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Trafficking Facts and Indicators

The victims of modern slavery have many faces. They are men and women, adults and children. Yet, all are denied basic human dignity and freedom … all too often suffering from horrible physical and sexual abuse, it is hard for them to imagine that there might be a place of refuge.

— US President Barack Obama, Jan. 4, 2010

In June of 2017, the International Labor Organization (ILO) released its updated global estimate of forced labor, (the equivalent of the U.S. Government’s umbrella term for trafficking in persons). Using improved methodology, greater sources of data, and including forced marriage into the numbers, modern slavery around the world claim 40.3 million victims at any time. 71% of the victims are female and 25% of the victims are children

  • 25 million are in forced labor which includes forced labor exploitation in the private economy, forced sexual exploitation of adults and commercial sexual exploitation of children, as well as state-imposed forced labor
  • Forced labor exploitation of adults and children
    • 16 million victims around the world
    • 51% are in debt bondage situations
  • Forced sexual exploitation of adults and commercial sexual exploitation of children
    • 4,800,000 victims around the world
    • 1,000,000 of the victims are under 18 years of age
    • Women and girls account for more 99% of all victims of forced sexual exploitation
  • State-imposed forced labor
    • 4,100,000 victims around the world
  • 15 million are in forced marriage
  • In the last several years the global financial crisis has raised the specter of increased human trafficking around the world.
  • After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second-largest criminal industry in the world today, and it is the fastest-growing. (


U.S. Department of State Annual Trafficking in Persons Reports

For a comprehensive list of the signs and indicators of human trafficking, see Human Trafficking Indicators (PDF)

If you have come in contact with someone you think may be a trafficking victim, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-3737-888.

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