Glossary & Definitions

Words and Phrases Commonly Used in Reference to Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery:

Acquisition of Slaves
Bonded Labor
Boycott
Chattel Slavery
Child Sex Trafficking
Coercion
Commercial Sex Act
Continued Presence
Contract Slavery
Convention or Covenant
Debt Bondage (or bonded labor) Slavery
Debt Bondage Amongst Migrant Laborers
Exploitation
Federal Law Enforcement Authorization (LEA)
Forced Labor
Forced Child Labor
Grooming
Human Smuggling
Human Trafficking
Involuntary Domestic Servitude
Involuntary (or forced) Labor Slavery
    Involuntary Servitude
Migrant Labor
Movement
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Palermo Protocols
Peonage
Restavecs
Servile or Forced Marriage
Sex Industry
Sex Trafficking
Slave
Slave Trading
Slavery
Supply Side
Treaty
Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 (TVPA)
Underground Commercial Sex Economy (UCSE)
Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers
Worst Forms of Child Labor

Further Information

Acquisition of Slaves

Acquisition of slaves primarily occurs in one of five ways:

  • Deceit entails the false offer of a job, travel, or other income-generating opportunity for the purpose of acquiring a slave.
  • Sale by Family conditions of poverty, desperation, and displacement lead many families to sell a child into slavery. Such sales are almost always heartbreaking decisions that parents are forced to make due to extremes of destitution few Westerners can imagine. In rare cases, parents sell their children out of greed.
  • Abduction is not as frequent a means as the mainstream media portrays. Transportation is much more challenging and abducted victims are inherently unwilling to travel and will try to escape at any opportunity.
  • Seduction is where victims are originally acquired through promises of love. “Lover boys” are agents who approach attractive and vulnerable young girls, offering them undying love, treating them to extravagant gifts, and seducing them to migrate to a rich country where they can build a life together.
  • Recruitment by Former Slaves which can be the hardest to grasp until taking into account the numerous adaptive mechanisms slaves utilize to survive their ordeals, including drug and alcohol abuse and the morose acceptance that the life of a slave is the best life they deserve. After many brainwashing years, some slaves become allies to the slave owners.(7)
Bonded Labor

One form of coercion is the use of a bond or debt. U.S. law prohibits the use of a debt or other threats of financial harm as a form of coercion and the Palermo Protocol requires its criminalization as a form of trafficking in persons. Some workers inherit debt; for example, in South Asia it is estimated that there are millions of trafficking victims working to pay off their ancestors’ debts. Others fall victim to traffickers or recruiters who unlawfully exploit an initial debt assumed as a term of employment.

Debt bondage of migrant laborers in their countries of origin, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country, can also contribute to a situation of debt bondage. Such circumstances may occur in the context of employment-based temporary work programs when a worker’s legal status in the country is tied to the employer and workers fear seeking redress.(6)

Boycott

Organized effort by consumers to stop purchasing targeted products and/or to stop supporting targeted companies, with the intent to pressure the company to alter some business practice.(1)

Chattel Slavery

One person assumes complete legal ownership over another. Chattel slavery is the only type where the slave is considered the legal property of the slaveholder, and it exists today primarily in Mauritania and other parts of Northern Africa. (Slavery is technically illegal in these countries, but law enforcement there often returns escaped slaves to their slave holders based on the asserted ownership just as if the practice was legal.) This is the type of slavery that existed in the antebellum American South.(1)

Child Sex Trafficking

Trafficking of minors for the purpose of commercial sex acts is a form of modern-day slavery. Child sex trafficking occurs when a person under the age of 18 is induced to engage in commercial sex. Unlike other forms of trafficking, there is no need to show that a minor has been forced, coerced or defrauded into engaging in commercial sex. If a minor has been induced to perform commercial sex in any way, that minor is a victim of human trafficking.(10)

Coercion

Threats of serious harm or physical restraint against any person; any scheme, plan or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or threatened abuse of legal process.(3)

Commercial Sex Act

Any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.(4)

Continued Presence

Allows victims who lack legal status and are assisting law enforcement as potential witnesses to remain in the country for the course of criminal investigation. Through continued presence, victims can receive temporary immigration relief.(5)

