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Human trafficking is a global issue, as well a local one. Trafficking is, simply stated, a form of slavery, and it is a crime. Trafficking is complex; it entails “the exploitation of someone for the purpose of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.”[1] Sex trafficking of youth under the age 18 is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion.[2]  While there is no shared profile of victims, human trafficking most effects marginalized individuals in society - the poor, immigrants, and refugees, and those with unstable living situations.[3] Within the United States, victims of trafficking are disproportionately girls and women of color[4], and those who have been in contact with the child welfare system, have run away from home or foster homes or have aged out of the foster care system, and people who are experiencing homelessness.[5] Many victims are foreign nationals, who face unique challenges and language barriers. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, the total number of human trafficking victims, including adults and minors, reaches into the hundreds of thousands.[6]

[1] "Human Trafficking," National Human Trafficking Hotline, Polaris, accessed September 10, 2018, https://humantraffickinghotline.org/type-trafficking/human-trafficking.

[2] IBID.

[3] “Building the Capacity of Community Health Centers to Address Human Trafficking,” AAPCHO Policy Brief 2015, accessed September 10, 2018, http://www.aapcho.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/AAPCHO-Human-Trafficking-Policy-Brief_103015.pdf.  

[4] Michelle Lillie, “Human Trafficking: Not All Black or White,” Human Trafficking Search, accessed September 10, 2018, http://humantraffickingsearch.org/human-trafficking-not-all-black-or-white/

[5] Liza Kane-Hartnett, “The Foster Care-Human Trafficking Nexus,” Human Trafficking Search, January 16, 2018, accessed September 10, 2018, http://humantraffickingsearch.org/foster-care-and-human-trafficking-nexus/

[6] “The Facts,” Polaris, accessed September 10, 2018, https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/facts.