On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, our hearts are with the many women and children we are blessed to love: the warriors, survivors, thrivers and overcomers who have beat the odds and are processing trauma. They are growing in a sense of self-agency and healing more and more everyday. While we don’t share their individual stories in order to protect privacy and the healing process, we can share general information about human trafficking, what it is and why it matters.
According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, human trafficking is:
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, or
- The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Contrary to popular belief, human trafficking has nothing to do with travel or crossing borders- that is human smuggling, which is an entirely different crime. The most important part to remember about the definition for human trafficking is that it uses force, fraud and/or coercion in order to exploit people for sex, services or labor.
Human trafficking statistics vary based on whose data you are considering. Here are some stats for you:
- The Global Slavery Index estimates that over 40 million people are enslaved worldwide.
- According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an estimated 300,000 or more children could be trafficked in the United States each year.
- The average age a person is first trafficked is 11-13 years of age.
- The average life expectancy after being trafficked is only 7 years.
- Of the 25,000 missing children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2017, it is estimated that 1 in 7 were victims of human trafficking. Most cases are never reported. Of those reported, 88 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing.
- Worldwide, human trafficking is a $150-billion industry and is the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. Of that $150-billion, roughly $100-billion is from sex trafficking.
- It is often said that people who sell drugs only make a profit one time, but a trafficker who sells a person for sex can sell her or him over and over again. The average profits from each person a trafficker exploits is over $100,000 per year and many traffickers exploit several people at the same time.
- Human trafficking is incredibly underreported with only 14,894 prosecutions and 9,071 convictions for trafficking globally in 2016, according to the Trafficking in Persons report.
When something like human trafficking is this horrendous and widespread, how can we afford to look the other way? Stats would indicate that whether we are aware of it or not, most of us are friends with or know someone who is a survivor of human trafficking. Millions of people worldwide are recovering from human trafficking, and while we cannot build a personal relationship or friendship with each one, all of us can reach out to connect with one or two people in some way.
The adults and children who are exploited through human trafficking have varied stories, but one common thread remains: they have vulnerabilities (like we all do) that were exploited by human traffickers who had the motive of harming them and making a profit.
If the magnitude of the problem seems so big you don’t know where to start, consider this:
- We have the power to simply love and form relationships.
- We have the power to show up, however imperfectly.
- We have the power to learn about human trafficking.
- We have the power to contribute financially to solutions.
- We have the power to influence legislation.
- We have the power to speak up and spread awareness.
- We have the power to simply be the change, each of us in our own corner of the world, doing what we are already doing each day.
Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we thank you for joining us in creating loving community with people who have lived experience of human trafficking and their families. We look forward to connecting with you and serving you through education and opportunities to partner with what is happening at Love Powered Life.