Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day – End Modern Slavery

Somaly Mam, human trafficking survivor and abolitionist

January 11 marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States. According to the U. S. Bureau of Justice Statistics:

  • Federally funded task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation between January 2008 and June 2010.
  • Federal agencies were more likely to lead labor trafficking investigations (29%) than sex trafficking investigations (7%).
  • Among the 389 incidents confirmed to be human trafficking by high data quality task forces:
    – There were 488 suspects and 527 victims.
    – More than half (62%) of the confirmed labor trafficking victims were age 25 or older, compared to 13% of confirmed sex trafficking victims.
    – Confirmed sex trafficking victims were more likely to be white (26%) or black (40%), compared to labor trafficking victims, who were more likely to be Hispanic (63%) or Asian (17%).
    – Four-fifths of victims (83%) in confirmed sex trafficking incidents were identified as U.S. citizens, while most confirmed labor trafficking victims were identified as undocumented aliens (67%) or qualified aliens (28%).
    – Most confirmed human trafficking suspects were male (81%). More than half (62%) of confirmed sex trafficking suspects were identified as black, while confirmed labor trafficking suspects were more likely to be identified as Hispanic (48%).

The previous statistics represent only those cases with ‘high quality data’ (evidence, witnesses, etc.) and probably represent only a fraction of the trafficking activity and victims in the U.S. The problem of human trafficking, of course, goes far beyond the borders of the U. S.

According to the UN’s Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN-GIFT) report, at any given time, on any given day, some 2.5 million are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) resulting from human trafficking.

The Global View: Who are the Victims?

The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age, but an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year as well.

– 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries*).

– 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls.

– 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls.

– And, flying against some assumptions, many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education.

human trafficking map
Findings of the legislative framework in place in different countries to prevent/reduce human trafficking. The findings are from the 2010 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report

What parts of the world do victims come from?

o  1.4 million – 56% – are in Asia and the Pacific
o  250,000 – 10% – are in Latin America and the Caribbean
o  230,000 – 9.2% – are in the Middle East and Northern Africa
o  130,000 – 5.2% – are in sub-Saharan countries
o  270,000 – 10.8% – are in industrialized countries
o  200,000 – 8% – are in countries in transition

What Countries are involved in human trafficking?

161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination.

People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy.

Who are the traffickers?

•  52% of those recruiting victims are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women.

•  In 54% of cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of cases the recruiter was known to victim.

•  The majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring.

What is the Profit Incentive for Human Trafficking?

The estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are  US$ 31.6 billion.  Of this:

o  US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
o  US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
o  US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
o  US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
o  US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle East and North Africa

How many are brought to justice?

•  In 2006 there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world.

•  This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted in 2006. 

What You can do to Help Stop Human Trafficking?

(the following is quoted directly from the Somaly Mam Foundation website)

If you have 5 minutes:

If you have 1 hour:

If you have 1 day:

There are many ways to get involved in the fight against modern-day slavery. Visit to learn more. Please join the movement to end human trafficking: start today.

Click this link to learn about more human trafficking awareness events

* The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Stolen smiles: a summary report on the physical and psychological health consequences of women and adolescents trafficked in Europe (London, 2006)

Top photo: human trafficking survivor and abolitionist Somaly Mam, website

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