The U.S. Department of State has released its “Trafficking in Persons Report 2018.” The in-depth 486 page report outlines many facets of human trafficking, from the general business practices of local crimes of opportunity (like an abusive boyfriend selling his girlfriend‘s body for money), all the way up to larger, illicit organizations that traffic people for both sex and labor all over the world. It discusses the ways people are combatting human trafficking throughout various countries, as well as global efforts where nations work together (or in many cases, do not).

In the opening of the report, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that, “Modern slavery has no place in the world, and I intend to ensure, through diplomatic engagement and increased action, that the United States government’s leadership in combating this global threat is sustained in the years to come.”

The State Department defines human trafficking as such:

  • [S]ex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an 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.

They make an important clarification after this definition, one that might clear up a misconception many have about human trafficking: “A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another for the crime to fall within this definition.”

Read the report in its entirety here (PDF).

As the report is coming from the United States government, it is writing from that perspective but it is also speaking on a global scale. It sheds light on the importance of task forces, how it allows governments or law enforcement agencies within countries to continue to do their jobs, while simultaneously helping one another’s work with shared information and cooperation. This includes training at a local level, agency level, inter-agency level, and international level — coordination, proper responses, handling victims, handling perpetrators and distinguishing them from the victims, are just a few of the many facets involved in these sorts of operations.

It also includes community awareness. It goes on to show how some countries abroad have seen successful movements against local trafficking in their communities. It makes this interesting point that is as relevant to a farmer in Myanmar as it is to a middle class American:

In many cases, human trafficking is hidden by the appearance of regularity. In particular, adult victims often interact with others and may even engage in routine transactions in the course of their victimization, yet their compelled service may be imperceptible to the general observer. This is true for both sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Traffickers rely on these conditions, which enable them to control victims even when they interact with others.”