chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
January 01, 2013

Glossary of Human-Trafficking Acronyms and Terms

Compiled by Noreen Muhib, ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking

3P Protection, prevention, prosecution

CSEC Commercial sexual exploitation of children

DHS Department of Homeland Security

DOJ Department of Justice

HHS U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ICE U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

NGO Nongovernmental organization

NHTRC National Human Trafficking Resource Center

OAS Organization of American States

ORR Office of Refuge Resettlement

OVC Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crimes

PITF Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking

TIP Office Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

TIP Report Trafficking in Persons Report

TVPA Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000

UNODC United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

USCIS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

“3P” paradigm: The paradigm, outlined in the United Nation’s (UN) trafficking in persons protocol and the United States’ TVPA, stands for protection, prevention, and prosecution.

Child soldiers: Involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children through force, fraud, or coercion as combatants, or for labor or sexual exploitation by armed forces. Perpetrators may be government forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. Some children are made to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with male combatants.

Child trafficking: Forms of child trafficking include trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, labor trafficking, removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, use in begging, and recruitment of athletes.

Coercion: Under the TVPA, coercion is defined as (A) threats of serious harm or physical restraint; (B) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or (C) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

Commercial sex act: Under the TVPA, commercial sex act means any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC): In 1996, the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children defined CSEC as sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object. CSEC includes the prostitution of children, child pornography, child sex tourism, and other forms of transactional sex where a child engages in sexual activities to have key needs fulfilled, such as food, shelter, or access to education. It includes forms of transactional sex where the sexual abuse of children is not stopped or reported by household members, due to benefits derived by the household from the perpetrator.

Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (a.k.a. The Palermo Convention): UN-sponsored multilateral treaty adopted in 2000 contains the protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especial Women and Children. The convention and the protocol fall under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Debt bondage: Under the TVPA, debt bondage means the status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those of a person under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt or the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.

Demand-side approach to combatting sex trafficking: This approach focuses on targeting the demand side of sex trafficking by enhancing and encouraging enforcement of penalties against those who buy commercial sex.

Department of Health and Human Services—HHS Certification: Issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), certification allows adult victims of trafficking who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to be eligible to receive benefits and services under any federal or state program or activity to the same extent as a refugee. To receive certification, a person who is 18 years of age or older must be a victim of a severe form of trafficking; be willing to assist in every reasonable way in the investigation and prosecution of severe forms of trafficking or be unable to cooperate due to physical or psychological trauma; and have made a bona fide application for a T visa that has not been denied; or have received Continued Presence from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to contribute to the prosecution of traffickers in person. Foreign child victims of trafficking (under the age of 18) do not need to be certified to receive benefits and services.

Department of Justice Civil Rights Division: In addition to enforcing existing laws against trafficking, the Civil Rights Division is responsible for investigating cases of trafficking and prosecuting traffickers.

Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crimes (OVC): The Office provides funds to programs and organizations that assist victims of trafficking.

Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office): The Office, created by the TVPA of 2000, partners with foreign governments and civil society to develop and implement effective strategies for confronting modern-day slavery. The Office has responsibility for bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance, and public engagement on trafficking in persons.

Domestic trafficking: Refers to the trafficking of U.S. citizens within the United States. Most often seen in the sex trafficking of persons by a pimp.

Executive Order Strengthening Protections in Federal Contracts (2012): The Order prohibits federal contractors, subcontractors, and their employees from engaging in certain trafficking-related practices, such as conducting misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices; charging employees recruitment fees; and destroying or confiscating an employee’s identity documents, such as a passport or a driver’s license. It also requires that for work exceeding $500,000 that is performed abroad, federal contractors and subcontractors must maintain compliance plans appropriate for the nature and scope of the activities performed. Furthermore, it establishes a process to identify industries and sectors that have a history of human trafficking, to enhance compliance on domestic contracts and augment training and heighten agencies’ ability to detect and address trafficking violations.

Human smuggling: The facilitation, transportation, attempted transportation, or illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border, in violation of one or more countries’ laws, either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents.

Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking (PITF): The Task Force is a Cabinet-level entity created by the TVPA to coordinate federal efforts to combat trafficking in persons. The PITF meets annually and is chaired by the secretary of state.

Involuntary domestic servitude: A form of forced labor involving domestic workers in private residences. Such an environment, which often socially isolates domestic workers, is conducive to exploitation because authorities cannot inspect private property as easily as formal workplaces.

