The Reality of Human Trafficking: Facts and Resources

Published by jessIDEA on

The Department of Homeland Security characterizes human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery. Victims are bought and sold for the profit of their traffickers and exploited for services including labor and commercial sex. These victims – men, women, and children – are often too afraid of both their traffickers and the stigmas they may face in society to reach out to law enforcement for help.

Although there are many resources, reports, and organizations dedicated to helping victims and educating the public on the realities of human trafficking, misconceptions and confusion about this type of crime are still very common in the public. In this blog, we’ll define what human trafficking is, look at trafficking facts, and identify reliable resources like the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) website.

What is Human Trafficking?

A broad definition of human trafficking is a crime that involves exploiting someone for labor, services, or commercial sex. However, the FBI differentiates between sexual slavery and involuntary servitude. Both are considered to be acts of human trafficking, but their definitions differ significantly to address the unique aspects of each crime more appropriately:

Human Trafficking/Commercial Sex Acts: inducing a person by force, fraud, or coercion to participate in commercial sex acts, or in which the person induced to perform such act(s) has not attained 18 years of age. 

Human Trafficking/Involuntary Servitude: obtaining of a person(s) through recruitment, harboring, transportation, or provision, and subjecting such persons by force, fraud, or coercion into involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery (not to include commercial sex acts). 

It can be difficult to define and understand human trafficking because it encompasses such a wide range of violent acts and crimes. But the face of human trafficking is not singular. 

Human trafficking can be a young boy forced to labor in unsafe factory conditions. It can be a teen who’s coerced into exchanging sex for housing. And it can also be an adult who was promised fair wages only to become trapped in abusive working conditions after relocation. 

Facts on Human Trafficking

Human trafficking can happen to anyone, in any community. Out of identified human trafficking victims, organizations such as Fight to End Exploitation have discovered that:

  • 49% of victims are adult women 
  • 23% are adolescent girls 
  • 21% are adult males 
  • 7% are adolescent boys

However, statistics have reflected that some demographics are at a higher risk of exposure to human trafficking than others:

  • LGBTQ+ adolescents are 7.4 times more likely to experience sexual assault and violence than heterosexual youths
  • 40% of sex trafficking victims were identified as black women
  • 60-70% of trafficked children in the U.S. are recruited from the foster care system or child social services
  • Around 1 in every 7 runaways becomes a victim of sex trafficking

There are an estimated 24.9 million victims of human trafficking in the world at any given time. This crime encapsulates all nationalities, ethnicities, ages, genders, and races. The number is alarming, but when authorities and communities utilize the right tools and strategies, we can push forward as a collective and better safeguard our friends, families, and neighbors. 

What is being done to stop human trafficking around the world?

Because human trafficking is so complex, a one-size-fits-all solution for eradication doesn’t exist. However, efforts are being made internationally to fight human trafficking and provide assistance to survivors. For example:

  • The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which has been in effect for over 15 years, created a space for many European countries to participate in the conversation and dedicate themselves to bringing trafficking to a definite stop.
  • The UN created the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and punish Trafficking in Persons in 2000. This approach focuses on victim aid and has been signed by 177 nations since its foundation.
  • The UNODC educates countries across the globe and promotes legislation that prohibits trafficking and brings perpetrators to justice.

A huge amount of progress has been made in the United States in the last 20 years as well. A notable example of legislation is the Trafficking Victims Protections Act, which centers around bringing traffickers to justice and protecting survivors. 

Data analytics has also already produced successful results in the US. The Hermes project emerged as a powerful tool for detecting and exhibiting potential human trafficking violations. Its analytical abilities were largely used by police to monitor possible transgressions at multiple large-scale sporting events, which are known centers for high-risk trafficking activity. 

Find the Right Resources

Having the right resources in your toolbelt will help you make an impact in the fight to end human trafficking. Visit the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) website to find information on programs, training, news, and assistance for trafficking victims, and the Office on Trafficking in Persons webpage to find resources for victim aid, training, partnerships, and more. 

  • To learn more about what human trafficking looks like, check out some insights from OVC here.
  • To learn how your organization can join in the fight against human trafficking, visit the OVC Training & Technical Assistance resource here and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center (NHTTAC) here.
  • To confront human trafficking using your data, visit IDEA Analytics’ DATASET TTA program here.

Closing Thoughts

Misinformation and confusion about what human trafficking is and who it affects are widespread in the public. While there is no singular solution to this type of crime, encouraging education and training in our communities is necessary to prevent trafficking crimes and identify victims. By working to understand human trafficking statistics and using expert resources, you’ll be taking an important first step towards a future that doesn’t include human trafficking.