Posts Tagged ‘forced labor’

Thursday, the Stop Human Trafficking Action Group hosted a movie event. We showed the highly acclaimed short film “The Return” and afterward had a Q&A with the writer/director Matthew Szewczyk.

The film is based on a true human trafficking/labor trafficking case in Orange County, California. The film is a brutal reminder that human trafficking does happen in every country, in every city around the world.

We appreciate everyone who came out to our event as well as those who helped and supported us to get this event put together. A special thank you, too, to Matthew for giving of his time and talent so we could have this event.


Fair trade coffee, tea and sugar for our guests.

Fair trade coffee, tea and sugar for our guests.



Our booth.

Our booth.


Watching the film

Watching the film

A good turnout

A good turnout

Q&A with Matthew

Q&A with Matthew



The 2016 Human Trafficking Victim Report documents the origins of human trafficking survivors and perpetrators in Orange County.

Last year, OCHTTF aided 225 human trafficking victims, raising the total number of victims OCHTTF has assisted since 2004 to more than 580 sex and labor trafficking victims.

By tracking victim origin data, the task force has learned that 78% of sex trafficking victims originated outside of Orange County making it a destination city for trafficking.

Here are some statistics from the report:

Of the 225 human trafficking victims assisted in 2015

  • 203 were female, 19 male, 3 transgender
  • 177 were adult and 48 were minors
  • 63 were foreign born and 162 were US citizens
  • 49 were rescued from labor trafficking and 168 were rescued from sex trafficking
  • total number of new victims was 137 or 61% of the overall total

Services provided to these clients included:

  • skill-building workshops
  • social activities
  • transportation
  • personal items such as clothes and toiletries
  • medical, dental, and mental health services
  • housing assistance
  • child-care



The annual TIP Report, categorized into tiers based on how well governments meet the minimum requirements for the elimination of human trafficking, was set by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.


If there is a single theme to this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, it is the conviction that there is nothing inevitable about trafficking in human beings. That conviction is where the process of change really begins—with the realization that just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future or that we can afford to avert our eyes. Instead, we should be asking ourselves—what if that victim of trafficking was my daughter, son, sister, or brother?

 This year’s TIP Report asks such questions because ending modern slavery isn’t just a fight we should attempt—it is a fight we can and must win.

                                                                        -John F. Kerry, Secretary of State


This year’s (2016) Trafficking in Persons Report focuses on the positive developments and continued challenges of preventing trafficking, and it considers how governments and the broader anti-trafficking community can effectively ensure that those who are vulnerable to human trafficking have the tools and opportunities to avert the risks of exploitation. (2016 TIP Report)


The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

➤ 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

➤ 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.

A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within these definitions.


Here is a small sampling of some of the topics discussed in the TIP Report.


  • Vulnerability and Human Trafficking


Although human trafficking occurs everywhere, the common factor that can be found is the victim’s vulnerability to exploitation. Traffickers exploit these vulnerabilities. They prey on those who lack security and opportunity, coerce, and deceive to gain control.


To prevent this, governments, NGOs, and local communities must identify the vulnerable within their borders and develop effective strategies to increase awareness and prevent human trafficking.


Examples of vulnerabilities:


  • Refugees and migrants, including asylum-seekers
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals
  • Religious minorities
  • People with disabilities (physical & intellectual)
  • Those who are stateless
  • The poor
  • The uneducated / poorly educated
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Homelessness
  • Children


  • Research, Data Collection, and Program Evaluation


Given the complex nature of human trafficking, data is difficult to collect, causing gaps in knowledge of how to prevent human trafficking.


Reliable baseline information providing insight to causes, trends, and characteristics of human trafficking allow governments and civil societies to create an understanding and protect their more vulnerable members of society, including a more comprehensive understanding of root causes that are specific to states, communities, and cultural contexts. With this information programs can be developed to meet the specific needs of the people.


