Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world - Polaris
Human trafficking is a travesty that many consider a problem of the past, or at least one limited to outside the United States. Unfortunately, in today's globalized society, the problems of human trafficking are embedded in aspects of Americans' daily lives in ways that many may not be aware of – taking on new forms and presenting new challenges for human-rights defenders worldwide.
President Obama has called the fight against human trafficking one of the great human-rights causes of our time. Though statistics vary widely, human trafficking is estimated to impact between 600,000 and 800,000 people worldwide; between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States annually. Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S., but freedom remains elusive for many. Here's why:
Human trafficking is shockingly common around the world.
According to an International Labour Organization report from 2012, a staggering three out of every 1,000 people worldwide are in forced labor. That's nearly 21 million people, including 1.5 million in North America – where the U.S. defines human trafficking as falling into two categories, sex trafficking and labor trafficking, under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act passed in 2000.
Poor labor standards in the restaurant industry and for domestic workers create conditions ripe for trafficking.
Many victims of human trafficking in the U.S. end up performing forced labor in the restaurant industry or as domestic workers. UC Irvine law professor Jennifer M. Chacon places the blame for the failure to stop this problem on insufficient labor protections for all workers – but particularly undocumented migrants. Organizers in the restaurant industry and on behalf of domestic workers agree.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United) cites two major policy issues at the heart of this problem: first, the need to abolish the tip-based minimum wage; second, the need for universal paid sick days. The group reached these conclusions after a 2011 survey that found 87.7 percent of workers nationwide do not have paid sick days and almost half of workers have experienced overtime violations. "The restaurant industry has the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States," says ROC United co-founder Saru Jayaraman, who argues that this problem is compounded for immigrant workers and trafficked workers with no rights on the job; in many cases, sexual harassment can lead to sexual assault. The organization created the National Diners Guide app as one way for consumers to educate themselves about working conditions at restaurants in major cities in the United States.
Similar problems of forced labor arise for domestic workers. Author and former employment attorney Sheila Bapat reports that the majority of the 2 million domestic workers in America are women of color. "There are migrant workers who arrive from other countries to work with employers under ostensibly reasonable conditions (steady pay, a place to live, reasonable hours) but ultimately end up working in slave-like conditions," Bapat says. She argues that the recent Supreme Court rulingthat domestic workers don't have the same rights to form unions as other kinds of workers will make it even more difficult to ensure a safe workplace for many domestic workers, many of whom don’t know even know their rights.
America's immigration policy exacerbates the human trafficking problem.
The current U. S. guestworker program has led to a host of problems for immigrants. After horrible human-rights violations were exposed in fine dining restaurants in New Orleans, workers created the National Guestworkers Alliance as a means to organize, finding their experience to be similar to workers across the country. Agriculture laborers also face severe health and safety concerns and in many cases feel unsafe turning to any authorities for help.
Georgetown professor Denise Brennan writes about forced labor in the United States in her book Life Interrupted: Trafficking into Forced Labor in the United States. "Contrary to claims that 'modern-day slavery' is all around us, the politically thorny reality is that exploited migrant labor is all around us. Most workers are not in a situation of extreme abuse – they are not trafficked. But they work in lousy conditions nonetheless – in a kind of labor purgatory. There is no immigration relief or protections for being 'almost trafficked,'" Brennan tells RS. "Our current immigration regime – deportation regime – makes it impossible to fight trafficking."
The debate over sex work can be a distraction.
By far the largest number of human trafficking cases reported are for sex trafficking – but how to support these victims (and, indeed, how to decide who is labeled as a victim) is a major subject of debate in the U.S. right now.
Tara Burns, author of the Whore Diaries series, wrote about her experience supporting herself with "survival sex" while homeless and struggling with the foster care system. Burns says that anti-trafficking laws negatively impacted her as well as other homeless youth – noting that the current anti-trafficking regime in many American cities means those involved in sex work in any capacity are often viewed as victims of trafficking, which is not necessarily the case, rather than taking into account the economic realities behind the choices of some of these individuals.
Sex worker advocates argue sex workers must be included in developing anti-trafficking initiatives. In a promising move, restrictions on funding for those organizations that work with active sex workers were lifted by the Obama administration in 2010. Organizations like the Sex Workers Project believe the move away from criminalization of sex work and instead towards harm reduction is paramount to more successfully addressing sex trafficking. This group is one of the first in the nation to assist survivors of human trafficking. The organization "provides client-centered legal and social services to individuals who engage in sex work, regardless of whether they do so by choice, circumstance or coercion," and is the only U.S. organization working with both active sex workers and trafficking victims.
We need better programs and support for survivors of human trafficking.
Although the United States can issue up to 5,000 visas a year for victims of human trafficking, only a very small fraction of them have been granted in recent years. "Trafficking visas are really hard to get even if you have a horrible situation," says Saru Jarayaman. "That means there are neither resources for those who have been trafficked, nor real consequences for traffickers."
Human Rights Watch highlights the often unspoken reality of what happens to survivors of human trafficking. As Nisha Varia, a senior researcher in HRW's Women’s Rights Division, noted in a recent HRW post, "Sadly, victims of forced labor are too often treated like criminals instead of people who are entitled to assistance." Varia also believes that there is a need for improved efforts to identify victims of forced labor to avoid double victimization during immigration and criminal proceedings.
Source: Jamie J Hagen, 5 Things You Didn't Know About Human Trafficking, Rolling Stone, August 19, 2014.
The exploitation of women, men, and children for forced labor and sexual acts has permeated the global community unlike ever before. The Internet paradoxically creates both new opportunities for traffickers to exploit vulnerable people around the world, and a platform to identify traffickers in the multi-billion dollar industry.
