The Basics

Context of the Problem

Human trafficking frustrates definition by appearing in countless forms; ultimately, however, it refers to all acts related to the recruitment, transport, sale or purchase of people through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of economic exploitation. Human beings are not commodities. They are not disposable. Our worth cannot be affixed to a price, and any act that does so must not be tolerated.

Yet, not only is it tolerated, but human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world; it is second most profitable after drug smuggling, and equal with illegal arms transactions. It thrives because it is invisible – subversive – and this will continue as long as most people fail to realize that it is happening all around them.

Therefore, it is the purpose of Traffick Free to first create awareness of human trafficking, and then to take tangible and active steps on all levels to see to its end. As citizens, we may not have all the answers, but we believe we are part of the solution. We act as a catalyst, igniting a synergistic movement by combining resources, skills and expertise to end the demand for trafficking and free those enslaved.

You don’t have to be a social worker or federal agent to make a difference. All you have to do is care that there are human beings who are not free, and be willing to take action on their behalf. Together we can make a world that is Traffick Free.

Key Terms

When people think about slavery, they usually think of the traditional chattel slavery that was seen in America’s past. That form does still exist in certain countries, but slavery has evolved, and now most often occurs in these forms:

  • BONDED LABOR: People become bonded laborers by taking or being tricked into taking a loan for as little as the cost of medicine for a sick child. To repay the debt, many are forced to work long hours, often all year long. They receive basic food and shelter as “payment” for their work, but many may never pay off the loan, which can be passed down for generations.
  • FORCED LABOR: People are illegally recruited by individuals, governments or political parties and forced to work, usually under the threat of violence or other penalties.
  • TRAFFICKING: The transport and/or trade of women, children and men from one area to another for the purpose of forcing them into conditions of slavery. Human trafficking ranks as the second largest criminal industry globally, second only to drug smuggling, and equal with illegal weapons transactions.

Data & Statistics

  • There are more slaves now than ever before in human history – approximately 27 million around the world
  • The cost of a slave has decreased from $40,000 in 1850, to $90 in 2008
  • It would cost $40 per family to buy all bonded laborers in the world – Americans spend this much on chocolate each Valentine’s Day
  • 17,500 slaves are brought into the United States every year
  • Slave labor is used to produce much of the goods that we buy, and it is currently very difficult to determine if that is the case
  • In 2003, The New York Times labeled Chicagoland as a national hub for trafficking – most victims are from Latin America and Asia
  • Sexual exploitation of minors is lawfully considered human trafficking approximately 325,000 children in the United States are subjected to sexual exploitation every year
  • The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry within the United States is 11-12 years old

Data and statistics on human trafficking are very limited, because the crime is largely invisible – most of these values likely underestimate actual figures. While the issue of modern slavery is global in scale, many experts believe that it can be brought to an end in 25 years – if we are able to sustain our attention on the issue.

sources:, reuters,,