Myths and Realities
“Trafficking doesn’t happen in the United States.”
Trafficking is happening right here, right now. Since 2001, the Anti-Trafficking Collaborative of the Bay Area (ATCBA), formerly the Asian Anti-Trafficking Collaborative (AATC), has served several hundreds of victims of human trafficking, the majority of whom had been trafficked into the Greater Bay Area, since 2001. According to the report, Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California, released by the Berkeley Human Rights Center and Free the Slaves in February 2005, California alone has had over 57 forced labor operations in almost a dozen cities between 1998 and 2003 alone. In California, 80% of the documented human trafficking cases occurred in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
“Human trafficking is about prostitution.”
Human trafficking is not just about forced prostitution. Individuals of any spectrum can be trafficked for forced labor, which includes commercial sex. The victims that we have served have been trafficked and forced into situations involving domestic servitude, restaurant work, even teaching in public schools. Under U.S. federal law, human trafficking can include the recruitment, transfer, harboring, transportation or receipt of a person if it is for the purpose of enforced exploitation. Human trafficking takes many forms and in every industry where a worker can be exploited and compelled through force, fraud, or coercion to work against his or her will, human trafficking is happening. Until incidents of trafficking are better identified and documented, human trafficking will continually be under-reported, and we will not have an accurate snapshot of the types of exploitation.
We may be more exposed to commercial sex trafficking, and subsequently think that there is more sex trafficking because it is often the focus of governments and media reports. But labor trafficking is more prevalent, and it can often go unnoticed. Labor trafficking can be difficult to identify for many reasons, and one of these reasons is that workplace disputes might be seen as a wage and hour violation, versus labor trafficking. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that for every 1 victim of sex trafficking, there are 9 victims of labor trafficking worldwide.