Overview of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is modern day slavery that touches every corner of the globe. This multi-billion criminal enterprise is the fastest growing crime in the world. Human trafficking involves both commercial sexual exploitation and labor servitude. The average age of entry for victims is 12-14 years old.
Definition of Human Trafficking
The term "human trafficking" is used in common parlance to describe many forms of exploitation of human beings. Human trafficking crimes focus on the act of compelling or coercing a person's labor, services, or commercial sex acts; or using children under the age of 18 for commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological, but it must be used to coerce a victim into performing labor, services, or commercial sex acts. The laws against trafficking are rooted in the prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude guaranteed by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The victims include some of the most vulnerable in society: abused children who’ve run away from home, women with few job skills, immigrants who fear deportation or retaliation against their families overseas if they speak up. For them, there is little hope of escape.
Sex trafficking is the use of force, coercion or deception to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain, another person for the purpose of commercial sexual activities.
If the victim is a minor under age 18, force, coercion and deception not required in cases of sex trafficking. Human trafficking, in the case of a minor is recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, or maintaining, another person for the purpose of commercial sexual activities.
Labor trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to recruit, harbor, transport, obtain or employ a person for labor or services in involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. Force, fraud or coercion must be present in case of labor trafficking involving a minor.
The Law in Georgia
In 2011, the Office of the Attorney General joined forces with Senator Renee Unterman and Representative Edward Lindsey to advocate for a stronger human trafficking law in Georgia. HB 200 went into effect on July 1, 2011. HB 200:
- Substantially increases the punishment for human trafficking from a possible one year sentence to a minimum of ten years. If the trafficking causes a minor to commit sex acts by coercion or deception, human traffickers now face 25 years to life in prison, up from maximum sentence of 20 years. Offenders can also be fined up to $100,000.00.
- Takes the important step of no longer allowing the age of consent (16) or the lack of knowledge of the age of the victim to be used as a defense.
- Broadens the definition of coercion to recognize and encompass additional ways that victims are coerced into exploitation.
- Authorizes asset forfeiture for property derived from or used in trafficking
- Provides training for law enforcement.
- Increases punishments for pimping, pandering and keeping a house of prostitution, when the victim is under 16 years of age from five to twenty years to ten to thirty years.
- Makes victims of human trafficking eligible for victim compensation for the serious mental and emotional trauma they experience.