Slavery. Many people think it's something from a history book. But modern-day slavery — human trafficking — is happening every day around the world and in the United States.
Trafficking is the fastest growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world today. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people a year are trafficked across international borders. Of these, an estimated 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the United States. About 80 percent of victims are women and girls. U.S. victims are usually from Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa.
Traffickers often target the poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, and other people desperate for a better life. They lure their victims with promises of good jobs, money, or fresh start. Victims are then used for forced labor or sexual exploitation. They work unpaid or under-paid jobs like farm work, sweatshops, restaurant work, and as domestic help. The hours are long and the work is hard. Sexual exploitation victims are forced to work as prostitutes, used for pornography, or forced into marriage or other kinds of relationships.
The victims are trapped. Many do not have the money or resources to leave. In other cases, the abusers may be holding the victim's identification papers. They are beaten, mentally abused, starved, and in some cases, kept under lock and key.
Help is available for trafficking victims. If you are a victim, know someone who is a victim, or know of a person(s) or operation you think may be involved in trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center can help with calls from all regions of the United States. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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