Contract Slavery

Relatively modern form of slavery, where a worker is deceived into slavery through the use of a false employment contract. Slave holders create contracts to lure individuals with promises of employment, yet once they arrive at the workplace they are forced to work for no pay and cannot escape. The false contracts are used to avoid criminal charges or to prove that a “debt” is owed to the slaveholder.(1)

Convention or Covenant

Legally binding agreement between states sponsored by an international organization. (1)

Debt Bondage (or bonded labor) Slavery

The most common method of enslavement in the world today, accounting for nearly 20 million of the world’s slaves. It begins when a person accepts a loan from a moneylender, often in order to purchase basic necessities such as food or medicine. The person (and often his or her family as well) are held as collateral against the loan. Because they are collateral, their work does not repay the debt but ‘belongs’ to the moneylender. Unable to earn money independently, the family is unable to repay the illegal debt and it is passed down from generation to generation, creating hereditary enslavement. This system is well-entrenched in South Asia, and can trap entire families in slavery for illegal debts as small as $40.(1)

Debt Bondage Amongst Migrant Laborers

Abuses of contracts and hazardous conditions of employment for migrant laborers do not necessarily constitute human trafficking. However, the imposition of illegal costs and debts on these laborers in the source country, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country, can contribute to a situation of debt bondage. This is the case even when the worker’s status in the country is tied to the employer in the context of employment-based temporary work programs.(6)

Exploitation

Exploitation begins the moment the slave is acquired. Slaves are raped, tortured, starved, humiliated, and drugged during transportation, both for the pleasure of traffickers and also to break the slaves to make them more submissive upon sale.(7)

Federal Law Enforcement Authorization (LEA)

Refers to any federal law enforcement agency that has the responsibility and authority for the detection, investigation, or prosecution of severe forms of trafficking in persons. Qualified LEAs include, but are not limited to, the offices of the Department of Justice, United States Attorney, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), United States Marshal Service, and the Diplomatic Security Service of the Department of State. Certification of a person as a "trafficking victim" by a LEA is required by the TVPA before a trafficking victim can apply for the T Visa.(5)

Forced Labor

Forced labor, sometimes also referred to as labor trafficking, encompasses the range of activities – recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining – involved when a person uses force or physical threats, psychological coercion, abuse of the legal process, deception, or other coercive means to compel someone to work. Once a person’s labor is exploited by such means, the person’s previous consent or effort to obtain employment with the trafficker becomes irrelevant. Migrants are particularly vulnerable to this form of human trafficking, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries. Female victims of forced or bonded labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well.(6)

Forced Child Labor

Although children may legally engage in certain forms of work, forms of slavery or slavery-like practices continue to exist as manifestations of human trafficking, despite legal prohibitions and widespread condemnation. A child can be a victim of human trafficking regardless of the location of that nonconsensual exploitation. Some indicators of possible forced labor of a child include situations in which the child appears to be in the custody of a non-family member who requires the child to perform work that financially benefits someone outside the child’s family and does not offer the child the option of leaving. Anti-trafficking responses should supplement, not replace, traditional actions against child labor, such as remediation and education. When children are enslaved, however, their abusers should not escape criminal punishment by taking weaker administrative responses to child labor practices.(6)

Grooming

Generally, grooming is a phased, gradual process used by perpetrators to sexually exploit children and young people. It can take place over varying periods of time – from a few days to several years. It can also take different forms, and be more or less violent. Although the process of grooming someone may come in stages, each case is unique in its development.

Typical grooming involves a number of stages:

