According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and its 2003, 2005, and 2008 reauthorizations, human trafficking has occurred if a person was induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present.
Due to the “hidden” nature of trafficking activities, gathering statistics on the magnitude of the problem is a complex and difficult task.
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.)
Of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked across international borders each year,
70 percent are female and 50 percent are children.
The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade. (Ibid.)
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 and from 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.)
People who have been trafficked and sexually exploited may:
The most vulnerable members of the global community, those who have limited access to social services and protections, are targeted by traffickers for exploitation. Steps have been taken, however, to locate victims, reinstate their inherent rights, provide them with protection and services, and prosecute offenders.
No country is immune from human trafficking. Victims are forced into prostitution or to work in quarries and sweatshops, on farms, as domestics, as child soldiers, and in many forms of involuntary servitude. Traffickers often target children and young women. They routinely trick victims with promises of employment, educational opportunities, marriage, and a better life. (U.S. Department of State. 2004. Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State.)
Human trafficking is the third most profitable criminal activity, following only drug and arms trafficking. An estimated 9.5 billion is generated in annual revenue from all trafficking activities, with at least $4 billion attributed to the worldwide brothel industry. (Ibid.)
The following scenarios might be red flags for relationships or jobs that may develop into human trafficking. One or more of these may indicate that an individual is at-risk for sex or labor trafficking. This list is not exhaustive.
In some cases, leaving or attempting to leave a trafficking situation may increase the risk of violence. It is important to trust your judgment when taking steps to ensure your safety.
If you are ever in immediate danger, the quickest way to access help is to call 9-1-1.
When communicating with someone in a dangerous or potential trafficking situation:
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