UW Women's Center

Anti-Human Trafficking Research & Policy Development

The Anti-Human Trafficking Research & Policy Development program is committed to collaborating with campus and community advocates to increase public awareness, advise state and local policy development, and research the contexts and consequences of forced labor.

Human Trafficking Proclamation

 

Facts and figures

40 million people estimated to be victims of forced labor globally

  • 16 million forced labor
  • 4.8 million forced sexual exploitation
  • 4.1 million state-imposed
  • 15.4 forced marriage

71% of human trafficking victims are women and girls

The rate of modern slavery is highest in Africa, with 7.6 victims for every 1,000 people in the region.

Common industries vulnerable to human trafficking

  • Domestic work
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Agriculture, forestries, and fishing
  • Accommodation and food service activities
  • Wholesale and trade
  • Personal Services
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Begging

Source: Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, Geneva, September 2017

Get help

Report a tip or request services:

  • National Human Trafficking Resource Center 24-Hour Hotline: 1-888-373-7888
  • Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network Victim Assistance Line: 206-245-0782

What is human trafficking?

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) defines human trafficking, within two pillars: labor trafficking and sex trafficking

Labor trafficking

… is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Sex trafficking

… is defined as a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person made to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.

Anti-human trafficking movement history

The anti-human trafficking movement began after countless stories of mail order brides being beaten, exploited and murdered started to surface in the mid-1990s, i.e. the devastating cases of Susana Remerata Blackwell, Helen Clemente and Anastasia King. Then State Representative Velma Veloria, Dr. Sutapa Basu, Executive Director of the UW Women’s Center, and Emma Catague, Community Organizing Program Manager at Asian & Pacific Islander (API) CHAYA (formerly Women and Family Safety Center), together set out to examine and end this emerging pattern, which no one else in the state was addressing at the time.

With the support of the State Legislature, Washington set the stage for the local and national anti-trafficking movement by becoming the first State in the nation to criminalize human trafficking in 2003.  Since then, all 50 States have enacted criminal penalties for traffickers. Read more

 


Stories of human trafficking

Custodial work

Maria* was born and raised in Mexico. Several years ago, in search of work and a better life, she hired a smuggler on a payment plan to help her cross the border without documents. Once she crossed the border, her smuggler sold her and her debt to a trafficker, who forced Maria to do custodial work in Texas. Maria was now debt-bonded to a human trafficker that held her physically captive, physically abused her, and forced her to work until her debt was paid. All the while she continued to accumulate additional debt with her trafficker, who charged her exorbitant fees for what he referred to as transportation, housing, and food.

Eventually, Maria was approached by a woman who offered to help her pay off her debt and escape from her trafficker. Desperate for freedom, she placed her trust in this woman and accepted the offer. Unfortunately, this woman, too, prayed on her vulnerability, relocated her to Washington State, and trafficked her in another custodial contract agency.

In the Pacific Northwest, Maria was debt-bonded to a new trafficker, who controlled her and the other victims by isolating them from their families, indoctrinating them with fear of the police and immigration officers, and torturing them with physical and psychological abuse.
Maria was forced to clean deserted buildings overnight and was condemned to domestic servitude during the day. Maria and her peers worked long hours, slept on the floor, and were rarely given enough food to subside their hunger. If Maria’s trafficker suspected anyone of trying to reach out for help, they were relentlessly beaten. After 3-4 years total of being trafficked, abused, and forced to clean local hotels and businesses in Washington and Texas, Maria was finally rescued herself and the child she birthed while in the U.S.

Today, Maria and her child are safe and separated from her trafficker.

*Pseudonym used to protect identity

Domestic servitude

In August 2006, Angel* was offered what seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime: a nanny job for a Filipino family in the United States. With trust in her heart and the need to provide for her four-year-old son, she made the difficult decision to accept the position and temporarily leave her son in the Philippines. Her boss organized her travel and documents, and soon she was on her way to Washington State. When Angel arrived, her employer promptly confiscated her passport, documents, and identification.

Unable to speak English and with no connection to the outside world, Angel was held captive, severely overworked, and emotionally abused. She saw no hope of change. For three years Angel never had a day off. She rose at 5:30 a.m. to prepare breakfast, pack lunches, prepare one child for school, and care for the infant. Throughout the days, she cleaned house, did laundry, cooked lunch for the grandmother, picked the son up from school, prepared dinner, and at night finished the ironing and folding. Her typical work day concluded at 9:30 p.m. All in total, 16 hour days, 7 days a week for 3 years.

“I … didn’t know what to do. I cried all the time because I couldn’t take what they did to me. I begged my employer to send me home because I didn’t deserve this…. She just said ‘No, you have to find your own way to go home,’ even though she had my documents and my money….”

The years of indentured servitude continued until one day when she was permitted to leave the house, Angel saw an opening. At a local store, she noticed another Filipina woman from church. She begged the woman to call Immigration with the hope that they would deport her and she would be able to return home to the Philippines.

The call was successful, but instead of being sent back right away, Immigration detained Angel for five weeks. It seemed she had just been transferred from one prison to another. During the waiting period, a nurse identified Angel as a victim and intervened. With Angel’s permission, the nurse referred her to a local service provider who was able to speak to her in her native language, learn the tragic story of how she was trafficked, and offer her support and the opportunity to pursue charges against her traffickers.

Today, Angel remains willingly in Washington State, has been reunited with her son, and with the support of her local community, is rebuilding her life.

*Pseudonym used to protect identity

Sex work

Olivia*, born and raised in Washington State, was in her early 20’s when she was trafficked for the first time. She had a difficult relationship with her mother, was a single mother herself and occasionally homeless. During a period of homelessness, she was staying in a local motel for shelter and was lured to another guest’s room. There, she was drugged, held captive at gunpoint and unwillingly pimped-out for several days. Her trafficker collected all the money. After about four days of being repeatedly raped, she found the strength and opportunity to escaped while her captor was away. With no known support system or services, she tried to return to her normal life.

Longing for companionship, support, and stability, she started dating a man who offered the sense of belonging she yearned for. Soon, this relationship turned terrifyingly violent. Olivia was physically and psychologically abuse and forced to suffer through transactional sex for money and drugs. Her ‘boyfriend’ collected and kept everything she earned.

Eventually, after an arrest and compassionate caseworker, Olivia was offered the resources and support to rescue herself from nearly a year victimhood. Today she lives a fulfilling and healthy life.

Elderly caretaker

Jay* was working as a construction worker in the Philippines when his employer offered him an opportunity in the United States. Very excited by the offer and prospect of career growth, he diligently completed the necessary visa paperwork as instructed. Jay trusted his boss completely and therefore by association, his boss’ colleague helping him with his travel arrangements and the prospective employer in the U.S.

When Jay arrived in Los Angeles, CA he was greeted by a woman who immediately confiscated his passport and informed Jay he would be living and working at an elderly care facility. To his surprise, he was also told he owed $12,000 dollars and was locked into a 10-year commitment. Until all debts were paid, he was owned by his trafficker. Completely at the mercy of his trafficker, Jay was forced to take care of patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He changed diapers, did laundry, and even performed construction work around the facility. Jay had no bedroom and was not permitted to sleep, so when no one was looking and all the patients were asleep, he slept on the floor in the hallway. Jay also was not provided food, so he would eat unclaimed scraps off patients plates.

This continued until a colleague, another trafficking victim, called the FBI and he was connected with a local service provider who has since helped him find housing and pursue an education in the U.S.

*Pseudonym used to protect identity