Exploitation and trafficking is a scary topic. You probably see it happening in movies (remember “Taken”), but you don’t realize it can happen to you or a loved one. Exploitation and trafficking is defined differently from state to state. Federal law says that human trafficking occurs when the trafficker (abuser) exploits an individual with force, fraud, or coercion (in other words, using threats or force) to make them perform commercial sex or work. Trafficking can happen in many forms and situations. We know human trafficking to be Labor Trafficking or Sex Trafficking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), human trafficking is considered a form of modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a major issue that can leave long-lasting negative impacts on individuals, families and communities.
Labor trafficking means that individuals are compelled (or forced) to work or provide services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.
Sex trafficking means that individuals are compelled (or forced) to engage in commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Federal law says that when a person under 18 years old performs a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion. In Alaska, sex trafficking involving minors is known as commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).
What Trafficking Looks Like
There are many scenarios and situations for human trafficking. In crimes of sex trafficking, often traffickers (AKA pimps) can work independently or work with other traffickers to lure and trap victims. Often, traffickers will identify people who might be vulnerable. For example, people that are alone, people that are houseless, people that have experienced violence. They may offer them jobs, a place to live, food to eat—any sense of security. They might introduce them to drugs and alcohol, which makes the situation more complex. Often, victims do not know that a crime is being committed against them.
Signs of Trafficking
- Living with employer
- Poor living conditions
- Multiple people in cramped space
- Inability to speak to an individual alone
- Answers appear to be scripted or rehearsed
- Employer is holding identity documents
- Signs of physical abuse
- Submissive or fearful
- Unpaid or paid very little
- Under 18 and in prostitution
Trafficking in Alaska
In Alaska, many Alaska Native people are especially vulnerable to trafficking, particularly youth. Homeless youth and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Two Spirit (LGBTQ2S+) youth, are at higher risk to homelessness and exploitation and trafficking than others. Additionally, youth from rural Alaska who travel or move to cities like Anchorage can be at risk for unsafe situations. It is good to know the places and people to call for help, and to educate our peers about trafficking.
Where to Go/Who to Talk to
- Federal Bureau of Investigations Alaska: FBI in Alaska: 907-265-8100
- FBI Cyber Tip Line: 1-800-843-5678
- National Human Trafficking Hotline, 24/7 – call 1-888-373-7888
- Covenant House Alaska (youth): 907-272-1255, www.covenanthouseak.org
This page was informed by the following resources: