WE ARE THE NEWS NOW.
EDITOR NOTE: *THIS ARTICLE WAS CREATED W/SCREENSHOTS OF EXCERPTS & GRAPHICS FROM THE REPORT TO USE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
The Human Trafficking Institute
April 10, 2019
Last year, we released our first Federal Human Trafficking Report (“Report”) to capture and analyze what federal courts in the United States are doing to combat human trafficking. The 2017 Report captured wide-ranging information about every human trafficking case that federal courts handled in 2016 and 2017 with the goal of providing objective data to inform discussions by policymakers, researchers, journalists, and nonprofit leaders. We have been encouraged by the response. The 2017 Report was used as a resource for news stories, in reports by leading nonprofit organizations, and by government agencies and international organizations. One government leader described the Report as the most reliable cross section of human trafficking data within the United States.
In the coming years, we are committed to making the Report an even more useful tool. For the 2018 Report, in response to several requests, we pulled data from a few significant years in federal human trafficking law and enforcement. We added cases that were initiated in 2000, when the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was enacted and the following year, 2001. We also added cases that were initiated in 2007 and 2008 to capture data from the first two years of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit’s existence, as well as one of the years when the TVPA was reauthorized. Our reporting on those years is limited to cases that were initiated; however, it does provide some helpful context to see how the numbers have changed since the enactment of the TVPA. In future Reports, we hope to pull data from other years to provide a more comprehensive picture of how federal efforts to hold traffickers accountable have developed.
In addition, following the publication of the 2017 Report, we created one-page overviews that summarized an individual state’s federal efforts to combat trafficking. Last year, we published 18 state summaries. This year, we will be publishing state summaries for all 56 U.S. States and Territories.
Last year, we also announced the launch of www.TraffickingMatters.com, which we hope will serve as a premier hub for human trafficking data and research. Trafficking Matters not only houses the Report and state summaries, but also trending cases, news stories, and reports from a wide array of government agencies, multilateral organizations, and nonprofit organizations.
We believe these resources represent an important step forward in our understanding of human trafficking cases, and we are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and survivors during the collection and analysis of this data.
Sincerely, Victor Boutros
Institute Cofounder & Chief Executive Officer
Primary Authors: Alyssa Currier Kyleigh Feehs
Case Example Authors: Betsy Hutson Lindsey Roberson
EXCERPTS & GRAPHICS FROM THE REPORT TO USE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Criminal defendants used the internet to solicit buyers of commercial sex in 87.7% of the sex trafficking cases active in 2018. Of these cases, public sources identified Backpage as a platform used to solicit buyers in 300 cases. The number of cases involving Backpage dropped 18.3% from 2017, following the shutdown of Backpage in April 2018. Only 5.3% of the sex trafficking cases active in 2018 involved commercial sex being marketed on a street or track known for prostitution. This is a slight decline from the 6.6% of sex trafficking cases that involved street-based commercial sex in 2017.
In 2018, labor trafficking defendants most commonly compelled victims to work as domestic servants. Of the labor trafficking cases active in 2018, 38.7% involved domestic work, where victims were forced to provide house cleaning, childcare, and other household tasks.ii The other top industries where defendants commonly compelled victims to work included food services or restaurant labor (19.4%), farming or agricultural labor (12.9%), and construction labor (12.9%). These were the same top four business models as in 2017.
Methods of Coercion
Traffickers frequently use a combination of coercive tactics to compel a victim to provide sex or labor. In 2018, evidence in over half (56.2%) of the sex trafficking cases indicated that a defendant used physical violence to force a victim to engage in commercial sex.iii In addition to violent methods of coercion, traffickers commonly rely upon more subtle forms of coercion to control their victims. Of the sex trafficking cases active in 2018, 42.6% involved a defendant threatening to use violence against a victim, 25.4% involved a defendant verbally or emotionally abusing a victim, and 23.3% involved a defendant placing a victim in physical isolation in order to coerce the victim to engage in commercial sex. Defendants in over one-third (36.2%) of the active sex trafficking cases allegedly induced a substance addiction, or exploited an existing addiction, as a method to control a victim.
The most common methods of coercion used by defendants in labor trafficking cases active in 2018 were the withholding of pay (60%) and threats of physical abuse (60%).iv In 57.1% of the cases, defendants used physical violence to coerce a victim to work or provide services. Non-physical methods of coercion targeting migrant populations appeared in public sources more frequently in labor trafficking cases than sex trafficking cases. For example, 51.4% of labor trafficking cases included evidence that a defendant threatened a victim would be deported if he or she did not comply with the defendant’s demands. In comparison, only 2.6% of sex trafficking cases mentioned a defendant’s threat of deportation as a method of coercion.