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July 25, 2014

Human Trafficking by the Numbers

“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name - - modern slavery.”- President Barack Obama, September 25, 2012


Human Trafficking Defined:

Under U.S. law, trafficking in persons is defined as “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age;” or “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”

Human trafficking can be a transnational process where victims are recruited abroad and transported across borders into another country where they are exploited for labor and/or sex. However, human trafficking can also be a domestic phenomenon, where little or no transportation is required.

A Global Problem:

According to a May 2014 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO):

  • An estimated 21 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 14.2 million (68%) were exploited for labor, 4.5 million (22%) were sexually exploited, and 2.2 million (10%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.
  • Forced labor takes place in many different industries. Of the 14.2 million trafficking victims exploited for labor:
    1. 7.1 million (50%) forced labor victims work in construction, manufacturing, mining, or utilities
    2. 3.4 million (24%) forced labor victims are domestic workers
    3. 3.5 million (25%) forced labor victims work in agriculture
  • 55% of trafficking victims around the world are women and girls and 45% are men and boys.
  • 15.4 million victims (74%) are aged 18 or older, with the number of children under the age of 18 estimated at 5.5 million (26%).
  • The Asia-pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced laborers—11.7 million (56% of the global total). Africa has 3.7 million (18%) followed by Latin America and the Caribbean with 1.8 million (7%). Countries in central, south-eastern and eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States have 1.6 million (7%). There are an estimated 600,000 (3%) victims in the Middle East.
  • Human trafficking does not always involve travel to the destination of exploitation: 9.1 million victims of forced labor (44%) moved either internally or internationally, while the majority, 11.8 million (56%), were subjected to forced labor within their place of origin.
  • Victims spend an average of 18 months in forced labor, although this varied with different forms of forced labor.