According to the Palermo Protocol, human trafficking is:
“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, 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 or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”
Human trafficking is illegal, immoral, and exploitive. Forced labor, unethical adoptions, child soldiers, forced marriage, organ trafficking, and child pornography are all different forms of human slavery. Furthermore, under U.S. and international law, commercially sexually exploited children found in the sex trade are considered victims of trafficking, even if no force or coercion is present.
There is a tendency to use statistics or pictures of people in chains to describe the horror of trafficking. But we must always remember, human trafficking is real humans having to endure real exploitation at the hands of other real humans who are battling their own demons. Some indeed are chained in dark rooms, but the majority are bound by threats, debt, desperation, social conditions, and family obligations that remove personal freedom to choose — keeping them in captivity.