When we talk about the issue of human trafficking we all visualize a person in our minds. Honestly in my mind the perpetrator is always faceless, not because I don’t know who is doing the trafficking, but because it really could be anyone. That’s not to say that there aren’t certain popular characteristics, but a trafficker is more than the person who imprisons another. Many people play many different roles in human trafficking, and they too are traffickers.
According to the NHTRC, human traffickers are people who “lure and ensnare people into forced labor and sex trafficking by manipulating and exploiting their vulnerabilities.” They are people who target those who are in need in many diverse ways such as, lacking employment, searching for a better life, longing for a stable situation, and more. “Traffickers can be foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, males and females, family members, intimate partners, acquaintances, and strangers.” (NHTRC) They do not solely represent one face. Furthermore, “A wide range of criminals, including individual pimps, family operations, small businesses, loose-knit decentralized criminal networks, and international organized criminal operations, can be human traffickers.” (NHTRC). It’s apparent that there aren’t a particular grouping of people who are doing the trafficking.
There are also two different roles to be played in human trafficking. It can’t be only one person who is carry all of this out. As stated by Human Rights First, there are two different and distinct roles in human trafficking; one being the exploiter and the other the enabler. “The exploiters of human trafficking include a wide range of criminals and criminal enterprises that organize, implement, and profit from trafficking human beings.” They further this concept by placing the traffickers into three different categories: Recruitment/Abduction, Transfer/Transportation, and lastly Exploitation.
The first type of exploiter/trafficker is one who recruits or abducts victims by means of fraud, coercion, or force. They promise a better life and “greater” opportunities for their future. The second is a person who transports a person to their place of exploitation. People can be trafficked by land, sea, or air, on boats, trucks, and animals, and in all types of ways. Although transportation can be seen in many trafficking cases, it’s important to remember that someone can be trafficked without ever leaving their home. The last category refers to the person whom actually exploits the victim. Exploitation can occur in a variety of places as long as there is a demand for commercial sex, or free labor; “victims are often exploited in the agricultural industry, private households, beauty parlors, nail salons, cleaning companies, restaurants, and beyond.” (Human Rights First)
All of these sections are a very precise representation of a human trafficker, however there is another very important role that is played in every human trafficking instance. And that is the enabler. “Enablers are the entities and individuals who knowingly or unknowingly provide goods and services – some of them through criminal activities – so that trafficking can take place.” They are “actors in the transportation, hospitality, advertising, and financial sectors whose services are often used by perpetrators.” (Human Rights First) These people who are consciously aware or completely oblivious of what they are partaking in, ultimately are the people who drive human trafficking. Without these people trafficking wouldn’t be able to exist. “Traffickers often rely on enablers in order to conduct their business…because they…provide goods and services to exploiters, which make human trafficking possible and profitable.” (Human Rights First)
The evidence above points us to the facts. The facts of who the traffickers really are. Who the faceless person is. Although they can’t be pointed out in a crowd, they can be identified. Although a faceless person lacks the commercial form of identification, they are still visible and they still exist. Now that we know who the traffickers are we can stop asking the question and start fighting the problem.