6 Human Trafficking Terms You Should Know

One of the first steps you can make toward combating human trafficking is having a clear definition of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) terminology.

1 . Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking
Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) is a form of Human Trafficking involving minors. Specifically, it is the sexual exploitation of an individual minor (under 18 years of age) for commercial financial gain or in exchange for anything of value (such as drugs, food or housing) within the domestic United States. DMST includes physical abuse, pornography, prostitution, erotic type entertainment, stripping and the smuggling of individuals. The exchange of something of value be it monetary or other, is what distinguishes DMST from other forms of child abuse.

2 . Human Trafficking
The most widely-accepted formal definition is from the United Nations’ Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons which defines Human Trafficking as: ”The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” [1]

Put simply, it is modern day slavery. People are trafficked for the purpose of forced labor, sexual exploitation and even organ harvesting.

3. Forced Labor/Labor Trafficking
A form of Human Trafficking in which victims are held by force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of labor. Today forced labor victims are typically used in agriculture, mining, factory work and domestic servitude.

4. Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE) or Sex Trafficking
A form of Human Trafficking that involves the sexual exploitation of an individual for commercial/financial gain or in exchange for something of value. It includes physical abuse, pornography, prostitution, erotic type entertainment, stripping and the smuggling of individuals for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This term makes no distinction to the age or nationality of the individual. It can be anyone, anywhere. Commercial Sexual Exploitation is defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, (reauthorized in 2008), as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” [2]

5. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of a Child (CSEC)
CSEC carries the same definition as DMST, however it carries no distinction to nationality. It could be any child anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world.

6. Forced Prostitution/Prostitution
Prostitution is overwhelmingly not an individual’s “choice” and as a result is greatly misunderstood. It is never the choice of a mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy person. Studies have shown that when presented with another option a person would almost without exception choose an alternative to prostitution. Other research of prostituted personsreveals that nearly all want to escape that life but, may not know how or have any other choices.

A person can be physically forced into prostitution, tricked or coerced, or feel that they simply have no other options either through circumstances of limited opportunities or through a lifetime of systematic abuse and trauma. Making a distinction between Sex Trafficking, “Forced Prostitution” and “Prostitution” is a stumbling block to really solving this problem. As stated by a well-known expert in prostitution research “Prostitution and sex trafficking are the same human rights catastrophe.” [3]


UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Article 3 paragraph (a) p42. Retrieved from: http://www.unodc.org
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-386, division A, 103(8), (9) 114 Stat. 1464; codified as amended as 22 USCS 7102(8) [Title 22. Foreign Relations and Intercourse; Chapter 78 Trafficking Victims Protection]
Leidholt, D.A. (2003). Demand and the Debate. Retrieved from: http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/Leidholdt%20Demand%20and%20Debate.pdf
United Nations International Labor Organization. (2012). Summary of the UN ILO 2012 Global Estimate of Forced Labor. Retrieved from >
United States Dept of Justice
US Dept of State
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Smith, L., Vardman, S., Snow, M. (2009). Shared Hope International. The National Report on DMST; Americas Prostituted Children. .
Farley, M. (2011) “Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex” You can have a good time without the servitude vs. you’re supporting a system of degradation.
Roe-Sepowitz, D., Hickle, K., Gallagher, J., Smith, J., Hedberg, E., (2013). Invisible Offenders: A Study Estimating Online Sex Customers. ASU School of Social Work, Office of Sex Trafficking Research. Retrieved from http;//copp.asu.edu/college-news/research-docs/invisible-offenders-a-study-estimating-online sex-customers
Statistics from WPD Press Briefing on September 21, 2011. Cpt. Michael B. Allred WPD
Covenant Eyes. (2014) Pornography Statistics; 250+ facts, quotes, and statistics about pornography use. (p8) (p11-12)
WHISPER (Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution Engaged in Revolt) National Task Force
 Farley, M. (2004). Prostitution is Sexual Violence. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from http:// www.psychiatrictimes.com/sexual-offenses/content/article/10168/48311
Seattle: Northwest Resource Associate. (1993). Survival Sex in King County: Report Submitted to King County Women’s’ Advisory Board
Shared Hope Int’l >
Shared Hope International. Retrieved from >
FBI. Retrieved from >