What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking occurs when traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to exploit people in the commercial sex industry, domestic servitude, manual labor, and in other ways. That definition however, cannot capture the suffering of modern-day slaves. It is easy for North Americans to feel removed from the pain and think human trafficking is only happening in remote places around the world. However, it is happening here in the United States and Canada as well.


Human trafficking is happening in every country of the world. Twenty-seven million people are in some form of slavery today as commercial sex slaves, forced laborers, or child soldiers. Twelve and a half million people are victims of forced labor worldwide with two and a half million as a result of human trafficking. According to the State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders worldwide every year. Fifty percent of these people are children, 80% are female, and the majority are trafficked for sexual exploitation. Human trafficking is the third largest source of income for organized crime, generating close to $32 billion in annual illicit profits. Trafficking for sexual exploitation represents twenty-five percent of the trade.