Misconceptions About Human Trafficking

It is important to clear up a few common misconceptions about human trafficking.

  • Human trafficking is not the same thing as human smuggling. Human trafficking is slavery, and is therefore obviously involuntary, as detailed above. Human smuggling, on the other hand, is voluntary illegal crossing of borders. Whereas the relationship between a smuggler and his or her human cargo ends after the border has been successfully crossed, the relationship between a trafficker and his or her human commodity continues, and is marked by exploitation for labor or services (sexual or otherwise) through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. For more on smuggling vs. trafficking, click here.
  • Human trafficking does not necessarily imply any kind of physical transportation of persons. Human trafficking is simply a synonym for slavery, and may or may not involve physical transport. Although trafficked people are often transported to another location to be enslaved, the hallmark of human trafficking is not physical movement but slavelike practices. This means that a person could even be trafficked within their own home, if they were held captive there and involuntarily prostituted, for instance.
  • Human trafficking is not just a problem in the developing world. The US State Department estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are brought into the US annually for slavery, not to mention Americans trafficked within America. Rich Western nations like the US and the UK are hotspot destinations for sex trafficking in particular.