Facts About Trafficking

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Through force, fraud and or coercion people are recruited, harbored and transported for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking generates billions of dollars each year as people are transported around the world to work in prostitution, pornography, sweatshops, construction, housekeeping, agriculture, restaurants and more.

Often victims migrate willingly, responding to fraudulent offers of employment. Upon their arrival they are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude or the commercial sex trade. Many international victims encounter language barriers, and are threatened with punishment or harm to family members in their home countries. In the United States, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 made human trafficking a federal crime but due to the hidden nature of the problem, it is difficult to locate trafficked persons.

The following statistics are the most accurate available, given these complexities, but may represent an underestimation of trafficking on a global and national scale.

Each year, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders (some international and non-governmental organizations place the number far higher), and the trade is growing. (U.S. Department of State. 2004. Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State.)

According to a CIA report, 700,000 to 2 million women and children worldwide are victimized by traffickers each year. The UN estimates that around 4 million people a year are now traded against their will to work in some form of slavery.

After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and is the fastest growing with the majority of the victims being women and children.

Each year, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States. The number of U.S. citizens trafficked within the country each year is even higher, with an estimated 200,000 American children at risk for trafficking into the sex industry. (U.S. Department of Justice. 2004. Report to Congress from Attorney General John Ashcroft on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in Fiscal Year 2003. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.)

The largest number of people trafficked into the United States come from East Asia and the Pacific (5,000 to 7,000 victims). The next highest numbers come from Latin America followed by Europe and Eurasia, with between 3,500 and 5,500 victims from each. (U.S. Departments of Justice, Health & Human Services, State, Labor, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. 2004. Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.)

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