Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. I’m so glad. As a self-avowed 21st Century Abolitionist, I desperately want people to know about the horrible scourge of slavery. That includes human trafficking.
Ten years ago, when I first started writing about 21st century slavery, people had trouble believing this was actually happening. People–especially girls and women–kidnapped, bought and sold? Forced to work as slave labor… or prostitutes? “You writers,” one radio interviewer huffed after Daughers of Hope, my first book on the subject, came out. “You do like to grab hold of some fringe cause and blow it all out of proportions.”
That was then. Today, after so many celebrities have dipped their toes into the abolition waters, most of us know something about human trafficking.
Here are some facts you may not know:
- Approximately 40 million people are held as slaves today, more than ever before in history.
- Trafficking takes many forms, including forcing victims into prostitution, making them labor as slaves, tricking them into debt bondage, forcing them to serve in wars, harvesting their organs.
- The average cost of a slave is around $90—an all time low.
- 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation.
- About half of all trafficking victims are children. 80% are under 24.
- An estimated 30,000 victims die each year.
- Family members often sell children and other family members into slavery.
- According to a 2009 Washington Times article, the Taliban buys children as young as seven years old to act as suicide bombers. The price? $7,000 to $14,000.
- Countries that rank high as a source of trafficking includeBelarus,Russia,Ukraine,Albania,Bulgaria,Romania,China,Thailand, andNigeria.
- Victims are trafficked to many countries. High on the destination list areBelgium,Germany,Greece,Israel,Italy,Japan, theNetherlands,Brazil,Turkeyand theU.S.
- Most human trafficking in theU.S.occurs inNew York,California, andFlorida.
- Human trafficking has been reported in all 50U.S.states,Washington,D.C., and in someU.S.territories.
- The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked inAmerica.
- Women are trafficked into theU.S.mostly to work in sex industries. Others are trafficked in to work in seatshops, in people’s homes, and in agriculture.
- Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes because it is hugely profitable and it involves little risk.
- Human trafficking is estimated to bring in somewhere between $9 billion and $31 billion.
- In less than five years, it is expected to surpass the drug trade.
- According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century, both in theUnited Statesand around the world.
(All these statistics are estimates, of course. Human trafficking is so shadowy a crime that it’s difficult to get accurate statistics.)
Today, January 11, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. But President Obama went a step further and named all of January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Thank you, Mr. President.
“Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent.”