Human Trafficking Facts

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery, a concept most of us associate with a distant past, but which is actually the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. The problem is urgent: there are more people enslaved now than at any other point in history. An estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage, generating up to $150 billion in profit for traffickers.

The United Nations defines human trafficking with three key elements:

THE ACT (What is done) Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person.

THE MEANS (How it is done) Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments of benefits to a person in control of the victim.

THE PURPOSE (Why it is done) For the purpose of exploitation, which includes sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery or similar practices.

Fast Facts:

Victims can be forced into a wide variety of positions, ranging from forced commercial sexual exploitation to sweatshop and agricultural labor. They can be domestic servants, nannies, manicurists, or restaurant and hotel workers.

Human trafficking is not a problem exclusive to adults, almost a third of victims are children:

  • In the United States alone, roughly 200,000 children are at high risk for sex trafficking each year.
  • The average age of entry into sex trafficking in the US is 13. In many other countries around the world, it’s even younger.

→ Money can be an easy lure: parents may sell their children to provide funds for the family. Adults may be deceived with the promise of a stable job.

Both women and men can be victims of trafficking.

Labor trafficking accounts for roughly 62% of the estimated 40.3 million trafficking victims in the world. Sex trafficking and forced marriage accounts for the other 38%.

  • Technology has made the buying and selling of persons even easier. Pimps and other traffickers post ads on sites like Craigslist and Backpage.

Spot the Signs of Human Trafficking

Please note that statistics provided in this article are estimated numbers from the cited agencies. Obtaining concrete statistics on human trafficking activity is extremely difficult and accurate information is often unavailable.

Sources include:

  • The US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP)
  • Hofstra University-LifeWay Network Human Trafficking Report
  • Polaris
  • International Labour Organization