Movement: The Difference between Human Trafficking and Forced Labor

It will be clear from the example given above that “movement” is at the heart of trafficking, because it is the means by which traffickers isolate victims from the environment in which they are safe and can seek help.

There is no defined extent of the movement; the essential point is that the victim is moved. Traffickers may move their victims within the country, for example, from rural area to city, from city to coastal resort, from periurban settlements to farms. When trafficking does not cross national borders, it is called “domestic” trafficking and, despite what common wisdom often suggests, it is known that most of the trafficking in the world is domestic.

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Traffickers who move their victims to another country are guilty of “cross-border” trafficking. They may move people on foot, by road, by sea, or by air. Often these journeys are hazardous, involving, for example, dangerous mountain routes, leaky boats or modified vehicles in which victims are hidden. Sometimes, people are moved in regular transport, on scheduled flights, in buses or taxis. In such cases, traffickers may provide forged documents to fool border authorities, or corrupt border or immigration officers might be working with the traffickers.