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Mythbusting Human Trafficking: Facts and MisconceptionsSex trafficking is a widespread problem, both within South Carolina and throughout the United States. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, but certain people are more vulnerable to trafficking than others. Unfortunately, human trafficking is often misrepresented in the media or films and television, which leads to public confusion about what is and what is not true about this crisis.

The Washington Post recently published an article about some of the top misconceptions about human trafficking, and today we’re going to clear up some of the most common myths and misunderstandings.

Myth 1: Victims are only trafficked by strangers

Although most people believe trafficking victims are usually snatched off the street by a stranger, studies show that in over 60 percent of cases, the victim is familiar with their trafficker. Often this is a family member or other person with a close connection to the victim. This connection makes it easier to coerce the victim into forced labor or sex.

Myth 2: Trafficking only happens in developing countries

Human and sex trafficking happens in just about every country in the world. And it happens in the United States every day. In 2019, every state in the country reported some instance of trafficking. Per the Post, “The U.S.-based trafficking hotline reported being contacted by 22,326 trafficking victims and survivors in 2019; of those, 14,597 people were sex trafficked and 4,934 were victims of labor trafficking.”

Myth 3: Trafficking increases during sports events

This is a very popular media story that goes around during major sporting events, like the Superbowl. According to the Post, “Researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Minnesota identified 111 print media articles published between 2009 and 2016 that used the words ‘Super Bowl,’ ‘sex trafficking’ and ‘prostitution.’” However, they have been unable to make a hard connection between the two.

One thing the Post did point out, though, was that labor trafficking does seem to uptick before major sporting events. Amnesty International reported on exploitation of South Asian workers during the leadup to the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Myth 4: Cartels and organized crime are responsible for trafficking

As we talked about earlier, the majority of trafficking victims know their trafficker. And, although gangs and cartels may be common at the border, traffickers can also include family members, neighbors, and in worst cases, the government. The Post mentions China’s Xinjiang region: “Since 2017, more than 1 million Uighurs have been detained in ‘reeducation’ camps for weeks or years, and many are forced to work in factories that provide goods to Western consumers.”

Myth 5: Human trafficking involves moving or traveling across borders

Human and sex trafficking is often confused with human smuggling, which involves illegal border crossings. Human trafficking does not require any movement – a victim can be trafficked in their hometown or even in their own home. Says the Post, “The misconception that human trafficking requires the moving of victims across borders is particularly dangerous during this pandemic, given that the opportunities for exploitation have expanded.”

The attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC fight for survivors of human trafficking. If you or a loved one need help, please contact us as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with one of our South Carolina attorneys, call 803-327-7800, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.

If you do not feel comfortable calling us, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (toll-free).