and organizations that provide services or information.