Human Trafficking – October 2020

  • November 2, 2020

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking includes labor and sex trafficking. While many would like to believe this crime does not occur in our communities, it does. Human trafficking is occurring in Washington State and impacts children, youth, adults and families.

Human Trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel a person into any (legal or illegal) form of work or service against their will.

Human Trafficking is a process, not an event. 

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In 2020 $3.35 million was allocated to support seven (7) three-year grants (four labor and three sex trafficking) to support and assist victims and survivors of human trafficking, individuals at-risk and outreach activities.

Labor Trafficking Grantees

  • API Chaya, Seattle
  • Northwest Justice Project, Yakima
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), Seattle
  • Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN), Seattle

Sex Trafficking Grantees

  • Janus Youth Programs, Vancouver
  • REST, Seattle
  • Support, Advocacy, Resource Center (SARC), Benton and Franklin counties
  • Labor trafficking: A person is guilty of trafficking in the first degree when such person recruits, harbors, transports, transfers, provides, obtains, buys, purchases or receives by any means another person knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact, (A) that force, fraud, or coercion as defined in RCW 9A.36.070 will be used to cause the person to engage in: forced labor; involuntary servitude. [1]
  • Sex trafficking: is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. [2]
  • Commercial sexual abuse of a minor — Consent of minor does not constitute defense.
A person is guilty of commercial sexual abuse of a minor if: (a) He or she provides anything of value to a minor or a third person as compensation for a minor having engaged in sexual conduct with him or her; (b) He or she provides or agrees to provide anything of value to a minor or a third person pursuant to an understanding that in return therefore such minor will engage in sexual conduct with him or her; or (c) He or she solicits, offers, or requests to engage in sexual conduct with a minor in return for a fee[3] [1] RCW 9A.40.100 [2] Ibid [3] RCW 9A.20
  • Labor trafficking: A person is guilty of trafficking in the first degree when such person recruits, harbors, transports, transfers, provides, obtains, buys, purchases or receives by any means another person knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact, (A) that force, fraud, or coercion as defined in RCW 9A.36.070 will be used to cause the person to engage in: forced labor; involuntary servitude. [1]
  • Sex trafficking: is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. [2]
  • Commercial sexual abuse of a minor — Consent of minor does not constitute defense.

A person is guilty of commercial sexual abuse of a minor if:
(a) He or she provides anything of value to a minor or a third person as compensation for a minor having engaged in sexual conduct with him or her;
(b) He or she provides or agrees to provide anything of value to a minor or a third person pursuant to an understanding that in return therefore such minor will engage in sexual conduct with him or her; or (c) He or she solicits, offers, or requests to engage in sexual conduct with a minor in return for a fee[3]

[1] RCW 9A.40.100
[2] Ibid
[3] RCW 9A.20

While we don’t “hear” about labor trafficking and there aren’t many trainings, resources or discussions about this issue- it is occurring, more than likely, at a similar level as sex trafficking.

Individuals who have experienced labor trafficking in our state are legal residents, foreign nationals youth and adults. Examples include:

  • Individuals brought to the U.S. (legally and illegally) by trusted friends or family members for employment and a promise of safety, education and a home to live in,
  • Individuals who are here legally to work and then
  • Traffickers took their identification, documents and/or falsified documents, took any cash they had, took their phone and used threats, shame, isolation, withholding of basic needs to force individuals to work and to “pay” back money owed to the trafficker for food, rent and other “expenses”.

Human Trafficking occurs in a variety of industries including but not limited to, hotels and motels, goat and sheep herding, construction, domestic work (nannies, house cleaners), agriculture, restaurants, forestry and slaughterhouses. Labor and sex trafficking are occurring in rural areas, large cities and small towns.

Traffickers use a “business model” to make money. Traffickers can be male, female, strangers, trusted friends and family members. They use a variety of tactics to manipulate individuals and families by exploiting their vulnerabilities in order to “sell the dream”. Vulnerabilities include an individual’s basic physiological needs such as food, shelter, financial support to meet basic needs of their family and other needs.  Traffickers also target needs related to safety, security, love and belonging. Tactics include violence, threats and lies, isolation, promises of employment and promises of love and support to name a few. 

Individuals who experience poverty, oppression, have limited to no supports such as family and friends and a history of trauma are at higher risk. Trafficking victims also include foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, males, females, individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and two-spirit (LGBTQ2+), children, youth, adults and elderly. Boys and men experience labor and sex trafficking. Research demonstrates the proportion of males who experience sex trafficking is about equal to the proportion of females who experience sex trafficking.

HT Risk Factors

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Data on labor and sex trafficking is difficult to capture and sometimes doesn’t exist. Individuals who have experienced labor and/or sex trafficking do not know that what has or is happening to them is a “crime”. Generally, individuals do not identify as “victims” or “survivors”. Traffickers use a variety of threats such as violence, shame, isolation, withholding of basic needs (food, water) to create barriers so individuals will not share what has or is happening to them. As a  result, individuals don’t share their experience, don’t seek or have access to support.

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