Despite all that one hears about trafficking, there is actually much more to the issue and many myths that must be debunked.
Human trafficking is an unequivocally heinous crime, and its impact transcends boundaries across the world. Trafficking affects the most victims in China, Pakistan, Thailand, and India (which has the highest number of victims). However, there are a number of common misconceptions about trafficking which must be dispelled; this is because the victims of human trafficking can be better identified and uplifted only when we eliminate the myths associated with trafficking and take the initiative to spread awareness amongst the populace.
Some of the most common myths are as follows:
1. "Trafficking is the same as smuggling."
Human trafficking involves exploiting men, women, or children for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation, whereas human smuggling involves providing illegal resources- typically transportation or fraudulent documents- to an individual who voluntarily seeks to gain illegal entry into a foreign country.
2. "A person receiving payment for commercial sex acts or labor cannot be a victim of trafficking."
Whether a person receives payment or other forms of compensation for commercial sex acts or labor has no effect on whether a person is trafficked. If a person is coerced to perform commercial sex acts or labor against their will, he/she is likely a victim of human trafficking regardless of payment.
3. "Human trafficking requires the victim to be physically restrained or abused."
The legal definition of 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.
4. "All foreign national trafficking victims are undocumented immigrants."
While some foreign national trafficking victims are undocumented, immigrants with legitimate visas are also trafficked.
5. "Only females are trafficked."
Men and boys are also victims of trafficking. Most men are not only trafficked to perform acts of labor, but are also trafficked in the commercial sex industry.
6. "Victims will immediately ask for help and identify themselves."
Due to an extreme lack of trust, fear of arrest, and fear of harm to loved ones, victims rarely ask for help immediately. This allows trafficking to occur in the open.
In essence, we must work towards debunking the myths associated with human trafficking. Only then we will be able to truly understand trafficking and its impact on victims.
Trafficking is an excruciating tragedy inflicted upon the individual and no one deserves to experience this pain. The first step to win the fight against human trafficking is to turn on the flashlight so the fog of misinformation can dissipate.
“Misconceptions regarding trafficking in Persons.” Voices for Victims: Lawyers Against Human Trafficking Tool Kit For Bar Association, 2013,
www.unodc.org/e4j/en/tip-and-som/module-6/key-issues/misconceptions-regarding-trafficking-in-persons.html. Accessed 17 September 2020