what is human trafficking?

The Palermo Protocol

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, drafted in Palermo, Italy in 2000 and put into effect in 2003, defined human trafficking for the first time. According to the Protocol, human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

Human trafficking consists of three aspects:
act (WHAT), means (HOW), purpose (WHY)


Receipt of Persons


Threat or Use of Force
Abuse of Power
Abuse of Vulnerability


Prostitution of Others
Sexual Exploitation
Forced Labor
Slavery/Similar Practices
Removal of Organs
Other Exploitation


According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and its reauthorizations in 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2013, there are two forms of severe human trafficking:

  • Sex Trafficking: where force, fraud, or coercion are used to make someone perform a commercial sex act, or where someone who is not 18 performs a commercial sex act.
  • Forced Labor: where force, fraud, or coercion are used to recruit, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain a person for labor or services, or subject a person to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) takes place when any person 18-years-old or younger provides a sexual service of any type for any type of payment. Because children are not adults, it does not matter if consent has been granted. CSEC includes child marriage, sex work, pornography, child sex tourism, and sex trafficking. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a human and child rights violation, carrying heavy penalties throughout the world. Many nations, including the US, will prosecute violators even if the crime was committed outside of national jurisdiction.

Thailand: A Microcosm

Thailand is a microcosm of the global human trafficking and CSEC epidemic. Many of its estimated 425,500 trafficking victims are forced laborers in the fish, garment, or shrimp industries. Many other Thais are exploited in the commercial sex industry. While technically illegal in Thailand, the sale of sex happens openly, and it’s estimated that up to 60,000 children take part in the Thai commercial sex trade every year. The average age of these children is between 12 and 20 years old, and the majority of them come from the less-developed regions of Northern Thailand.

Together, we can prevent human trafficking and champion human rights.