Trafficking, despite the implications of the word, does not have to involve large groups of people or movement across borders, like smuggling. Trafficking is often a crime against an individual, and involves commercial sex acts or labor or services that are induced through force, fraud, or coercion, according to the Polaris Project, which operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline and pushes for stronger state and federal anti-trafficking laws.
Victims come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and can range from illegal immigrants held in financial bondage in the U.S. until they pay off their passage, to American teenagers born and raised in the suburbs and coerced into prostitution.
James Dold, policy counsel for Polaris, said Friday's events were intended to raise awareness of the issue nationwide, and of the need for more victim-centered legislation, such as bills vacating the criminal convictions of trafficking survivors.
"We need victims to go from being survivors to being thrivers in a community," he said.
Henry reported from Newark, N.J. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SamanthaHenry
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