Human Trafficking Fast Facts

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world, generating more than $150 billion annually, yet few people know exactly what it is and who it affects. Use these fast facts to educate yourself and others so we can help address the injustice of human trafficking.


1. The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment and/or transportation of persons through force, fraud, or coercion.

Human trafficking occurs when someone in a position of power exploits an individual in a vulnerable situation, typically for financial gain. Traffickers will use a variety of manipulation tactics to undermine a victim’s autonomy, some of which include lies and manipulation, physical isolation, and theft of personal identification documents.
Source: United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

2. Human trafficking takes on various forms.

Labor trafficking and sexual exploitation are the two widely accepted categories of human trafficking, but there are countless, unique manifestations of this human rights abuse. Specific types of trafficking include, but are not limited to: involuntary domestic servitude, forced marriage, child soldiering, forced begging, forced criminal activity, and organ trafficking.
Source: Human Trafficking Center

3. Women and girls are overwhelmingly the victims of sex trafficking.

Women are being victimized with growing frequency, both for sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude, and forced marriages. In areas of armed conflict, forced marriages are especially prevalent, and minority women are usually common targets.
Source: NPR

4. Human trafficking occurs everywhere, and there have been cases in all 50 states as well as in our capital, Washington, D.C.

One misconception people tend to have about human trafficking is that it only
occurs to individuals in urban areas and that the United States is only a transit country. However, cases of American citizens have been reported in urban, suburban, and rural areas all across the United States.
Source: Polaris Project

5. There are more than 40 million victims of human trafficking across the globe.

Mis- and under-identification of victims make it extremely difficult to understand the breadth and extent of human trafficking. But most researchers and advocates agree that the crime affects tens of millions of individuals, including the 24.9 million trapped in labor trafficking alone.
Source: International Labor Organization, Global Slavery Index

6. Around 30% of trafficked persons around the world are children.

The 2016 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons reveals a steady increase in child trafficking in the last decade. For example, in 2004, children made up 13% of all documented trafficked persons. Now, girls alone make up 23%.
Source: United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

7. Nations are making progress in the fight against human trafficking.

Most countries now have anti-trafficking laws. Additionally, data collection regarding both traffickers and victims is becoming more comprehensive and sophisticated. These two things are allowing nations to build capacity to identify and respond appropriately to this serious injustice and help end the cycle of trafficking.
Source: NPR

8. GlobalGiving supports more than 500 anti-human trafficking organizations.

Our incredible nonprofit partners tackle the injustice of human trafficking in a variety of ways, such as through educational prevention efforts in Thailand, providing healthcare and rehabilitation in Kosovo, and much more. No matter where or how, our nonprofit partners are committed to serving the most vulnerable in their communities.
Source: GlobalGiving Learn Library

While many of these facts are daunting, countless individuals and organizations are already on the ground helping to prevent and fight human trafficking. Whether it’s through legislation, education, or grassroots efforts, fighting a human rights issue of this magnitude requires experts on all fronts. Thankfully, various GlobalGiving partners are engaging the fight from all angles, all over the world.

Support local nonprofits working to end human trafficking today.



Featured Photo: Prevention Through Education by The Freedom Story

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