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Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery.

Current Advocacy Efforts

The Rhode Island Commission on Women is working in full partnership with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RICAHT) for the passage of stronger anti-trafficking legislation here in Rhode Island. YOU CAN HELP!

Support and advocate for the passage of House Bill 5661 and Senate Bill 0605 by:

  • Educating yourself about the issue. See "What is Human Trafficking?" below.
  • Emailing a letter of support for House Bill 5661 to the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Donald J. Lally, Jr..
  • Emailing a letter of support for Senate Bill 0605 to the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Michael J. McCaffrey.
  • Contacting your local legislators. Not sure who they are? To find out, visit the Secretary of State's Voter Information Center. To find their contact information, visit the General Assembly's website, click on the link to representatives and senators, and find their name in the drop down box. Not sure how to write the letter? Please click HEREPDF
  • Getting involved with the RI Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RICAHT). For more information, contact RICAHT

What is Human Trafficking?

  • Human trafficking ia a form of modern-day slavery.
  • It Involves the exploitation of persons for involuntary commercial sex acts or forced labor, plus the inability to extricate oneself from that situation.
  • It often involves crossing an international border but does not require moving a victim.
  • Human Trafficking is a market-based economy that exists on the principal of supply and demand.
  • Human Trafficking thrives in conditions where high profits can be generated with low risk.
  • It is NOT smuggling or forced movement.
  • It does NOT require transportation or border crossing.
  • Human Trafficking does NOT only happen to immigrants and foreign nationals.
  • It does NOT require physical force, physical abuse or physical restraint.
  • The consent of the victim is considered irrelevant, as is payment.

The U.S. definition of a trafficked person is:
  • A minor (under age 18) involved in commercial sex, or
  • Those age 18 or older involved in commercial sex via force, fraud or coercion, or
  • Children and adults forced to perform labor and/or services in conditions of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery, via force, fraud or coercion.

What is Labor Trafficking?
  • Using 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. Victims can be found in domestic situations as nannies or maids, sweatshop factories, janitorial jobs, construction sites, farm work, restaurants, or panhandling.

What is Sex Trafficking?
  • Involuntary Commercial Sex Act induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person performing the act is under age 18. Victims can be found working in massage parlors, brothels, strip clubs, or escort services.

Human Trafficking is Big Business!
  • It yields an estimated $32 billion in profits each year.
  • After drug trafficking, human trafficking is believed to be the most lucrative business for organized crime.
  • Unlike drugs and arms traffickers, human traffickers can continue to exploit their victims after the initial point of sale.
  • Human Traffciking is becoming a preferred business for criminal syndicates around the world.

How Traffickers Control Victims:
  • Beatings, burnings, rapes, and starvation
  • Isolation
  • Psychological abuses
  • Drug or alcohol dependency
  • Document withholding
  • Debt bondage
  • Threats of deportation
  • Threats against the victim’s family or friends in his/her home country

Who are Victims of Human Trafficking? (Worldwide)
  • Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders worldwide.
  • 70% of female victims are trafficked into the commercial sex trade industry.
  • 50% of trans-national victims are children.
  • 161 countries are identified as affected by Human Trafficking: 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries, 137 destination countries.

Who are Victims of Human Trafficking? (United States)
  • 14,500-17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked in the U.S. every year.
  • In the year 2000, 244,000 American children and youth were estimated to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation.
  • 70% of trafficked individuals are female.

Scope of the Problem in Rhode Island
  • Estimated 30 suspected & alleged sex trafficking brothels
  • Estimated that about 10 women per brothel service 10 johns a day (3,000 non-reported sexual assaults daily, 1,095,000 yearly)
  • Suspected brothels are in Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Middletown, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence and Warwick.

Legal Responses to Trafficking - FEDERAL
  • The William Wilburforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008
  • Reauthorizes funding for 2008 – 2011.
  • Amends TVPRA 2000 and 2005.
  • Addresses both international and domestic trafficking.
  • Strengthens role and authority of the Trafficking in Persons Office.
  • Enhances tools available for criminal prosecution of domestic traffickers.
  • Increases protections to U.S. victims and vulnerable-to-trafficking unaccompanied foreign national children brought to the U.S.
  • Previously: (a) Required proof that defendant had knowledge of minor victim’s age, (b) required proof of force, fraud or coercion of trafficked minors and (c) proof of force, fraud or coercion is viewed from a “reasonable person’s” standard.
  • Now: (a) No such proof required for any defendant who had "reasonable opportunity to observe", (b) no requirement of force, fraud or coercion of trafficked minors,and (c) Proof of force, fraud or coercion is gauged through victim’s particular circumstances.

Legal Responses to Trafficking - STATE
  • R.I.G.L. 11-67 – Trafficking in Persons and Involuntary Servitude passed last legislative session.
  • No cases prosecuted to-date.
  • Current law requires proof of force, fraud and coercion to punish sex trafficking of a minor.

RICAHT's Response
  • House Bill 5661/Senate Bill 0605
  • RICAHT has worked with bill sponsors Representative Joanne M. Giannini (District 7, Providence) and Senator Rhoda E. Perry (District 3, Providence) on crafting the legislation.
  • The bills follow the Federal model in removing proof of "Force, Fraud and Coercion" from minor sex trafficking.
  • Enhances the definition of commercial sex trafficking to include any location.
  • Ensures stronger penalties for pimps and johns while creating options for services and treatment for victims.
  • Creates law enforcement protocols to ensure prostitution related offenses are viewed through trafficking lens.

Educate yourself further!