What is Trafficking?
MASWAN defines trafficking as the forcible movement of people from one place to another, for the purposes of forcing them into labor, for one’s own financial gain. Because policy frameworks often conflate trafficking with consensual sex work, they unduly criminalize consensual workers, while making it harder for traffickers to be identified and stopped.
The UN’s Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000), which has been ratified by 189 countries, including the United States. It defines trafficking as the following: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”
The National Human Trafficking hotline, funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, defines trafficking as: “a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.”