Synthesizing Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts: The Paths Already Taken, Amplifiers of Risk, and the Paths Forward

Synthesizing Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts: The Paths Already Taken, Amplifiers of Risk, and the Paths Forward

Sharon K. Andrews (University of Houston-Clear Lake, USA) and Caroline M. Crawford (University of Houston-Clear Lake, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3926-5.ch001
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Anti-human trafficking efforts have been broadly classified as originating from within governmental and non-governmental organizations. This chapter presents a framing overview of these efforts, as well as the known vulnerability risks to trafficking as introductory material. This is followed by the identification and supporting discussion of a set of vulnerability amplifiers that may increase the vulnerability of victims to trafficking. These amplifiers include the presence of social normalization of deviance, a lack of enforcement of labor laws, a remaining lack of recognition regarding labor trafficking, and resulting ramifications. These risk amplifiers form the basis for a set of paths forward principles, offered to guide community development actions to improve prevention and detection of human trafficking.
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Anti-Slavery International (2022) describes human trafficking as “the process of trapping people through the use of violence, deception or coercion and exploiting them for financial or personal gain” (para. 1). Polaris (2021b) classifies human trafficking, through a global lens that designates “… there are two general categories of human trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking” (para. 4). This classification reflects Polaris’s citing of U.S. federal laws’ description of human trafficking as “the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel a person into commercial sex acts or to work against their will” (, p.1). Polaris currently describes the crime of human trafficking as “a dynamic crime that will morph to fit the circumstances [making it] even more difficult to reduce trafficking through law enforcement alone and argues for strategies that are based on prevention rather than response” (Polaris, 2021a, para.12). This description is insightful, as it suggests a need for proactive anti-human trafficking efforts in the U.S. to focus upon prevention strategies rather than on the immediacy of response strategies.

Towards supporting a framework of understanding, Polaris (2017) describes the types of sex trafficking forced upon trafficked victims as occurring within sectors of illegitimate and legitimate business such as online prostitution, forced street prostitution, forced Internet pornography, forced residential-based prostitution, brothel-based prostitution, truck stop-based prostitution, and massage parlor-based prostitution, among other types of compelled or coerced prostitution. Labor trafficking has been described as taking place in areas such as domestic work, manufacturing, commercial cleaning, landscaping, health and beauty services, field farming, peddling, and begging (Polaris, 2022a). Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking are crimes realized through the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit the victim. The key stages of human trafficking have been described as consisting of: recruitment, movement, and exploitation. During the recruitment stage targets are selected and traffickers may assume the role of boyfriend or lover in order to recruit. Recruitment is followed by transportation of the victim to the target area, followed by the exploitation (Paraskevas & Brookes, 2018). It should be noted that traffickers are now recognized to be female as well as male and victims certainly include males (Anti-Slavery International, 2022;, 2021).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE): The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe comprises 57 participating states spanning three continents, Europe, North America, and Asia. It addresses security-related concerns including combatting human trafficking, arms control, human rights, policing strategies, counterterrorism, and migration.

Modern Slavery: Modern slavery has been a term used by many to refer to human trafficking. It refers to the exploitation of humans into forced labor or servile marriage, or the sale of humans. Such a person cannot refuse or leave due to coercion, threats, abuse of power or deception.

Vulnerability Risks: The risk of a person being targeted by a trafficker is elevated by traits a person may possess which the traffickers use to gain control over such person. These traits are called vulnerability risks: meaning vulnerable to being trafficked. Traffickers actively target people who are known to possess these traits. These traits are listed in Table 1 of this chapter.

Risk Amplifier: A risk amplifier, in the context of this chapter, is a trait or environmental factor that, if present, may increase the risk of being trafficked over and above already known vulnerability risks. AU73: Reference appears to be out of alphabetical order. Please check

Trafficking and Victims Protection Act (TVPA): Established in 2000 the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ( U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 2000 ) is the cornerstone of counter-trafficking efforts. It provides guidance for identifying and defining human trafficking, and it authorizes legislation and appropriations for subsequent counter-trafficking measures both within and outside of the US federal government. It is designed to punish traffickers, protect victims, and facilitate prevention efforts in the fight against human trafficking. Under this law traffickers can be sent to prison for up to 20 years for each victim.

Polaris: Polaris is a U.S. organization that runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) as well as run projects centered upon understanding and recognizing human trafficking (known as Polaris Project) with an end goal of derailing and preventing human trafficking. These projects are publicly available on their website ( as well as data collected through the National Hotline.

International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL): International Criminal Police Organization that is an inter-governmental organization consisting of 195 member countries, formed to help police in these countries to work together to fight crime. INTERPOL works to train police to identify and investigate cases of forced labor, organ removal, forced criminal activities, and sex exploitation.

UNODC: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It is based in Vienna, Austria, operates globally in 80 countries. UNODC strives for the eradication of crime through the dismantling of the criminal enterprises that trade in people and the conviction of the main perpetrators.

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