Identify Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a global and multi-faceted phenomenon. This modern form of slavery is characterized by the exploitation of women, men and children who are deprived of liberty. The United Nations has stated that human trafficking has exceeded the illegal sale of guns and drugs, and is now the fastest growing criminal activity in the world.

Things to Consider:

  • Are they doing work and being paid what was promised?
  • Are they being forced or pressured to work?
  • Do they have access to their papers, travel documents, or identification?
  • Are they or their loved ones being threatened?
  • Are they free to go when and where they please?

Human Trafficking vs. Human Smuggling

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between human trafficking and human smuggling. The major difference involves matters of exploitation.

HUMAN SMUGGLING involves the organized transport of persons across an international border, usually in exchange for a sum of money. The relationship between the smuggler and the person being smuggled is a voluntary business transaction which ends when the client reaches the intended destination. In this case, the financial component of a human smuggling transaction is a one-time fee paid to the smuggler before arrival or instalment payments after arrival.

Smuggling becomes HUMAN TRAFFICKING if it involves the exploitation of people through force, coercion, threat, fraud, or deception. The relationship between trafficker and victim does not end upon arrival at destination, and the trafficked person may be subjected to debt bondage, forced labor or sexual exploitation. 

International Human Trafficking

  • Trafficking of a person including the crossing of at least one international border
  • Trafficked person is transported through at least two countries
    • Source Country
      • Country of origin
    • Destination Country
      • Country into which they are trafficked
    • Transit Country
      • Additional countries the individual is transported through to get from the source country to destination country
    • Border crossing may be legal or illegal

Domestic Human Trafficking

  • Trafficking of a person within the boundaries of one country
    • Entire crime from recruitment to exploitation occurs in one country
  • Trafficked person may be a citizen, permanent resident, temporary worker, international student, refugee, etc.

Indicators of Human Trafficking

  • Signs of fear, anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance, or intimidation
  • Signs of physical abuse, such as injuries, bruises, or sexual abuse
  • Signs of poor health, poor hygiene, or malnutrition
  • Signs of substance use or self-harm behaviours, such as cutting
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather or situation
  • Accompanied by someone else who speaks on their behalf
  • No access to personal identification documents, or have fake ones
  • No personal possessions or money
  • Do not know their address and are unfamiliar with their surroundings
  • Signs of branding or scarring that indicates ownership by the trafficker
  • Distrust authorities and act as if they were instructed by someone else
  • Limited or no contact with their family and friends, and limited or no social interaction and supports

Barrier to Self-Identification and Exiting

The person may:

  • Fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones
  • Fear prosecution for illegal activities
  • Believe they are in love with their trafficker
  • Feel they have nowhere else to go if they do leave
  • Depend on their trafficker to feed their drug addiction
  • Not know what their rights are or what services are available to them
  • Fear being deported because their identity documents are being held by the trafficker
  • Distrust outsiders, especially law enforcement