  • Raising Awareness


Awareness regarding the signs and dangers of human trafficking is an important factor in the fight against human trafficking.


Public awareness campaigns help to educate the community to be knowledgeable to the signs of human trafficking so they can inform law enforcement as well as targeting victims who may not even know they are a victim.


Campaign designers need to improve the way human trafficking victims are portrayed in their awareness ads. By showing a victim bound and beaten skews the public’s idea of what a victim looks like. Many are controlled solely by emotional and verbal threats and may be overlooked by the public as a potential victim.


  • Policies & Programs to Reduce Risk & Empower Vulnerable Individuals


Public awareness campaigns are one way to prevent human trafficking, but laws and policies must also be put in place to protect people from becoming vulnerable to traffickers such as:

  • Registering births
  • Administering citizenship and nationality
  • Identity documents

A lack of such documents renders a person vulnerable.


Documentation also allows residents and their families to utilize health, education, and employment services, all of which make a person less vulnerable.


  • Multilateral Collaboration


Human trafficking occurs in every country, on every continent. “Multilateral engagement is a key component of many governments’ effective anti-trafficking efforts.” (2016 TIP Report)


Many organizations are incorporating anti-trafficking policies into their own operating policies such as:


  • National security
  • Human rights
  • Violence against women and children
  • Migration management
  • Refugee protection
  • Business responsibility
  • Supply chain accountability
  • Economic development


By developing common goals, these organizations can help foster data collection and standardize research while providing a venue to identify new and emerging trends in human trafficking.


  • Enhancing Partnerships


To combat human trafficking, collaboration must take place. Survivors, NGOs, donors, academics, businesses, and governments need to work together, sharing strengths and supporting weaknesses. Creating a partnership is the only way to combat human trafficking on a global scale.


  • A Joint Effort


Preventing human trafficking is an enormous challenge, requiring the sustained efforts of many. Collaboration between government and nongovernmental stakeholders is critical to strengthening efforts to prevent modern slavery.


At its core, the global struggle to combat human trafficking is about political and public will. If ignored, traffickers will continue to reap enormous profits while communities suffer the many toxic effects.


But if trafficking is confronted head on, vulnerable populations will be empowered to control more fully their lives and protect themselves from the harms of human trafficking. (2016 TIP Report)



If you need help or suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking in the U.S. call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or text Polaris at BeFree (233733).


To download the entire report visit



As the holidays near, something stirs inside us that causes us to want to make the world better. We donate canned food to the school’s food drive, we hang cheerful decorations in front of our house to bring joy to others, or we write that extra large check to the charity we feel the most connection to.


The “something” that drives me to get involved, and maybe you as well, is the horror of human trafficking.


When I first became involved in human trafficking, I didn’t know how I could help. Then a dear friend of mine, a published author and fellow blogger, told me I have a talent for writing. I had never really written anything before and frankly didn’t believe her.


Nevertheless, through some twist of fate, I became a social media coordinator for our human trafficking awareness group, where I spend every day writing about human trafficking.


I discovered a hidden talent that I didn’t even know was there.


Until human trafficking and modern-day slavery are eradicated completely, organizations will continue to need volunteers and survivors will continue to need assistance.


That is where you come in.


Below is a list of 44 things you can do to become involved in the fight against human trafficking. Some are simple, easy suggestions that you can complete from the comfort of your home. Others are suggestions if you want to make more of a longer commitment.


Read through the list and find a way you can make a difference in 2016. Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself as well.


Online Activism


  • Sign a petition or start one of your own. The site has several active petitions regarding human trafficking. Check out the website for more information.
  • Follow the Stop Human Trafficking Action Group on Facebook and Twitter. Share posts and retweet on your own pages.
  • Say “No” to pornography. Refuse to download, view or share pornographic or risqué videos, pictures, and literature.
  • Visit and learn about how your purchasing habits affect labor and child trafficking around the world. At the end of the survey, you can email companies and request they no longer use child labor or slave labor in their products lines.
  • Start a blog about human trafficking. Make it personal or factual. The goal is to get people talking.
  • Email a link to this blog post to everyone in your address book.


