Victims of human trafficking include not only men and women lured into forced labor by the promise of a better life in the United States, but also boys and girls who were born and raised here in California.
Victims of human trafficking represent a range of backgrounds in terms of age, nationality, socioeconomic status, and education, but one characteristic that they usually share is some form of vulnerability. They are often isolated from their families and social networks. In some cases, victims are separated from their country of origin, native language, and culture.
Victims who are undocumented immigrants often do not report abuses to the authorities out of distrust of law enforcement, and/or fear of arrest, injury to family members, deportation, or other serious reprisals. Many domestic victims of sex trafficking are underage runaways and/or come from backgrounds of sexual and physical abuse, incest, poverty, or addiction.
Definitions of Human Trafficking
The California Legislature defined human trafficking as "all acts involved in the recruitment, abduction, transport, harboring, transfer, sale or receipt of persons, within national or across international borders, through force, coercion, fraud or deception, to place persons in situations of slavery or slavery-like conditions, forced labor or services, such as forced prostitution or sexual services, domestic servitude, bonded sweatshop labor, or other debt bondage."
As codified in the California Penal Code, anyone who "deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent . . . to obtain forced labor or services" is guilty of human trafficking. Depriving or violating a person's liberty includes "substantial and sustained restriction of another's liberty accomplished through fraud, deceit, coercion, violence, duress, menace, or threat of unlawful injury to the victim or to another person, under circumstances where the person receiving or apprehending the threat reasonably believes that it is likely that the person making the threat would carry it out."
Forced labor or services include "labor or services that are performed or provided by a person and are obtained or maintained through force, fraud, or coercion, or equivalent conduct that would reasonably overbear the will of the person."
Federal law defines trafficking in persons as "sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age"; or "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."