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What is Human Trafficking?

The United States Department of State defines human trafficking as, “all criminal actions that reduce, hold, or compel someone into service."
Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.
Get Help: 24/7 Confidential - 1-888-373-7888 / Chat / Text 'HELP' to 233733 (BEFREE) / TTY: 711

Questions to Ask?

• Do you have your personal identification?
• Can you come and go as you please?
• Have you been hurt or threatened for trying to leave?
• Are you in debt to your employer?
• Can you leave your job if you want to?

General Indicators

People who have been trafficked may:

• Believe that they must work against their will
• Be unable to leave their work environment
• Show signs that their movements are being controlled
• Feel that they cannot leave
• Show fear or anxiety
• Be subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or against their family members and loved ones
• Suffer injuries that appear to be the result of an assault
• Suffer injuries or impairments typical of certain jobs or control measures
• Suffer injuries that appear to be the result of the application of control measures
• Be distrustful of the authorities
• Be threatened with being handed over to the authorities
• Be afraid of revealing their immigration status
• Not be in possession of their passports or other travel or identity documents, as those documents are being held by someone else
• Have false identity or travel documents
• Be found in or connected to a type of location likely to be used for exploiting people
• Act as if they were instructed by someone else
• Be unfamiliar with the local language
• Be disciplined through punishment
• Be unable to negotiate working conditions
• Receive little or no payment
• Have no access to their earnings
• Work excessively long hours over long periods
• Not have any days off
• Live in poor or substandard accommodations
• Have no access to medical care
• Have limited or no social interaction
• Have limited contact with their families or with people outside of their immediate environment
• Be unable to communicate freely with others
• Be under the perception that they are bonded by debt
• Be in a situation of dependence
• Come from a place known to be a source of human trafficking
• Have had the fees for their transport to the country of destination paid for by facilitators, whom they must payback by working or providing services in the destination
• Have acted on the basis of false promises
• Not know their home or work address
• Allow others to speak for them when addressed directly

Sex Trafficking Indicators

People who have been trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation may:
• Be of any age, although the age may vary according to the location and the market
• Move from one brothel to the next or work in various locations
• Be escorted whenever they go to and return from work and other outside activities
• Have tattoos or other marks indicating “ownership” by their exploiters
• Work long hours or have few if any days off
• Sleep where they work
• Live or travel in a group, sometimes with other women who do not speak the same language
• Have very few items of clothing
• Have clothes that are mostly the kind typically worn for doing sex work
• Only know how to say sex-related words in the local language or in the language of the client group
• Have no cash of their own
• Be unable to show an identity document

Labor Trafficking Indicators

People who have been trafficked for labor exploitation may:

• Live in groups in the same place where they work and leave those premises infrequently, if at all
• Live in degraded, unsuitable places, such as in agricultural or industrial buildings
• Not be dressed adequately for the work they do: for example, they may lack protective equipment or warm clothing
• Be given only leftovers to eat
• Have no access to their earnings
• Have no labor contract
• Work excessively long hours
• Depend on their employer for a number of services, including work, transportation and accommodation
• Have no choice of accommodation
• Never leave the work premises without their employer
• Be unable to move freely
• Be subject to security measures designed to keep them on the work premises
• Be disciplined through fines
• Be subjected to insults, abuse, threats or violence

**United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
For additional indicators of human trafficking please visit: