Introduction to human trafficking

Over 50 million victims

Modern slavery is all around us, but most people are unaware of it.

There are more people in slavery today than at any other time in history: more than 50 million children, women and men live in modern slavery, or six out of every 1,000 people in the world (according to the International Labor Organization ILO, Walk Free and the International Organization for Migration IOM). If they all lived together in one city, it would be one of the largest cities in the world.

Modern slavery exists everywhere: more than 1.9 million people work in slave-like conditions in Europe, the United States, Japan and Australia.

Human trafficking is the transportation of a person into a situation of exploitation. This can include forced labor, forced marriage, prostitution, or organ harvesting. 

This type of exploitation is known by different names: human trafficking – trafficking in persons or modern slavery – are the accepted names by the U.S. Department of State.

Human trafficking is the second largest organized crime in the world. – U.S. Department of State.


One in 130 women in the world lives in a situation of modern slavery.

In fact, women and girls make up 71% of all victims of modern slavery (Walk Free Foundation). 

Approximately one in five children is a victim of sexual exploitation. Many of these children are sold into sex slavery for as little as $10 and some as young as 5 years old (Anderson Cooper 360°).

Labor/Sex Slavery: Most people in slavery work in industries such as agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, mining, public services, and domestic work.

Modern slavery is a huge business: a recent ILO study estimated that modern slavery generates annual profits of more than US$150 billion, as much as the combined profits of the world’s four most profitable companies.

US$150 billion in annual illicit profits.
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