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What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the exploitation of others for profit. It involves controlling, deceiving, and exploiting people for labor, services, or commercial sex. It is a massive yet often hidden global epidemic that affects over 40 million victims worldwide.

The Trafficking Crisis

Human trafficking generates over $150 billion each year, making it extremely profitable for traffickers. The vast majority of victims are vulnerable women and children. Girls as young as 12-14 years old are routinely targeted, manipulated and forced into sexual exploitation. Trafficking crimes often go undetected, with fewer than 1% of victims being properly identified. This multi-billion dollar industry continues thriving in the shadows.

Causes of Trafficking

Several key factors enable human trafficking practices to persist globally:


The demand for cheap commercial sex and labor allows trafficking to remain highly profitable.


Lack of awareness and under-reporting of trafficking cases allows crimes to go unnoticed.


Social and economic inequality put certain groups at higher risk of exploitation.


Insufficient legal consequences fail to deter traffickers or buyers.

Types of Trafficking

There are two main types of human trafficking:

Sex Trafficking

Inducing someone into commercial sex acts through force, fraud, coercion, or any means if the victim is a minor. It occurs in massage parlors, strip clubs, escort services, and other fronts.

Labor Trafficking

Forcing someone into labor or services through violence, manipulation, lies, or debt bondage. Common in factories, construction, restaurants, and agricultural work.

Signs of Trafficking

Because trafficking often happens out of public view, it can be difficult to detect. Here are some potential signs:

  • Inability to leave a job, residence, or situation
  • Bruises, depression, fear, overly submissive behavior
  • No control over money, ID documents, or cell phone
  • Inconsistent history or information

What Can I Do?

Get informed, share information, and report suspected trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Trafficking can only be stopped if we shine a light on this hidden crime.