Take Action


  • Put the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (1-888-3737-888) in your cell phone and write it down next to your landline. If you suspect someone may be a victim, call the number and speak to a representative, who will help you.
  • Write a letter to your local paper or community publication about human trafficking in your area.
  • Pray. Prayer is the strongest weapon in our arsenal. Pray for organizations, activists, victims, and survivors.
  • Provide transportation for survivors to attend doctor’s appointments, classes, etc. Inquire at your local human trafficking task force for more information.
  • Purchase fair trade items as often as possible.
  • Make most of your home and clothing purchases from second-hand stores. This is better for the environment and reduces the demand for new products, therefore, reducing the demand for slave labor.
  • Be aware of possible victims when traveling through airports, truck stops, and bus stations. Be vigilant and keep that national hotline number with you. 1-888-3737-888


Educate Yourself


  • Learn the signs of a trafficked person and keep vigilant for potential victims.
  • Attend a human trafficking awareness event in your local area. Search “human trafficking events” to locate one in your area.
  • Talk to law enforcement or your local government official about gaps in services for human trafficking survivors or how you can help their efforts to combat human trafficking.
  • Educate yourself about this issue by reading:
    • Renting Lacey by Linda Smith
    • Not For Sale by David Batstone
    • Priceless by Tom Davis
    • Terrify No More by Gary Haugen and Gregg Hunter
    • Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight by Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon
    • Trafficked: My Story of  Surviving, Escaping, and Transcending Abduction into Prostitution by Sophie Hayes
    • Start Something to End Trafficking by David Trotter




  • Know who your Facebook friends are. Traffickers often use social media to lure victims into a life of slavery.
  • Do not accept a job offer without first checking the authenticity of the company. Research the company as well as the recruiter. Let others know about the job offer and only meet for an interview at the place of business (rather than at a mall or a park).
  • Become a foster parent. As children age-out of the foster care system, they become vulnerable to traffickers. Prevent this by giving a child a “forever home.”


Become an Activist


  • Distribute human trafficking awareness materials available from the Department of Health and Human Service or Department of Homeland Security.
  • Host a screening of a human trafficking documentary. CNN Freedom Project has several documentaries to choose from.
  • Join the group Men Standing Against Trafficking. Stand in silence on the 18th of each month in trafficking hot spots around Los Angeles to bring awareness about human trafficking. It’s a great way for men to get involved in the fight against trafficking.
  • Declare yourself an activist and be active in the fight against human trafficking.


For Parents


  • Encourage your local schools to include human trafficking awareness into their curriculum, such as A21 and iEmpathize.
  • Ask that local mall security be trained to identify trafficking victims as well as traffickers.
  • Share Net Smartz videos from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with your teens, tweens, and younger children.
  • Put a “Stop Human Trafficking” bumper sticker on your car.


For Students


  • Start a club on campus to raise awareness about human trafficking.
  • Do a research paper about human trafficking and present it to your class.
  • Show your support by wearing a “Stop Human Trafficking” t-shirt, baseball cap, or button. If you can’t find one you like online, make your own.
  • Be aware of your fellow classmates. Studies show that there is at least one homeless child in every high school class. Homeless youth are at a greater risk of falling victim to a trafficker.
  • Invite a speaker to talk at your next assembly. A list of available speakers can be found at
  • Have a bake sale and donate the proceeds to Children of the Night.
  • Host a t-shirt decorating contest. Contestants can decorate their shirt to resemble how they can fight human trafficking while bringing awareness to the community.
  • Make a video about the dangers of human trafficking and put it on YouTube.
  • Hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of all the trafficking victims still in bondage. January 11 is National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness.


