by: Haley Burridge
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations. Traffickers seek out individuals who are vulnerable because of psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers as well as language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help.
Human Trafficking Victims
Human trafficking victims have been found in communities nationwide in the agriculture, hospitality, restaurant, domestic work and other industries, as well as in prostitution that is facilitated online, on the street, or in businesses fronting for prostitution such as massage parlors. In fiscal year 2019, HSI initiated 1,024 investigations with a nexus to human trafficking and recorded 2,197 arrests, 1,113 indictments, and 691 convictions; 428 victims were identified and assisted.
Human trafficking is estimated to bring in global profits of about $150 billion a year—$99 billion from sexual exploitation, according to the International Labor Organization. According to the Polaris Project, the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which provides survivors of human trafficking with vital support and options to get help and stay safe, has handled 51,919 cases since 2007, comprising one of the largest publicly available data sets on human trafficking in the United States. In 2018, the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline Statistics reported that there were 23,078 survivors identified, 10,949 human trafficking cases, and 5,859 potential traffickers. However, this data is incomplete, as cases are severely underreported.
The best way to prevent human trafficking is by educating individuals as to what to look for and what to do when they see human trafficking. In many ways human trafficking is a silent crime because it often goes unreported. Professionals such as prosecutors, judges, schools, and doctors are most likely to come in contact with victims of human trafficking and therefore need to make learning about human trafficking a priority. Schools also should be more open to educating children about sex and sex trafficking because it is a safety issue.