  • Initial Contact may be direct or through a child’s school mates, friends, siblings or neighbors. Typically someone who is regarded as an equal. Points of contact include home, school, shopping malls, entertainment arcades, leisure clubs, bus and train stations.
  • Befriending after initial contact includes being introduced to one or more older men who pose as or are the initial contact’s older brother or cousin. This stage involves perpetrators using coercive and non-coercive seductive and deceptive behavior. Non-coercive behavior includes buying gifts, making promises, giving excessive attention, telling lies, exploiting the child’s infatuation, attributing guilt, damaging the child’s self-esteem and offering a luxurious, expensive and exciting lifestyle. Coercive measures include using force and violence, making threats and intimidation, alienating the individual from the family, supplying alcohol and drugs, and introducing the child to criminal associations.
  • Exchange of favors follows the befriending stage, where the child typically feels infatuated with the older man, interprets his attention and behaviour as love and regards him as a ‘boyfriend’. The child’s infatuation can override and weaken the child’s ability to see through and resist the coercion and deception. At this point, the man then seeks sexual favours for himself and for others. The child is expected to perform sexual acts as either proof of the child’s love for this man or as a way of paying for the ‘kindness’ shown during the befriending stage. The child is normally unaware that money is exchanging hands. Although legally significant, the awareness of the exchange of money is a minor consideration. More serious for the child is the demand for sexual activity and the actual experience of it, which can be profoundly shocking and shaming. The perpetrators use the shame against the child as it makes it more difficult for the child to seek help.
  • Control is used when the child expresses unwillingness to return to sexual favors, the perpetrators start making threats. Control is gained over the child by encouraging the child to play hooky from school and fear reprisals from parents and school authorities, showing the child weapons in the car or on the person keeping the child under constant threat, encouraging addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and making the child dependent on him to supply these, photographing the child performing sexual activities and threatening to publicize the images, involving the child in criminal activities and threatening the child with police action, using physical violence and threats against the child and the child’s family.
  • Exploitation occurs in the later stages, the perpetrators build upon the alienation which may have begun in earlier stages through the child’s skipping school, deception and concealment. The perpetrators continue to seek to sever the child’s links with family, friends and other support systems. Distance means the perpetrators’ activities go unhindered. The child is led further into a life of violence, exploitation and crime. The sexually exploitation process results in the child earning money to support the child’s ‘needs’ and those of the perpetrators. Control and alienation is exercised by encouraging over 16s to seek their own accommodation in order to exploit the distance from support networks and create a widened, irreversible gap; proactively seeking accommodation for the child; encouraging the child to make abuse claims against family members; using ‘love’ AND physical and mental torture; encouraging teenage pregnancy and then exercising further control via a baby or arranging a termination; and creating conflicting feelings of love and hate, protection and exploitation, guilt and innocence, entitlements and duties.

Although some children are able to free themselves from their perpetrators, the whole experience, particularly when it is sustained over a long time during a period of significant personal development, can profoundly change the child’s personality and affect their life prospects and chances. This includes the child experiencing significant psychological effects and extends to the child facing adverse social and economic consequences.(9)

Human Smuggling

Helping someone to illegally cross country borders, often without identification or papers, for financial or material benefit. Smuggling ends with the arrival of the migrants at their destination, whereas trafficking involves the ongoing exploitation of the victims in some manner to generate illicit profits for the traffickers.(5)

Human Trafficking

Trafficking in human beings is the illegal trade of human beings, through abduction, the use of threat of force, deception, fraud, or “sale” for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor.(2) The term ‘human trafficking’ often has a specific legal definition based on the laws of countries or states or the conventions of international organizations, and those official definitions differ slightly from place to place. For example, under US law, anyone under 18 who is in prostitution is considered a trafficking victim.(1)

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

One form of coercion is the use of a bond or debt. U.S. law prohibits the use of a debt or other threats of financial harm as a form of coercion and the Palermo Protocol requires its criminalization as a form of trafficking in persons. Some workers inherit debt; for example, in South Asia it is estimated that there are millions of trafficking victims working to pay off their ancestors’ debts. Others fall victim to traffickers or recruiters who unlawfully exploit an initial debt assumed as a term of employment.

Debt bondage of migrant laborers in their countries of origin, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country, can also contribute to a situation of debt bondage. Such circumstances may occur in the context of employment-based temporary work programs when a worker’s legal status in the country is tied to the employer and workers fear seeking redress.(6)

Involuntary (or forced) Labor Slavery

Condition of compulsory service or labor performed by one person, against his or her will, for the benefit of another person due to force, threats, intimidation or other similar means of coercion and compulsion directed against him or her.(1)

Involuntary Servitude

Includes a condition of servitude induced by means of (a) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or (b) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.(3)

Migrant Labor

Work done by people who travel from place to place for employment. Migrant laborers today are commonly immigrants, sometimes illegal, and often exploited by their employer. Most migrant labor is in agriculture, and the workers move around the country to harvest crops during different growing seasons. They are usually paid little for work, sometimes crossing the line into slavery when they are paid nothing and unable to leave.(1)