Many people think that human trafficking only involves the sex trade. And, yes forced prostitution exists and it’s horrifying for it’s many victims, but in reality forced physical labor is far more common.
For victims of human trafficking, a physician visit can be a life-changing event that sets into motion the process of escaping a captive situation.
Human trafficking is a prevalent practice globally, with instances of exploitation and human rights violations being reported in the majority of nations each year. Still, it's very rarely talked about publicly.
For many, the term “human trafficking” evokes images of perversions hidden in illicit underground markets of developing nations. Ironically, the demand of developed nations like the United States drive the illicit markets domestically and overseas...
The United States leads the world in efforts to end forced labor and modern slavery, devoting resources to protect and assist victims, creating laws to crack down on traffickers, and encouraging other countries to do the same.
But there is one place where U.S. government action on trafficking is lagging: the recruitment and use of children—some as young as 10 years old—as soldiers.
150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, buying and selling people into forced labor is bigger than ever. What "human trafficking" really means.
There are more slaves today than any other time in human history: Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, second only to drug trafficking.
Human trafficking is exploitation. A victim of human trafficking is someone who was compelled through force, fraud and/or coercion to perform acts of labor, including commercial sex.
A new report estimates nearly 46 million people live in contemporary slavery, more than half of them in five countries.
In 2013, the General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action. Member States also adopted resolution A/RES/68/192 and designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. This resolution declared that such a day was necessary to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and for the promotion and protection of their rights.”
With 21 million people around the world in forced labor, what can we do?
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is a national anti-trafficking hotline serving victims and survivors of human trafficking and the anti-trafficking community in the United States. The toll-free hotline is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year in more than 200 languages.
There are more slaves today than ever before. It's time to end human trafficking.
The Well of Life fights against human trafficking through prevention, intervention, and restoration of children, families, and communities, allowing them to be free, healthy, and able to build a life plan
Learn about slavery today, connect with an organization and browse ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
We are a united group of multidisciplinary professionals dedicated to ending human trafficking and supporting its survivors, from a public health perspective.
Human Trafficking Search (HTS) is a global research database and resource hub on human trafficking for the purpose of educating and raising awareness of the issue. First developed in 2006, HTS has grown to manage thousands of multilingual sources on 120 countries...
A network to grow self-sustaining social projects with purpose-driven business to end exploitation and forced labor.
A subcommittee of AMWA that seeks to raise awareness about human trafficking and offers resources to healthcare providers.
Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris systemically disrupts the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom.
Stolen Innocence delves into a hidden world; the untold story of young women captured and forced into a life of sex slavery. Without a voice, without a choice, these girls are violently trafficked into the worlds largest sex ring.
We began after an investigation into the antislavery landscape found there was no one single galvanising global antislavery voice. We set up the Walk Free platform to bring together the voices of the hundreds of effective organisations doing invaluable work on the ground, and citizens around the world mobilised to take action, to spark social change so that modern slavery becomes unthinkable.
End child trafficking with ZOE. We strive to reach every person with the love of God and rescue every child from human trafficking. Through our comprehensive prevention, intervention, and restoration programs, we’re able to transform each child from her past and give her an opportunity for a better future.
4Sarah is a faith based nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower change in the life direction of women and girls who are adult entertainers, prostitutes, escorts, porn stars, or victims of sex trafficking by offering a holistic approach as well as an educational, emotional, physical, and spiritual support.
Anti-Predator Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating human trafficking and sexual predators in the United States through the use of specially trained private investigators. Along with providing investigative and protective services for those victims of these horrific crimes, Anti-Predator Project is also highly dedicated to educating the community about the reality of human trafficking in the United States.
To end human trafficking in our lifetime.
FACESS (Freeing American Children from Exploitation and Sexual Slavery) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the care of young girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking and slavery here in the United States. It is an unfortunate misconception that this is not a problem that occurs in the U.S. But the truth is that the victims of child-sex-trafficking are from every state and every walk of life.
Free the Slaves is in the vanguard of the growing global movement to end one of history’s greatest human rights abuses. We work locally, in some of the world’s worst trafficking hot spots, to generate global change.
To mobilize the power, resources and thought leadership of the business community to end human trafficking, including all forms of forced labor and sex trafficking.
Global incidents and news.
Guardian Group (GG) is committed to an aggressive,
comprehensive approach to taking the fight to human trafficking.
The HTC’s goal is to use academic rigor, sound methodology, and reliable data to promote understanding of human trafficking and its causes, conditions, and cures. We build cooperation and community between academic institutions and the public and private sector to accomplish these goals.
The Human Trafficking Foundation (HTF) is a UK-based charity which grew out of the work of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking. HTF was created in order to support and add value to the work of the many charities and agencies operating to combat human trafficking in the UK.
Countering this crime that some call modern day slavery but is truly the civil rights issue of the 21st century. The newsletter is not only a compendium of news reports concerning state investigations and prosecutions, but also includes proposed and passed federal and state legislative action and federal and state court decisions.
I WILL BRING CHANGE exists to PREVENT human trafficking and support the RESCUE, RESTORATION and REINTEGRATION of survivors.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® is a non—profit 501(c)corporation whose mission is to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization.
To combat human trafficking by supporting and leading systems that prevent trafficking through public awareness and protect victims through identification and assistance, helping them re-build their lives and become self-sufficient.
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking is a collaborative, faith-based national network that offers education, supports access to survivor services, and engages in advocacy in an effort to eradicate modern-day slavery.
CNN wants to amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life.
Up to date news and in depth articles.
UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders - governments, business, academia, civil society and the media - to support each other's work, create new partnerships and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.