Debunking Common Trafficking Myths

Initial Consent: A person may agree to migrate legally or illegally or take a job willingly. But once that work or service is no longer voluntary, that person becomes a victim of forced labor or forced prostitution and should accordingly receive the protections contemplated by the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. Once a person’s work is recruited or compelled by the use or threat of physical violence or the abuse or threatened abuse of legal process, the person’s previous consent or effort to obtain employment with the trafficker becomes irrelevant. 

A person may agree to work for an employer initially but later decide to stop working because the conditions are not what they agreed to. If an employer then uses force, fraud, or coercion to retain the person’s labor or services, the employer becomes a trafficking offender and the employee becomes a victim.

Prior Work History: Previous employment choices also do not exclude the possibility that a person maybe a victim of trafficking. Some government officials fail to identify victims of sex trafficking because they may have willingly worked in the sex industry prior to being trafficked. Law enforcement may fail also to identify victims of labor trafficking because they are migrant workers and may have previously worked in difficult conditions, either legally or illegally. Whether a person is a victim of labor trafficking turns on whether that person’s service or labor was induced by force, fraud, or coercion.

Wage Payment: If a person is compelled to labor through the use of force or coercion- including the use of nonphysical forms of coercion such as financial harm- then that work or service is forced, even if he is paid or compensated for the work.