How does human trafficking occur?

Usually, a person is recruited, then they are isolated or transported, and ultimately they are forced to provide labour or a service.

  • Recruitment: Traffickers approach potential victims in many ways, including pretending to be a potential boyfriend or friend, contacting them via social media such as Facebook, posting newspaper or Internet ads for jobs and opportunities, or even threatening or kidnapping them. Often, promises will be made to the victims such as money, brand name clothes, work or education, financial aid for their family, etc.
  • Transportation/Isolation: Victims are often (but not always) moved around by traffickers, sometimes with the promise of a better life, to isolate them from family and/or people they know or areas that are familiar to them.
  • Exploitation: Exploitation is the key element of human trafficking offences within the Criminal Code of Canada. Exploitation occurs when someone forces another person to provide labour or a service by having them fear for their safety, or the safety of someone known to them.
  • Traffickers often use violence, intimidation and/or deception to make victims do as they say.

Why Does Human Trafficking Happen?  

  • The business of human trafficking is often characterized as a “low risk/high reward activity” because the crime is clandestine, therefore difficult to detect and investigate, which contributes to the relatively low prosecution rates worldwide. Victims can be exploited over and over for the financial or material benefit of the traffickers making this crime lucrative. The United Nations has estimated that this illegal activity generates approximately $32 billion (US) annually for its perpetrators.
  • If a human trafficker is in the company of the victim, it’s very hard to identify that the person needs help just by looking at them. Most of the evidence of the offence would come from the victim’s testimony; this can be very difficult to obtain if the victim, or someone known to them, have been threatened.
  • Victims don’t come forward to the police or organizations for help for a variety of reasons such as; not recognizing that they are a victim of human trafficking, lack of knowledge of their rights, lack of trust in police or other organizations to provide help, or threats made to the victim or towards people they know or are related to.
  • North American culture has put an emphasis on hypersexualization in TV ads and programs, the Internet and particularly in music lyrics and videos. It can be easy to be attracted to a pimp – often the victim doesn’t know the person is a pimp, and drawn towards their lifestyle as it looks glamorous and exciting.
  • Many traffickers prey on victims who are looking for the promise of a better life, a job opportunity or a romantic relationship.

For additional information please see Frequently Asked Questions on human trafficking at the following link:

What YOU can do:

Learn the warning signs of human trafficking and make sure those around you know them as well. It may simply take one person to report suspicious behaviour to uncover cases of human

Learn more about The Signs of Human Trafficking here.