Support a Survivor


  • Purchase items made by human trafficking survivors. Give a gift to a loved one while helping someone better their life.
  • Teach a class in banking, cooking, sewing, or ESL to survivors of human trafficking. Contact the Salvation Army for more information.


Do Something!


Whether you choose to do one thing or several, the worst thing you can do is NOTHING.


We are surrounded by human trafficking.


“You don’t have to live in the slums of Thailand to be a stone’s throw away from a trafficker or trafficking-enabler or trafficking client. These individuals work with you, live on your street and sit next to you in church. You know them. Maybe you are one of them. A sex trafficking client. A user of pornography,” writes blogger Heidi Carlson.


Educate yourself and everyone you meet. We need to bring this issue out into the light. Traffickers can hide no more.


* * *


Learning about human trafficking awakened in me a desire to fight for victims exploited by greed, to be a voice for the voiceless, and to bring awareness about slavery.


Maybe you’ve always had a desire to be a foster/adoptive parent but were afraid. Use this opportunity to learn more about it. It’s not as scary as you may think.


Or maybe you like starting new things but burn out quickly and lose momentum. Partner with a friend or an established organization to help keep you on track.


The goal is to do something. If everyone did one thing human trafficking would only be something we read about in our history books. Choose your one thing.


The business of human trafficking is kept hidden in the shadows, which makes obtaining facts regarding human trafficking nearly impossible. So law enforcement, government agencies, and agencies working to eradicate human trafficking, are forced to make generalizations and assumptions based on the facts they do receive.

One such “fact” is this:

“Every 30 seconds, someone becomes the victim of human trafficking.”

Taking statistics from a number of sources such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children while also factoring in the denseness of the population globally, the A21 organization has created this estimated calculation.

A staggering 27 million people are in human bondage worldwide. This wouldn’t be a booming business if traffickers were not constantly building their inventory nor replenishing their inventory with fresh bodies every time a victim was either rescued, or more likely, passed away due to their abuse.

(photo courtesy of A21)

To bring an end to human trafficking, we first must make aware the dangers.

Education and awareness are the keys.

People who continue to turn a blind eye to the existence of human trafficking are more susceptible to becoming a victim themselves.

Share what you know with EVERYONE. If your church or place of worship doesn’t have a human trafficking awareness group, start one. Talk to your local government leaders or law enforcement about what they are doing to end human trafficking in your area.

Together, we CAN make a difference.

Test your knowledge about human trafficking by taking this short quiz. The questions all come from articles published on this website.
How much do you know?
  1. Human Trafficking is…

a. a term used to describe smuggling.
b. a form of modern-day slavery.
c. transporting people across state lines.

  1. Victims of human trafficking include…

a. men only.
b. women only.
c. children only.
d. all of the above.

  1. Traffickers’ tactics to lure victims include…

a. force.
b. fraud.
c. coercion.
d. all of the above
e. none of the above

  1. True or False: More people are enslaved today than at the height of the transatlantic slave trade.
  1. States with the greatest concentration of trafficked persons are…

a. Texas, Nevada, and Florida
b. Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York
c. New York, California, and Florida

  1. True or False: Victims rarely know their trafficker prior to becoming a victim.
  1. True or False: A minor employed in the commercial sex trade is a victim of human trafficking even if he or she is employed of his or her own free will and free to leave if desired.
  1. True or False: All trafficking victims have visible bruises or scars, look malnourished, and are looking for the first available opportunity to escape their trafficker.
  1. The U.S. is considered a…

a. source country only. Victims are U.S. citizens taken to other countries for exploitation.
b. transit country only. Victims from other countries are moved through the U.S. on their way to other countries.
c. destination country only. Victims from other countries are brought to the U.S. then exploited within U.S. borders.
d. a transit and destination country but not a source country.
e. a source, transit, and destination country.

  1. True or False: The National Human Trafficking Hotline number is 1-888-3737-888 and tips can remain anonymous.

So, how well did you do? Impressed by how much you know or do you need a refresher course in human trafficking basics?

