Official site for the San Mateo County Human Trafficking Program

What is human Trafficking?

Human trafficking (often referred to as modern-day slavery) is the exploitation of another person through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. In 2000 President Clinton signed into law the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The Act, commonly referred to as the TVPA, created new Federal criminal statutes to fight trafficking, launched a variety of new programs and efforts to address modern slavery, and defined human as:

A. Sex Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (meaning, if the victim is under age 18 no force, fraud, or coercion need be shown); and

B. Labor Trafficking: 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.

All 50 United States have state laws that define human trafficking, usually very similar to the TVPA definition. In California, the definition is found in California Penal Code section 236.1. 

    Sex trafficking can involve victims who are adults (age 18 and over) and minors (those under age 18). Because both Federal and California law treat the crime of minor sex trafficking differently we often use the term CSEC (pronounced “see-seck”) when discussing sex trafficking of minors. CSEC stands for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. CSEC is also used to describe an individual victim: Commercial Sexually Exploited Child.

Sex trafficking commonly appears to be prostitution, but if the person engaging in commercial sex activity is exploited by a third person who uses force, fraud or coercion to compel that person to engage in the sex activity (forced prostitution) this becomes human trafficking. Sex trafficking victimizes not only girls and women, but also boys, men, and members of the LGBTQ community. Victims can be of any nationality. Labor trafficking can take many forms, again victimizing persons of any age, gender, nationality. Labor trafficking occurs when force, fraud or coercion are used to compel a person to perform labor or services against their will. Any type of labor imaginable has been performed by victims of labor trafficking.
Nobody is immune from becoming a trafficking victim. Human trafficking is limited only by the imagination and coercive power of the trafficker. What are the warning signs of human trafficking? What does the law say about human trafficking?