Human trafficking is modern-day slavery; it generates about $32 billion annually and has roughly 2.5 million people trapped at a time. Human trafficking is the third-largest international crime industry and affects every country. Understanding the details of human trafficking is critical to building awareness and boosting relief efforts put in place to reduce crime.
There are three elements that usually comprise a full definition of human trafficking: the act, the means and the purpose.
The act is the form of exploitation, such as commercial sex or labor services. The means is how human trafficking is being carried out: either by force, fraud or coercion. The purpose explains why people are being trafficked; reasons range from personal gain to monetary profit.
Human trafficking comes in many different forms and impacts people from a variety of backgrounds, including men, women and children, though more than half of trafficking victims are women and girls.
About 4.5 million people worldwide are sexually exploited by force each year, and about 14.2 million people are exploited through labor. Some examples of types of exploitation are prostitution, manufacturing, domestic work, construction, mining and utilities. Each form of exploitation generates large profits while enslaving millions of people.
Trafficking typically originates in less developed countries and later moves into more developed countries.
China is among the countries most affected by human trafficking. It is estimated that .25 percent of China’s population is living in modern-day slavery. Its internal migrant population makes Chinese children, women and men easily subjected to forced labor and commercial sex. Women and children from neighboring countries are subject to labor and sex trafficking in China as well.
Human trafficking is an international crime that can be prosecuted globally. The number of crimes prosecuted is quite low when compared to the number of crimes committed. For example, in 2015 there were an estimated 14.5 million labor victims worldwide and only about 857 cases were prosecuted.
These cases are prosecuted globally because the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a protocol in place to prevent, suppress and punish traffickers. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 and enforced in 2003.
There are numerous organizations dedicated to combating human trafficking. The Polaris Project has become a leader in relief efforts. Named after the North Star, which is said to have guided U.S. slaves to freedom, Polaris aims to free trafficking victims on a large scale. It implements a variety of strategies to fight human trafficking, including advocating for stronger federal and state laws and operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline to connect with and protect survivors.
As a billion-dollar crime industry, human trafficking impacts every country in the world and people from all backgrounds. It is a heinous crime with many organizations dedicated to ending its perpetration. Polaris is one organization that provides relief and opportunities to help. There are many other organizations like Polaris that provide information on the details of human trafficking, and this is readily available to anyone looking for it.
– Danyel Harrigan