Commonly Used Terms & Their Definitions

The topics of Human Trafficking, Migration, and Modern Slavery are not simple ones. They are serious subjects, involving complex definitions, many of which are commonly misused. Here are some common words and phrases along with their definitions.

  • Asylum Seeker: “A person who seeks safety from persecution or serious harm in a country other than his or her own and awaits a decision on the application for refugee status under relevant international and national instruments.
  • Automatic: “A term denoting the victim’s ‘automatic’ routine when her pimp is not in direct contact with those he is prostituting. Victims are expected to comply with the rules and often do so out of fear of punishment or because they have been psychologically manipulated into a sense of loyalty or love.
  • Bottom: “A female appointed by the trafficker/pimp to supervise the others and report rule violations.”
  • Branding: “A tattoo or carving on a victim that indicates ownership by a trafficker, pimp, or gang.”
  • Brothel/Cathouse/Whorehouse: “These establishments may be apartments, houses, trailers, or any facility where sex is sold on the premises.”
  • Caught A Case: “A term that refers to when a pimp or victim has been arrested and charged with a crime.”
  • Choosing Up: “The process by which a different pimp takes ‘ownership’ of a victim. According to traditional pimping rules, when a victim makes eye contact with another pimp (accidentally or on purpose), she is choosing him to be her pimp. If the original pimps wants the victim back, he must pay a fee to the new pimp. When this occurs, the victim is forced to work harder to replace the money lost.”
  • Circuit: “A series of cities among which prostituted people are moved.”
  • Circular Migration: “The fluid movement of people between countries, including temporary or long-term movement which can be beneficial to all involved if occurring voluntarily and linked to the labor needs of countries of origin and destination.”
  • Coercion: “Threats of serious harm or physical restraint. Any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person. The abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.”
  • Commercial Sex Act: “Any sexual act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.”
  • Date: “The exchange when prostitution takes place. A victim is said to be ‘with a date’ or ‘dating.'”
  • Debt Bondage: “The status or condition of a debtor arising from a pledge by the debtor of his or her personal services or of those under his or her control as a security for debt, if the value of those services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt of the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined.”
  • Displaced Persons: “A person forced to leave their home country due to war, persecution, or natural disaster; a refugee.”
  • Domestic Trafficking: “Refers to the trafficking of US citizens within the United States. Most often seen in the sex trafficking of persons by a pimp.”
  • Emigration: “The act of voluntarily departing or exiting from one country with a view of settling in another.”
  • Escort Service: “An organization, operating chiefly via cell phone and the internet, which send a victim to a buyer’s location (an “outcall”) or arranges for the buyer to come to a house or apartment (an “in-call”). Some network with others and can assemble large numbers of women for parties.”
  • Exit Fee: “The money a pimp will demand from a victim who is trying to leave. It will be an exorbitant sum as most pimps do not let their victims leave freely.”
  • Facilitated Migration: “Fostering or encouraging of regular migration by making travel easier and more convenient.”
  • Family: “Term used to describe other individuals under the control of the same pimp.”
  • Forced Migration: “A migratory movement in which an element of coercion exists, including threats to life and livelihood, whether arising from natural or man-made causes.”
  • Freedom of Movement: “A human right comprised of three basic elements: freedom of movement within the territory of a country, the right to leave any country, and the right to return to his or her own country.”
  • Human Trafficking: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, haboring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of deception, of the abuse of power, or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving and receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” (The United Nations)
  • Internally Displaced Persons (IDP): “Persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obligated to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or national or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border.”
  • International Minimum Standards: “The doctrine under which non-nationals benefit from a group of rights directly determined by public international law, independently  of rights internally determined by the State in which the non-national finds him or herself. A State is required to observe minimum standards set by international law with respect to treatment of non-nationals.”
  • Irregular Migration: “Movement that takes place outside of the regulatory norms of the sending, transit, and receiving countries.”
  • Kiddie Stroll: “An area known for prostitution featuring younger victims.”
  • Labor Trafficking: “The recruitment, haboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”
  • Lot Lizard: “Derogatory term for a person who is prostituted at truck stops.”
  • Migrant: “Any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or away from his or her habitual place of residence, regardless of the person’s legal status, whether the movement is voluntary or involuntary, what the causes for the movement are, or what the length of the stay is.”
  • Migration: “The movement of a person or a group of persons, either across an international border or nationally. It is a popular movement, encompassing any kind of movement of people, whatever its length, composition and causes. It includes refugees, displaced persons, economic migrants, and persons moving for other purposes.”
  • Naturalization: “Granting by a State of its nationality to a non-national through a formal act on the application of the individual concerned.”
  • Pimp: A person who controls and financially benefits from the commercial sexual exploitation of another person. Often abusive and possessive, with the pimp using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use, and the shame from these acts to keep the victim under control.
  • Refugee: “A person who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinions, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the persecution of that country.’ Any person compelled to leave his or her country ‘owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination, or events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country.'”
  • Repatriation: “The personal right of a refugee, prisoner of war, or a civil detainee to return to his or her country of nationality under specific conditions laid down in various international instruments.”
  • Resettlement: “The relocation and integration of people into another geographical area and environment.”
  • Sex Tourism: “Trips organized with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination.”
  • Sex Trafficking: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion or in which the person induced to perform is under 18 years of age.”
  • Smuggling: “The procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or permanent resident.”
  • Stateless Person: “A person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its laws.”
  • Trade Up/Trade Down: “To move a victim like merchandise between pimps.”
  • Turn Out: “To be forced into prostitution.”
  • Xenophobia: “Described as attitudes, prejudices, and behavior that reject, exclude, and often vilify persons, based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners to the community, society, or national identity. Often hard to differentiate from racism.”

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