5 Things You Need to Know About Human Trafficking


by Amanda Kloer

There are some days when the big issues in the world, like human trafficking, just feel too huge to wrap your head around.  Maybe today is one of those days.  Or maybe you don’t want to read a dissertation on human trafficking, but just learn what’s really important.  Either way, here are 5 things you need to know about human trafficking:

1. Human trafficking is slavery. It’s not “slave-like”, it’s not “sweatshop labor”, it’s slavery.  Human trafficking victims are forced to work, under threat of violence.  They can’t leave.  They’re not compensated fairly. It is actual slavery, happening today.

2. Human trafficking happens to millions of people.  Estimates of the number of slaves in the world today range from a few million to 27 million.  Up to 800,000 are trafficked internationally every year, with up to 17,500 trafficked into the U.S.  There are more slaves in the world today than there were at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

3. Human trafficking happens where you live. In the U.S., human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states and Washington, DC.  It’s a problem in every country in world as well.  Human trafficking isn’t relegated to a far away land; it’s in your backyard.

4. Human trafficking is driven by demand. Traffickers enslave to make money, whether it’s through selling t-shirts or sex acts or soccer balls or lap dances or domestic servants.  When you as a consumer demand the cheap goods, labor, or commercial sex services, traffickers step in with their slaves to meet that demand.  If there was not demand for the labor and products of slaves, there would be no market for slavery. 

5. You can end human trafficking. Right now, sitting at your computer, you can take action to end slavery.  You can stop demanding slave-made products. You can start supporting organizations which work to end slavery.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

When fighting human trafficking seems too big and too complicated, remember this: Millions of people around the world live in slavery, including where you live.  Human trafficking is driven by demand, but you can take action to end it.  Now that’s something you can wrap your head around. 

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