FAQs About Trafficking

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the exploitation of people for labor and for sex. LFI’s work involves people who may be victims of sex trafficking.

  • Labor trafficking: Forced labor, such as being forced to work as a house maid or in a restaurant with little or no pay.
  • Sex trafficking: Any work in the sex industry with little or no pay or that is against a person’s will. This can include prostitution, pornography, strip clubs, and other areas of the sex industry.

Where does human trafficking occur?

Human trafficking occurs in all parts of the world. Areas that are known for sex trafficking include Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Labor trafficking is highly prevalent in poorer areas such as India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the United States, people are trafficked from other countries into the U.S. for sex work and labor, but there are also domestic victims of trafficking. Large cities with international airports such as Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta experience higher rates of trafficking, but it also occurs in small towns and rural areas.

Does human trafficking only occur in illegal underground industries?

While human trafficking does occur in illegal and underground markets, it can also occur in legal and legitimate settings. For example, common locations of human trafficking include private homes, hotels, nail salons, restaurants, bars, strip clubs, and massage businesses.

What are some factors that make people vulnerable to being trafficked?

While poverty is not the only factor, people can be vulnerable because of desperation for income or a job. Disaster situations, personal crises, and civil unrest can leave people vulnerable to trafficking. Other factors that increase vulnerability can include a history of abuse or neglect, alcohol or drug addiction, homelessness, or lack of legal documentation. Certain population groups are also especially vulnerable, including children, women, and migrant populations.

Are all victims of human trafficking poor?

No. Human trafficking victims can come from a range of backgrounds and some may come from middle and upper class families. Poverty is one of many factors that make individuals vulnerable to exploitation.

What methods do traffickers use to control victims?

  • Force: Beating and slapping, sexual assault, confinement and physical restraint
  • Fraud: False promises, deceitfully affectionate behavior, lies about working conditions
  • Coercion: Threats of serious harm or restraint, threats of being deported, intimidation and humiliation, emotional abuse, isolation, creating dependency and fear of independence

What does sex trafficking look like in Costa Rica?

Prostitution over the age of 18 is legal in Costa Rica. Because of this, the sex industry thrives in the cities and tourist areas of the country. People from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries have been identified in Costa Rica as victims of sex trafficking. Child sex tourism and sex trafficking is particularly prevalent in the provinces of Guanacaste, Limón, Puntarenas, and San Jose.

Are prostitution and sex trafficking the same thing?

No. Forced prostitution is a form of sex trafficking, but prostitution is also a choice of employment for some men and women. People who choose prostitution as a form of income may say that they enjoy their work and freely choose to participate in it.

Is there a connection between pornography and sex trafficking?

Yes. Pornography creates a psychological addiction that gives viewers unrealistic expectations about sex and leaves them desiring more. Over time, desensitization to soft core pornography leads to a desire for hard core or fetish pornography. As these acts lose their shock value, viewers of pornography may have an increased tendency to act out behaviors that they see. This can result in a demand for younger prostitutes, more dangerous activities, and thus higher demand for trafficking victims.

Who are the typical clients for people who work in prostitution?

Clients of prostitution can be locals as well as tourists. While sex tourism is a large source of demand for prostitution in some areas, locals are also part of the clientele.

What are governing authorities around the world doing to combat trafficking?

Within the past two decades, governments have started to create and implement laws that prohibit all forms of trafficking. While some countries still need to strengthen these laws, the UN and the United States continue to put pressure on governments to enforce laws against trafficking. There are also many international non-governmental organizations that are working to promote awareness and put an end to trafficking.

FAQs About LFI

What is LFI's vision?

Our vision at LightForce International is to prevent and eradicate enslavement and exploitation of men, women, and children in the commercial sex industry.

What does LFI do?

  • Prevention. LFI engages with children and youth at risk for entering lives of prostitution, drugs, and domestic violence. Our prevention programs empower children to raise their voice against abuse.
  • Intervention. Through our intervention programs, LFI personally connects with individuals in order to provide them the tangible resources they need to break free from a life of prostitution. In order to break social barriers and build trust with each individual they encounter, LFI walks the streets by night to establish friendships with the people who work there. Working within at-risk communities gives LFI the opportunity to work alongside other local ministries, churches, and service organizations in order to provide an alternative social outlet for youth in the area.
  • Restoration. The LFI staff creates a plan of action with each individual as they transition out of the sex industry in order to set a foundation for their new life. We walk alongside them as a team to help them find alternative work, learn life skills and be integrated into a safe and encouraging community.

How did LFI begin?

 LFI developed when our founder, Anna Carroll, made a trip to the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. She learned about the issue of child prostitution that permeated the area because of the amount of travelers. After returning to the United States, Anna founded LightForce International through her local church, which has since developed into it’s own non-profit organization. During our first few years, LFI developed programs and networked with multiple communities to bring awareness and establish a strong foundation in Costa Rica. Today, LFI has several offices in where we continue programs and build resources to fulfill our vision.

Where does LFI work?

 Our U.S. headquarters is located in Lexington, Kentucky, however most of our international field work is based out of San Jose, Costa Rica. We also partner with Beloved in Atlanta, Georgia.

How is LFI funded?

 We are a donor-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. This means that 100% of our expenses are funded by private and personal donations. In order to maintain fiscal responsibility, we outsource our bookkeeping.

How do I get involved?

Before taking action, get educated on the issue of modern-day slavery and how it affects you. Then share this awareness with others. Here are some practical ways you can partner with LFI:

  • Plan an Event to raise awareness or fundraise for LightForce
  • Volunteer to Serve alongside our team in the U.S. or Costa Rica
  • Apply for an internship
  • Give a Donation to support our ministries
  • Provide a tangible need to support our ministries.