The standard definition of human trafficking is defined as “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” There are three main categories of human trafficking that occur in our world, and in order to create change, we must be aware of the differences between each type of trafficking.
The two most well-known types of human trafficking are labor trafficking and sex trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as “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.” In 2016, it was estimated that 24.9 million people were victims of forced labor of all types. Debt bondage is a major subcategory within labor trafficking. It is used to maintain forced labor as workers are told if they continue to work, they can pay off their loans or a family member’s loan. The employer can adjust interest rates or add penalties for ‘poor work’ to increase the debt that these workers have to ‘pay off.’ Forced labor is estimated to generate $51.2 billion in illegal profits per year.
Sex trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex 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” by the TPVA. It is also important to note that people under the age of 18 who engage in a commercial sex act, regardless of if it was induced by force, fraud, or coercion, are also considered victims of human trafficking. In 2017, it was estimated that 3.8 million adults are forced into sex trafficking as well as 1 million children. Sex trafficking often takes place in venues or businesses such as “fake massage businesses, escort services, residential brothels, in public on city streets and in truck stops, strip clubs, hostess clubs, hotels, and motels” but that is not the extent of the list. Out of all the sex trafficking victims, women and girls are disproportionately affected. They account for 99% of people forced into the commercial sex industry.
Organ trafficking is not as talked about in comparison to labor and sex trafficking but it is also extremely prevalent today. It is defined as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring, or receipt of living or deceased persons or their organs by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving to, or the receiving by, a third party of payments or benefits to achieve the transfer of control over the potential donor, for the purpose of exploitation by the removal of organs for transplantation.” There have been recent cases within China of the government being accused of using organ trafficking for profits. China claims they perform 10,000 to 20,000 organ transplants a year when in actuality, the figure is more along the lines of 60,000 to 100,000 per year. Their organ transplant system allows recipients to book their transplant surgeries in advance, picking the day, time, and location. In other countries, people are not able to pre-schedule their surgeries as they do not know when a deceased’s organs will match which patient on the transplant list. In Beijing, Xinjiang is “ground zero” when it comes to harvesting the organs of political prisoners. China has a soaring rate of executions and exploiting criminal organs. China would convince prisoners to sign statements that said they would donate their organs to the state, but they would leave out that the prisoners might be alive while donating them. China does this since they know that live organs have a lower rejection rate when being transferred from one person to another. While organ trafficking is not often discussed, it is still happening in many countries around the world.
There are a variety of subcategories of human trafficking that occur around the world but these three are the umbrellas. By educating ourselves and others on the types of human trafficking, we are more equipped to fight it.