Involuntary servitude: Under the TVPA, involuntary servitude includes a condition of servitude induced by means of (A) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that, if the person did not enter into or continue in such condition, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint or (B) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.

Labor trafficking: Under the TVPA, labor trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery (22 U.S.C. § 7102).

The Mann Act (1910): The Federal Mann Act (enacted in 1910) makes it a felony to knowingly transport any person in interstate or foreign commerce for prostitution, or for any sexual activity for which a person can be charged with a criminal offense. A person also violates the Act if he persuades, induces, entices, or coerces an individual to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution or other immoral purposes, or attempts to do so.

Minor: Under the TVPA, a minor is any person under the age of 18.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC): The Center is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. It is operated by Polaris Project, a nongovernmental organization working to combat human trafficking. Callers can report tips and receive information on human trafficking by calling the hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The hotline also provides data on where cases of suspected human trafficking are occurring in the United States.

National Slavery and Human Protection Month: Established by a presidential proclamation declaring January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. January 12th already marks the National Global Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States.

The Organization of American States (OAS): Maintains an anti-trafficking section that works to aggregate national efforts, bilateral measures, and multilateral cooperation. The section provides information for training seminars, technical assistance to governments, exchange of information, and proposals.

Pimp: A person who controls and financially benefits from the commercial sexual exploitation of another person. The relationship can be abusive and possessive, with the pimp using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use, and the shame from these acts to keep the sexually exploited person under control.

The PROTECT Act (2003): The PROTECT Act was enacted in 2003 to combat the sexual exploitation of children. Among other things, the Act requires courts to impose mandatory sentences for sex offenders and makes it a crime to travel abroad to engage in sexual conduct with minors. The Act amends the criminal code to increase supervision of convicted sex offenders for specific felonies. Additionally, the Act creates minimum standards and grants for states to expand their Amber Alert system for missing children.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (also referred to as the “Trafficking Protocol”): The Protocol was adopted by the UN in 2000 and is an international legal agreement attached to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. The protocol sets out an agreed definition of trafficking in persons. The purpose of the Protocol is to facilitate convergence in national cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons and protect and assist the victims.

Sex industry: The sex industry consists of businesses that either directly or indirectly provide sex-related products and services or adult entertainment.

Sex tourism: The World Tourism Organisation, a specialized agency of the UN, defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination.”

Sex trafficking: Under the TVPA, sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (22 U.S.C. § 7102; 8 C.F.R. § 214.11(a)).

T visa: Created under the TVPA, the T visa gives temporary nonimmigrant status to victims of severe forms of trafficking on the condition that they help law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute crimes related to human trafficking. If the victim, however, is under 18 years of age, the law does not require cooperation with police. The applicant must show that he or she (A) is a victim of trafficking, (B) is in the United States without status due to trafficking, (C) complies with any reasonable request from a law enforcement agency for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking, and (D) would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the United States. T visas are also available for immediate family members including spouses, children, and parents of applicants under 18. Only 5,000 T visas may be issued every year.

Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report): Produced by the TIP Office, the Report tracks the anti-trafficking efforts of every foreign country. The U.S. government uses the TIP Report to engage foreign governments in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to target resources on prevention, protection, and prosecution programs. In the TIP Report, the Department of State places each country onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in § 108 of the TVPA.

Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA 2000): The TVPA was the first comprehensive federal law to address human trafficking. The law provided a three-pronged approach to combating human trafficking: prevention through public awareness programs and a monitoring and sanctions program led by the Department of State; protection through a visa and services for foreign national victims; and prosecution through new federal crimes. This legislation was reauthorized in 2003, 2005, and 2008.

U visa: The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa granting work eligibility to certain victims of crimes occurring in the United States. The applicant must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse due to certain criminal activities including trafficking, prostitution, sexual exploitation, rape, involuntary servitude, slave trade, or kidnapping. Victims must also be willing to work with local law enforcement and obtain certification by a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, such as a prosecutor or a federal or state judge in charge of the investigation in which the petitioner is the victim. Only 10,000 U visas may be issued every fiscal year. Family members, including spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, as well as stepparents and adoptive parents, may also be included on the petition.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): UN office that enforces the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (a.k.a. The Palermo Convention).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Processes both T and U visa applications.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): The agency is powered to investigate and apprehend traffickers. They also provide or assist victims with obtaining services.