What is Human Trafficking?
According to the United Nation’s Trafficking in Persons Protocol, “Human trafficking is the action of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability.” It also includes “payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person for the purpose of exploitation, including but not limited to, the exploitation of the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery or similar practices, servitude, and removal of organs. The consent of the victim is irrelevant where the victim is a child or the use of the incriminated means is established.
Worldwide, human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), forced labor alone, as a component of human trafficking, generates an estimated $150 billion in profits per year as of 2014. In 2012, the ILO estimated that 21 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 14.2 million (68%) were exploited for labor, 4.5 million (22%) were sexually exploited, and 2.2 million (10%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.
California, together with Texas, New York and Oklahoma, has the largest concentration of reported survivors in the United States. According to the National Human Trafficking resource Center (NHTRC) in 2015 18.3% of all signals about suspected trafficking were associated with California.
San Francisco with its ports, airports, large tourism industry, and big concentration of underserved populations, is a major source, transit, and destination point for both labor and sex trafficking. According to the FBI, the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the nation’s 13 top destinations for child sex trafficking. In addition to the federal government’s efforts, in 2015 alone the local law enforcement agencies and service providers in San Francisco identified 499 survivors of labor and sex trafficking, 122 of them minors. Statistics indicate the enormous gravity and extent of the problem.
Who are the Victims?
Trafficked persons in the United States can be men or women, adults or children, foreign nationals or U.S. citizens, and non-citizen residents. Some are well-educated, while others have no formal education.
Certain populations are especially vulnerable to trafficking, including undocumented immigrants, runaway and homeless youth, and oppressed, marginalized, and impoverished groups and individuals. Other vulnerable people are victims of domestic violence. Traffickers specifically target individuals in these populations because they are vulnerable to recruitment tactics and methods of control.
According to the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), anyone under the age of 18 involved in the sex industry is legally a victim of human trafficking, regardless of consent. Victims are recruited from schools, malls, group homes, and the Internet- any place kids gather. Once recruited, they are sold on the streets and through the Internet. The trafficking and sexual exploitation of children fuels the prostitution industry. In 2009, the FBI estimated that the average age of entry into prostitution in the U.S. is 12.
Labor trafficking is more prevalent than sex trafficking and is used in the production of many everyday commodities. Learn about products protected by Fair Trade practices. (www.fairtradeusa.org)
 Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (20 May 2014). "Profits and poverty: The economics of forced labour" (PDF). International Labour Organization. p. 4. Retrieved 24 October 2016
 “21 million people are now victims of forced labour, ILO says". International Labour Organization. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
 Hidden Slaves. Forced Labor in the United States, Human Rights Center, University of California Berkeley & Free the Slaves, September 2004 at http://www.freetheslaves.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Hidden-Slaves.pdf
 National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Data Breakdown, United States Report (1/1/2015–12/31/2015)
 Human Trafficking in San Francisco Report 2016, San Francisco Mayor’s Task Force on Anti-Human Trafficking at http://sfgov.org/dosw/sites/default/files/2016%20Human%20Trafficking%20in%20San%20Francisco%20Report_0.pdf
8 Ways to Help Fight Human Trafficking
Jewish texts teach that we have an obligation to protect the strangers in our midst, treat our workers with respect, and redeem the captive. Here is how you and your community can translate these lessons into action:
- LEARN THE SIGNS. Learn human trafficking red flags and ask questions so that you can detect a potential trafficking situation.
- REPORT HUMAN TRAFFICKING. Report your suspicions to law enforcement by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 FREE or the U.S. Department of Justice Hotline at 1-888-428-7581 FREE. Or dial 911.
- BUY ETHICALLY. Be a conscientious consumer. Let retailers know that you support their efforts to maintain a slavery-free supply chain and pledge to buy Fair Trade certified products.
- TAKE ACTION. Advocate for legislation to combat trafficking through the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California.(www.jpac-cal.org)
- GET THE WORD OUT. Write letters to local publications and community leaders about the need to eradicate trafficking in your community.
- SUPPORT SERVICES FOR SURVIVORS. Donate your time, money, and goods to organizations that help local victims.
- WORK TOGETHER. Meet with other faith communities to work together to fight human trafficking: show a film; host a speaker.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF. Learn statistics on modern-day slavery and how it relates to domestic violence, bullying, immigration, climate change, and poverty. (California Office of the Attorney General –http://oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking and San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking –www.sfcaht.org)