Movement

Movement from countries of origin through transit countries into destination countries. In the case of internal trafficking, the same country acts as origin, transit, and destination.(7)

Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)

Non-profit organization which is not part of any state or interstate agency.(1)

Palermo Protocols

Three protocols adopted by the United Nations in 2000 in Palermo, Italy, together with the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. One of the three is The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which was adopted by General Assembly resolution 55/25. It entered into force on 25 December 2003. It is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons. The intention behind this definition is to facilitate convergence in national approaches with regard to the establishment of domestic criminal offences that would support efficient international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases. An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights.(8)

Peonage

Holding someone against his or her will to pay off a debt.(5)

Restavecs

Children in Haiti are given or sold by their parents into domestic work for another family. The children are promised to education, training and care, but many become slaves for the family, where they are abused and forced to work.(1)

Servile or Forced Marriage

A marriage where the woman has been forced or coerced into marriage against her will. The woman is forced to work, and frequently physically and sexually abused. In some cases the woman has been sold into the marriage.(1)

Sex Industry

Sector of the economy in which sexual acts, performances or images are exchanged for money.(1)

Sex Trafficking

The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.(4) When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution – or maintained in prostitution through one of these means after initially consenting – that person is a victim of trafficking. Under such circumstances, perpetrators involved in recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for that purpose are responsible for trafficking crimes. Sex trafficking also may occur within debt bondage, as women and girls are forced to continue in prostitution through the use of unlawful “debt” purportedly incurred through their transportation, recruitment, or even their crude “sale” – which exploiters insist they must pay off before they can be free. A person’s initial consent to participate in prostitution is not legally determinative: if one is thereafter held in service through psychological manipulation or physical force, he or she is a trafficking victim and should receive benefits outlined in the Palermo Protocol and applicable domestic laws.(6)

Slave

A person held against his or her will and controlled physically or psychologically by violence or its threat for the purpose of appropriating their labor.(1)

Slave Trading

The process of acquiring, recruiting, harboring, receiving, transporting an individual, through any means and for any distance, into a condition of slavery or slave-like exploitation.(7)

Slavery

The process of coercing labor or other services from a captive individual, through any means, including exploitation of bodies or body parts. Slave Trading represents the supply side of trafficking whereas slavery represents the demand side.(7)

Supply Side

These are the several factors that have contributed to the supply of potential slave labor throughout history, including poverty, bias against gender or ethnicity, lawlessness, military conflict, social instability, and economic breakdown. Each factor was also directly exacerbated by the sweeping phenomenon of economic globalization.(7)

Treaty

Legally binding agreement between two or more states.(1)

Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 (TVPA)

Federal U.S. legislation passed in 2000 that emphasizes the prevention of trafficking, protection of victims and the prosecution of traffickers.

Underground Commercial Sex Economy (UCSE)

The illegal financial system around the sale of human beings for sexual purposes.

Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers

Child soldiering is a manifestation of human trafficking when it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children – through force, fraud, or coercion – by armed forces as combatants or other forms of labor. Some child soldiers are also sexually exploited by armed groups. Perpetrators may be government armed forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. Many children are forcibly abducted to be used as combatants. Others are unlawfully made to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with male combatants. Both male and female child soldiers are often sexually abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.(6)

Worst Forms of Child Labor

Term used in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 182; refers to child labor involving slavery, trafficking, forced labor, child soldiering, commercial sexual exploitation.(1)


Further Information

More Language Specific to Trafficker Controlled Sexual Exploitation


1.Free The Slaves online glossary (https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=305)
2.Definition based on the UN Protocol to Prevent,Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000)
3.Midwest Immigrant and Human Rights Center 2003
4.Ibid
5.New Jersey Anti-Trafficking Initiative at the International Institute of New Jersey 2006
6.Trafficking in Persons Report 2012
7.Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, Siddharth Kara
8.United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime- http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/index.html
9.CROP http://www.cropuk.org.uk/grooming
10.Polaris Project, http://www.ocwtp.net/PDFs/DL/HT/Child_Sex_Trafficking_At_A_Glance.pdf