Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

WHAT IS HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

Human trafficking is a severe form of exploitation of another person involving force, fraud, or coercion for labor or commercial sexual purposes. Trafficking does not require transportation of a person(s) across state or country borders, and may involve U.S. citizens and/or foreign nationals.

Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes 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.

WHO EXPERIENCES HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

People who have been trafficked represent groups and identities we may not have associated with this crime. They include:

  • People experiencing (or at risk of experiencing) homelessness

  • People who struggle with substance dependency

  • People who identify as LGBTQIA+

  • Sex workers

  • Minors who are not residing with their legal guardian

  • Undocumented individuals

  • Asylees and refugees

“Working on the issue of human trafficking means asking yourself and others to care about those who are often perceived as “unworthy” and rarely considered victims.”

~ Kara Napolitano, LCHT’s Research and Training Manager

WHERE DOES HUMAN TRAFFICKING OCCUR?

Human trafficking is a global issue, which means it occurs in your country, state, city and neighborhood. Trafficking has been identified in the following settings in Colorado:

  • Hospitality Sector (Restaurants, hotels, etc.)

  • Construction Industry

  • Commercial Sex Industry (Sex work, escort services, exotic dancing)

  • Within migrant and agricultural labor, the H-2 Visa Program

  • Through debt bondage to a recruiter or coyote

  • Through involuntary servitude in arranged or forced marriages

  • Through the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)

  • Within other labor operations exploiting children (Magazine crews, farm labor, etc.)

Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline

Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline is managed by the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking. Request referrals, report tips, or get help today.

MYTHS & MISCONCEPTIONS

The following are common myths and misconceptions about human trafficking*:

Reality: The federal definition of human trafficking includes both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. Both are protected under the federal trafficking statutes and have been since the TVPA of 2000. Human trafficking within the United States affects victims who are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, and undocumented workers.

Reality: Trafficking does not require transportation. Although transportation may be involved as a control mechanism to keep victims in unfamiliar places, it is not a required element of the trafficking definition. Human trafficking is not synonymous with forced migration or smuggling, which involve border crossing.

Reality: Smuggling is a crime against a country’s borders: human trafficking is a crime against a person. Each are distinct federal crimes in the United States. While smuggling requires illegal border crossing, human trafficking involves commercial sex acts or labor or services that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion, regardless of whether or not transportation occurs.

Reality: Trafficking does not require physical restraint, bodily harm, or physical force. Psychological means of control, such as threats, fraud, or abuse of the legal process, are sufficient elements of the crime. Unlike the previous federal involuntary servitude statutes (U.S.C. 1584), the new federal crimes created by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 were intended to address “subtler forms” of coercion and to broaden previous standards that only considered bodily harm.

Reality: Victims of human trafficking often do not immediately seek help or self-identify as victims of a crime due to a variety of factors, including lack of trust, self-blame, or specific instructions by the traffickers regarding how to behave when talking to law enforcement or social services. It is important to avoid making a snap judgment about who is or who is not a trafficking victim based on first encounters. Trust often takes time to develop. Continued trust-building and patient interviewing is often required to get to the whole story and uncover the full experience of what a victim has gone through.

Reality: Although poverty can be a factor in human trafficking because it is often an indicator of vulnerability, poverty alone is not a single causal factor or universal indicator of a human trafficking victim. Trafficking victims can come from a range of income levels, and many may come from families with higher socioeconomic status.

Reality: The federal definition of human trafficking encompasses both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and the crime can affect men and women, children and adults.

Reality: Trafficking can occur in legal and legitimate business settings as well as underground markets. Human trafficking has been reported in business markets such as restaurants, hotels, and manufacturing plants, as well as underground markets such as commercial sex in residential brothels and street based commercial sex.

Reality: Initial consent to commercial sex or a labor setting prior to acts of force, fraud, or coercion (or if the victim is a minor in a sex trafficking situation) is not relevant to the crime, nor is payment.

Reality: Not all foreign national victims are undocumented. Foreign national trafficked persons can be in the United States through either legal or illegal means. Although some foreign national victims are undocumented, a significant percentage may have legitimate visas for various purposes.

*These myths and misconceptions were provided by the National Trafficking Hotline.

Call or text to request referrals, report tips or get help today

Colorado’s 24/7 Human Trafficking Hotline is managed by the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking. Request referrals, report tips, or get help today.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN COLORADO

How is Colorado responding to human trafficking?

COLORADO ACTION PLAN 2.0

The Colorado Action Plan 2.0 (2019) recommendations were developed by a diverse group of survivors, practitioners, law enforcement professionals, and advocates from across Colorado after reviewing Colorado Project 2.0 data. Special attention and consideration were given to create trauma-informed and survivor-centered recommendations. The Colorado Action Plan 2.0 celebrates Colorado’s growing anti-trafficking movement, and our collective efforts to comprehensively address human trafficking.

Colorado Action Plan 2.0

COLORADO HUMAN TRAFFICKING COUNCIL

The Colorado Human Trafficking Council is a group of leaders from across various levels of government and the community who work to address human trafficking in Colorado. The Council is expected to improve comprehensive services for victims and survivors of human trafficking, to assist in the successful prosecution of human traffickers, and to enhance human trafficking prevention efforts in Colorado.

Colorado Human Trafficking Council

COLORADO PARTNERSHIPS

As of 2019, the anti-trafficking movement in Colorado includes 17 formal task forces and coalitions representing different communities across the state. They include community members, service providers, advocates and law enforcement professionals who come together with the shared goal of collaborating to combat human trafficking in their region.

Colorado Project Council

COLORADO’S HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE

Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline is a 24/7 hotline and resource directory managed by the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization. Colorado’s Human Trafficking Hotline is a survivor-informed resource created to connect individuals experiencing exploitation, individuals reporting potential human trafficking tips, and service providers in search of referral resources with available support services in a safe and anonymous manner.

Anti-trafficking voices across Colorado participating in LCHT’s Mobilize the Movement campaign.

What does it take to end human trafficking in Colorado?

The Colorado Action Plan 2.0 (2019) included the following ten key recommendations, which were developed by a diverse group of survivors, practitioners, law enforcement professionals, and advocates from across Colorado after reviewing Colorado Project 2.0 data. Special attention and consideration were given to create trauma-informed and survivor-centered recommendations. The Colorado Action Plan 2.0 celebrates Colorado’s growing anti-trafficking movement, and our collective efforts to comprehensively address human trafficking.

1

Deliver sector-specific trainings to a diverse range of Colorado communities

2

Design comprehensive trainings

3

Address potential gaps in services for survivors of human trafficking (e.g. male, female, LGBTQIA, and disabled among others) with awareness that labor and sex trafficking exist in Colorado. Expand existing programs and create new ones in undeserved communities.

4

When filling service gaps, be sensitive to root causes of human trafficking that can contribute to risk for exploitation, including environments in which survivors are at-risk of being re-trafficked.

5

Increase targeted professional development for successful prosecution of human trafficking cases

6

Recognize ongoing efforts in prosecuting sex trafficking cases, prioritize the investigation and prosecution of labor trafficking cases

7

Increase information-sharing amongst key stakeholders

8

Encourage intentional and equitable inclusion of underrepresented and/or unrecognized stakeholders in partnerships

9

Concerns related to sharing practices, protecting anonymity of contributors, sustainability of the document and its dissemination will be openly addressed by the lead organization managing the document.

10

Cultivate relationships between Colorado partnerships to increase each community’s capacity to end human trafficking

How can you contribute to anti-trafficking efforts in Colorado?

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