Maryland: A Hot Spot for Human Trafficking
May 22, 2017
According to the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force (MHTTF) website, Maryland is “uniquely situated” to be a center for human trafficking. Between the major cities of Philadelphia and Washington D.C., Baltimore specifically can produce high numbers for victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking is defined as “modern slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act”, as reported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Human trafficking has plagued the U.S. for decades, but recently there has been a noticeable spike in the Maryland and D.C. area.
There are two main types of human trafficking, sex trafficking and labor trafficking. As defined by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, sex trafficking is the act of “recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of an individual through the means of force, fraud, and coercion for the purpose of commercial sex.” From 2007 to 2016, there have been a suspected 22,191 cases of sex trafficking in the United States (National Human Trafficking Hotline). Labor trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery,” by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
The recent spike of human trafficking in the United States is often tied to a spike in missing persons reports filed. There are 25 cases of missing children still open in the state of Maryland within the last two years, as reported by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Of these 25 cases, 12 of the reported victims are young teenage girls. This is troubling, as young and adult women are targeted and often become victims of sex trafficking. However, there is no specific profile for a victim of trafficking. Victims come in a range of ages, genders, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses.
Human trafficking is continuing to become a major problem in our country. Maryland residents are at an increased risk due to Maryland’s location between the two major cities of Philadelphia and Washington D.C. For more information on human trafficking, visit the website for the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.