Slavery is an ancient trade. One of the first documented slaves in history was Joseph – we first hear about him in the Old Testament book of Genesis when his brothers sold him. In more recent centuries we tend to relate the term slavery to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

2013 marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation freed slaves in 10 states. A few years later in 1865, slavery was officially made illegal in the U.S.A. But making something illegal doesn’t mean it ceases to exist.

Slavery continues to be a reality in the U.S.A. today. It’s a crime hidden in plain sight and it’s growing. Slavery may look differently over time, but it’s just as inhumane.

The main forms of slavery that exist in the U.S.A., including Michigan, are sex slavery and labor trafficking.

Often we hear the term “human trafficking” used to refer to this crime. But we prefer to call it what it is: slavery. The term slavery is most widely used when referring to any form of modern slavery, bondage, or human trafficking. Slavery means that a person is being held against his or her will and controlled physically or psychologically by violence or its threat for the purpose of appropriating their labor. Forms of slavery include, sex slavery, sexual exploitation, forced labor, bonded labor, child soldiers, and organ trafficking.

U.S.A. State Department Definition of Trafficking in Persons
The TVPA defines “severe forms of trafficking” as:a. sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or,b. 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.A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order for the crime to fall within these definitions. Learn more via the 2014 TIP Report.

UNODC Definition of Trafficking in Persons
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring 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. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.