English / Español


Posts from CATW


Papers, Research and Other Information


News Coverage and Releases

Understanding Human Trafficking

"[E]ffective action to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, requires a comprehensive international approach ..." – UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol

Tweet This

People often don’t know what human trafficking really is, leading to many myths and misconceptions about this human rights violation. The Protocol to Prevent Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (also known as the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol or Palermo Protocol), ratified by 173 countries, establishes the internationally accepted definition of the crime. It defines human trafficking in three parts:

An ACT carried out through a MEANS for a PURPOSE.

The ACT — transportation, harbor, transfer or recruitment of a person

The MEANS — the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits

The PURPOSE — exploitation.


  • exploitation of the prostitution of others and other forms of sexual exploitation
  • forced labor or services;
  • slavery, practices similar to slavery and servitude;
  • the removal of organs.

When someone under the age of 18, defined as a child under international law, is recruited, transported, transferred, harbored or received for the purpose of any of these forms of exploitation, that child is a trafficking victim, even if none of the means described in the Protocol are involved.

Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, slavery and organ trafficking are four very different forms of human trafficking that require distinct solutions, but are all equally important to combat.


  • © 2024 Coalition Against Trafficking Women
  • PO Box 7160, JAF Station, New York, NY 10116 USA
  • 212.643.9895
Charity Navigator