In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Victims of Human Trafficking

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Social Work Victims of Human Trafficking
Rowena Fong
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 May 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0093


Human trafficking has become a growing problem at both the international level and the domestic level in the United States. Trafficking is a form of human slavery, manifested largely through the sex industry but also in labor. International concerns cover sex and labor slavery, as well as organ and adoption trafficking. Domestic concerns about human trafficking have focused on the prostitution of young women or children, primarily by pimps and rings of traffickers. Child sex tourism is a national as well as international problem. Concerns about mental health and public health, as well as policies, legal procedures, and law enforcement issues, are covered.

General Overviews

Väyrynen 2003 includes definitions of terms related to trafficking, smuggling, and illegal immigration. Reasons for, and the social and psychological impacts of, trafficking are discussed in Jones, et al. 2007. Both Bertone 2004 and Lowe 2007 cover trafficking legislation and the history of trafficking, with a specific focus on sex and labor trafficking. Nonprofit organizations and funding resources for human service programs are presented on the Polaris Projectand US Department of State websites.

  • Bertone, Andrea M. 2004. Transnational activism to combat trafficking in persons. Brown Journal of World Affairs 10.2: 9–22.

    Gives a very brief overview of the history of sex and labor trafficking, and of the efforts of large multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations, to confront the issue during the 20th century. Provides a contemporary view and criticism of governmental and nongovernmental organizations’ attempts to address trafficking through policies and programs. Would be most helpful to policy practitioners and program planners.

  • Jones, L., D. W. Engstrom, T. Hilliard, and M. Diaz. 2007. Globalization and human trafficking. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 34.2: 107–122.

    Provides general background information about trafficking and examines the definition of human trafficking and its complexities. Also examines the reasons trafficking occurs and trafficking’s social and psychological impacts. The authors conclude by evaluating multilateral responses to trafficking as well as implications for social work as a profession.

  • Lowe, Allison H. 2007. Human trafficking: A global problem with solutions that begin at home. Praxis 7: 50–57.

    Discusses the history of human trafficking and current antitrafficking legislation, outlines the challenges facing those who work to fight human trafficking and advocate for victims, and provides suggestions on how to end trafficking in persons.

  • Polaris Project.

    The Polaris Project is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to combat human trafficking in the United States and around the world. The site provides general information about human trafficking, as well as ways to get involved in the fight and links to other resources on the topic.

  • US Department of State. . Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

    Dedicated to the topic of human trafficking, this site contains reports, tools, and links of interest regarding trafficking in the United States and internationally. Also includes information regarding funding available for human service agencies delivering human trafficking services. In addition, provides information on programs funded by the Department of State that directly address trafficking.

  • Väyrynen, Raimo. 2003. Illegal immigration, human trafficking, and organized crime. Helsinki: World Institute for Development Economics Research.

    Describes the difference between trafficking, smuggling, and illegal immigration, and highlights this distinction and the very different implications of each practice, legally and politically. The causes of the increase in migration, in its various forms, are discussed, as is the profitability of these illegal enterprises and the immigration and border-crossing policy that allows this crime to flourish.

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