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Definitions and Legal

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and its subsequent reauthorizations define human trafficking as:

a) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

b) 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. (22 U.S.C. § 7102(9)).

(2) COERCION.    —The term ‘‘coercion’’ means—

(A) threats of serious harm to or physical restraint against any person;

(B) 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

(C) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

 

(3) COMMERCIAL SEX ACT.   —The term ‘‘commercial sex act’’ means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

 

(4) DEBT BONDAGE.   —The term ‘‘debt bondage’’ means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.

(5) INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE.   —The term ‘‘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.

 

(8) SEVERE FORMS OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS.   —The term ‘‘severe forms of trafficking in persons’’ means—

(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

(B) 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.

 

(9) SEX TRAFFICKING.   —The term ‘‘sex trafficking’’ means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.

 

(13) VICTIM OF A SEVERE FORM OF TRAFFICKING.   —The term ‘‘victim of a severe form of trafficking’’ means a person subject to an act or practice described in paragraph (8).

 

(14) VICTIM OF TRAFFICKING.   —The term ‘‘victim of trafficking’’ means a person subjected to an act or practice described in paragraph (8) or (9).

*Global Estimates of Modern Slavery:  Forced Labour and Force Marriage, International Labour Organization, Walk Free Foundation, and the International Organization for Migration (2017)

**Busch-Armendariz, N.B., Nale, N.L. Kammer-Kerwick, M., Kellison, B., M.I.M., Cook Heffon, L., Nehme, J. (2016).  Human Trafficking by the Numbers:  The Initial Benchmark of Prevalence and Economic Impact for Texas.  Austin, TX: Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the University of Texas at Austin.