What Is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is modern day slavery and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. It is the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or taking of persons by means of threat, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, or deception for the purpose of exploiting them. The United Nations estimates that 2.5 million people are trafficked annually. It deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it is a global health risk, and it fuels organized crime.

Victims of trafficking are forced or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. Labor trafficking ranges from domestic servitude and small-scale labor operations to large-scale operations such as farms, sweatshops, and major multinational corporations. Sex trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of trafficking and involves any form of sexual exploitation in prostitution, pornography, bride trafficking, and the commercial sexual abuse of children.

Sex Trafficking to the US

The United States is a destination country for international trafficking: transportation of foreign women and children into the U.S. for purposes of sexual and labor exploitation.  The State Department estimates that approximately 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked annually into the United States alone. Victims brought to the U.S. originate from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa.  Foreign national women and children brought to the U.S. for sex trafficking find themselves forced to work in massage parlors, hostess clubs, commercially-fronted brothels, residential brothels, escort services, and strip clubs.

Sex Trafficking Within the US

Sex trafficking also happens to U.S. citizens and residents already residing within the U.S. borders. An estimated 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry annually. Traffickers coerce women and children to enter the commercial sex industry through the use of a variety of recruitment and control mechanisms in strip clubs, street-based prostitution, escort services, and brothels.

Domestic sex traffickers (“pimps”) particularly target vulnerable young girls, such as runaway, homeless, and foster-care children. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12-13 years old in the U.S.  One reason that most girls working in prostitution enter the trade in their preteens is directly related to the age at which many were victims of incest. The average age of incest is 12 years old. Incest and other forms of abuse often drive a child to run away from home and become vulnerable to the slick tactics of pimps and other predators. The pimp seduces a new recruit with the lure of love, protection, wealth, designer clothes, fancy cars, and exclusive nightclubs. Pimps move from city to city looking for children and young women who are easy prey: alone, desperate, and alienated. Once they move the victim from her hometown into a strange city, the pimp can easily force her to work as a prostitute. Thousands of children and women are victimized in this way every year.

5 Ways You Can Fight Human Trafficking

  1. Get Informed and Inform Others
  2. Get Involved
  3. Support Organizations Fighting Trafficking
  4. Be An Informed Consumer
  5. Join a Local or State Anti-trafficking Group