Test your friends and family to see how much they know about human trafficking and share your knowledge with others.


  1. b

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others,” According to Polaris. Although slavery is thought to be a thing of the past, slavery is much alive and thrives around the world.

  1. d

“Every year thousands of men, women, and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad,” states The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some people think human trafficking is sex trafficking only therefore trafficking only involves women. Human trafficking involves several types of trafficking, and a percentage of men are exploited in the sex industry as well.

  1. d

“Human trafficking…involves controlling a person through force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim for forced labor, sexual exploitation, or both,” According to the State of California Department of Justice website. Some traffickers may only use one or two methods to control their victim, but force is always apparent.

  1. true

Between 21 and 36 million people are enslaved worldwide, according to the Free the Slaves website. The transatlantic slave trade totaled 11 million slaves.

  1. c

“States with the greatest concentration of trafficked persons are New York, California, and Florida; Washington DC also has a large trafficked population,” states a human trafficking website for medical professionals sponsored by Mount Sinai Emergency Medical Department. Because of the hidden nature of this particular crime statistics are hard to come by and rarely accurate. However, using data collected by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline (1-888-373-7888), the Polaris Project found that that between 2007 and 2012 the most potential reports of human trafficking came from California, Texas, Florida, and New York.

  1. false

Traffickers often include family members, intimate partners, and acquaintances, as well as strangers, according to the Trafficking Resource Center website.

  1. true

“Domestic minor sex trafficking occurs when U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident minors (under the age of 18) are commercially sexually exploited,” says Shared Hope International. “Children can be commercially sexually exploited through prostitution, pornography, and/or erotic entertainment.”

  1. false

At a list of signs to look for to gauge whether someone is a victim is available. The object is to recognize more than one indicator, but always trust your gut.
If you suspect someone may be the victim of human trafficking, call the hotline number and speak to a professional. He or she can guide you through a process to help determine whether the person you suspect is a victim.

  1. e

The U.S. is considered to be a source, destination, and transit country for both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals within our borders, according to the 2015 TIP Report. (p.352 of the 2015 TIP Report)

  1. true

If you suspect someone may be a victim of human trafficking or you witness behavior of a neighbor or loved one that seems “a little off,” call the hotline number to speak to a professional.

When writing articles about human trafficking, many writers use words that are common within the trafficking trade such as “pimp” and “human trafficking.” But how is someone not in the dredges of the hidden underworld of human trafficking supposed to understand?

Below is a compilation of common words used by traffickers, victims, and writers covering human trafficking, labor trafficking, and sex trafficking.

 Human Trafficking


abolitionist: anyone who speaks out for freedom and fights for social justice

aging out: when a child in foster care reaches the age of 18 or finishes high school. The Child Welfare League of America reports that as many as 36% of foster youth who have aged out of the system become homeless, 56% become unemployed, and 27% of male former foster youth become jailed.

coercion: using force or intimidation to obtain compliance

debt bondage– (also known as debt slavery or bonded labor): This a person’s pledge of his/her labor or services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation. The services required to repay the debt and the services’ duration may be undefined. Debt bondage can be passed from generation to generation.

exploitation: the act of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from his/her work

facilitator: any business or person allowing a trafficker/pimp to carry out exploitation. These facilitators (e.g., taxi drivers, hotel owners, newspapers where girls are advertised) work in direct and indirect partnership with pimps and enable the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

fraud: wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain

human trafficking:  the buying and selling of humans, using force, fraud or coercion, for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation.

modern-day slavery: refers to the institution of slavery that continues to exist today

TIP report / Trafficking In Persons Report: Organized by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the report describes and ranks the perceived efforts of countries to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.

