About the Issue

Understanding Slavery & Trafficking

According to the United Nations, human trafficking is the process by which a person is recruited to be controlled and held captive for the purpose of exploitation.

Traffickers threaten to or use force, coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception to bring their victims under their control, in addition to abusing their power or the vulnerable social or economic status of their victims. The resulting exploitation is essentially a modern-day form of slavery as human trafficking victims are subjected to sexual exploitation or forced labor. This labor usually consists of making clothing, growing food for export, assembling toys for children, cleaning homes and providing childcare to the family of their slaveholders. Women and girls are also forced or tricked into prostitution.

Many people ask why more victims don’t attempt to escape if they are being held against their will. Imagine a victim’s situation – their oppressor has threatened to come after them or their family if they attempted to escape. Victims are told that they will be deported or put in jail if they leave because their oppressor has stolen their documents. Deportation for a victim means retribution by the trafficker, as most traffickers have a web of conspirators in the victims’ home country willing and able to get even. Many victims fear retribution through black magic, physical and sexual abuse, among many other threats and promises made by their captors.

If a victim does successfully escape and stay in the United States, their limited language skills, unfamiliarity with the area, and poor physical and mental health due to their enslavement, can leave them helpless on the streets – vulnerable to falling prey to their traffickers once again. With no money, no documents to prove their citizenship, and limited skills, they are unable to earn a living and get themselves out of their situation. A victim’s situation seems hopeless – until they find out that there are organizations like CAST that were created to help them escape this downward spiral of despair.