For years I’ve heard the term human trafficking thrown around but I didn’t really understand why we use that phrase.  I just thought it was cool that it used the letter “k” in it because I am the type of person to appreciate something meaningless like that.  Regardless, in general human trafficking refers to modern slavery. In case you aren’t aware of what modern slavery is, I can tell you it is just what it sounds like it means- slavery that is happening now, today. And hopefully not tomorrow.

It might be shocking to know that despite having outlawed slavery a long time ago, there are still slaves in our country.  Modern slavery goes far beyond the borders of the United States; it is a global issue. Modern slaves can be domestic servants, women and girls forced into prostitution, and bonded servants to name some of the shapes it takes on. We will be writing more posts to help you understand modern slavery, but let me continue explaining the official term.

The term human trafficking uses the word “trafficked” just like drugs or arms are “trafficked.” The original phrase, “the traffic in persons,” happened to be wordy and not said with ease. There is also the acronym T.I.P. but that also doesn’t roll off the tongue well. Of course, I don’t think human trafficking does either, but, well, you know. Language evolves, even if not beautifully.

The problem with the phrase human trafficking is that most associate it with movement. But really, it has nothing to do with movement. Not saying trafficking victims aren’t moved about, but its not part of defining them as a victim.  To be a victim of trafficking one does not have to be smuggled, go over borders, be an immigrant, or have had physical force used to imprison them. Instead, the term more so refers to the selling, buying, and trading of a person. This can be either for money, for servitude, or to coerce one to perform acts for another for profit (such as sexual slavery).

Even so, one does not need to be bought to be trafficked (Bradley, 2010). The definition is very complicate and hard to interpret here in the States. For now, just know that the human trafficking refers to something you would never want to happen to you or anyone you know.  Which is why we should care.

Myles, Bradley. (2010, Oct.). Human Trafficking Workshop.