Labor Trafficking


H-2B visa: This visa program allows U.S. employers to bring in foreign nationals to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. H-2B workers work in construction, harvest crab meat, operate fair and carnival rides, and perform other seasonal, non-agricultural jobs. Because of lack of legal protection, workers often fall prey to unlawful recruitment and abuse.

labor trafficking:  the use of violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries such as domestic service, farm and factory work, carnivals, door-to-door sales, and health and beauty services. In 2013, the national trafficking hotline received reports of 929 labor trafficking cases inside the U.S.


Sex Trafficking


bottom b**ch: One girl, among several controlled by a single pimp, appointed by him to supervise the others, report rule violations, and sometimes even help inflict punishment on them. She usually has been with her pimp longer than the other girls have.

branding: a tattoo or carving on a victim that indicates ownership by a trafficker/pimp/gang

brothel / bordello / cathouse / whorehouse:  any premises where prostitution commonly takes place qualifies as a brothel. However, for legal or cultural reasons, establishments sometimes describe themselves as massage parlors, bars, strip clubs, or by some other description.

circuit / track / blade: A set area known for prostitution activity. This can be a local term for the area around a group of strip clubs and pornography stores, or a particular stretch of street. Or it can be a series of cities among which prostituted people are moved (example: the West Coast circuit of San Diego, Las Vegas, Vancouver (British Columbia), and the cities between). The term can also refer to a chain of states, such as the “Minnesota pipeline” by which victims are moved through a series of locations from Minnesota to markets in New York.

commercial sex act: any sex act that includes as exchange of money, food, drugs, shelter, or higher status in a gang, includes prostitution, exotic dancing, stripping, and pornography

CSEC (commercial sexual exploitation of children): a commercial transaction that involves the sexual exploitation of a child, such as prostitution, pornography, and child sex tourism. If the victim is under 18 in the US, there is no need to show force for the act to be considered trafficking.

escort service: An organization, operating chiefly via cell phone and increasingly the Internet,  that sends a victim to a buyer’s location (an “outcall”) or arranges for the buyer to come to a house or apartment (an “in-call”); this may be the workplace of a single woman or actually a small brothel. Some escort services are networked with others and can assemble large numbers of women for parties and conventions. Some serve those with fetishes, such as sex with children or sadomasochism.

grooming / seasoning– the way traffickers “break down” or prepare their victims to have sex with strangers. It involves physical torture, isolation, confiscating the victim’s ID,   psychological manipulation, intimidation, gang rape, sodomy, beating, deprivation of food or sleep, isolation from family, friends, and other sources of support, and threatening of the holding hostage of a victim’s children. Grooming / seasoning is designed to totally break down a victim’s resistance and ensure that he/she will do anything he/she is told.

john / buyer / trick / date: a person buying another for sexual gratification, control, and/or domination. The john fuels the need for sex trafficking. If there were no buyers, there would be no need for sexual exploitation.

kiddie stroll: an area know for the prostitution of minors and young children

lot lizards: derogatory slang for girls  forced to prostitute themselves at truck stops and welcome stations

pimp: a person, usually a man, who solicits customers for a prostitute in return receives all or most of the earnings. Male pimps usually require their prostitutes to refer to them as “Daddy” out of respect while the females are referred to as “Madam.”

safe harbor laws: Safe harbor laws were developed by states to address inconsistencies regarding how children exploited for commercial sex are treated. Under federal law, a child under eighteen that is induced into providing commercial sex is a victim of trafficking and must be treated as such.

sex tourism: travel to another country for the sole purpose of engaging in sex, particularly with prostitutes. Child sex tourism involves traveling to another country with the sole purpose of engaging in sex with a minor.

sex trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age

stable / household: a group of victims under the control of a single pimp living in the same household

wifeys/wife-in-law/sister wife: what women and girls under the control of the same pimp call each other

Now that you know these definitions, you can better understand what is behind the terms and broaden your understanding of the hidden meaning in the language of human trafficking.

For even more definitions, check out the links below.
definitions courtesy of Wikipedia,, Polaris Project, B.E.S.T., and

Click here to sign a petition to fight child sex trafficking in the U.S.