The illegal exploitation of someone for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual actsThe illegal exploitation of someone for the purposes of commercial sexual actsThe movement of people across country borders for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation
The National Human Trafficking Hotline defines human trafficking as “a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.”
6.8 million10.3 million20.9 million30.2 million
The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally - that corresponds to about 3 out of every 1,000 people. This estimation is from 2012, so it has likely increased since then as methods for how to estimate victim numbers improves.
The trafficker must induce, recruit, harbor, transport, or obtain the victimThere must be an element of force, fraud, or coercionThe victim must be involved in commercial sex acts, i.e. "working"All are required to be considered sex trafficking of minors
Under U.S. federal law, any minor under 18 induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.
Residential brothelsStreet-basedCommercial front brothels
Commercial front brothels are the most common sex trafficking venues. These mostly include fake massage businesses that pretend to offer spa services but actually harbor sex trafficking victims for prostitution.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 5,748 cases in 2016 and 1,828 of them involved minors -- which is 31.8%.
According to 2013 data, of confirmed sex trafficking victims whose race was known, 26% were white, 40% were black, 4% were Asian, and 24% were Hispanic. The surprising disparity is that African-Americans make up 13.1% of the total population in the U.S., proving that they are certainly at a higher risk than white women and men.
Traffickers are savvy businessmen (or women) who want to keep victims that are more marketable and desirable for their customers. African-Americans are seen as more exotic and garner a higher demand, and in a recent Urban Institute study of traffickers, a majority thought trafficking black women would land them less time in jail if they were caught.
According to a report by the Polaris Project, Thousands of women and girls from Latin America are forced into underground sex economies in bars and cantina-type establishments across the U.S. Often underage, lacking legal immigration documents, limited knowledge of English, or facing threats, these victims of sex trafficking are trapped in terribly manipulative and violent situations.
According to the Global Slavery Index, India has 18.4 million victims of human trafficking, China has 3.4 million, Pakistan has 2.1 million, and Bangladesh has 1.5 million.
Awareness is key.
If you or someone you know are being trafficked, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Or text HELP to 233733.
The most important step in ending human trafficking is raising awareness and recognizing potential red flags. Please visit the Polaris Project for more information regarding warning signs of victims of human trafficking.