In 2011 President Barrack Obama declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to raise awareness for those held in compelled service. The hope is also to help recognize people, organizations, and government entities that work to combat human trafficking, or any kind of slavery or, in other words, “compelled service.” In recent years, the public has become much better informed about the existence of the child sex trade. But how much do you really know about this urgent human rights issue?
Statistics You Probably Didn’t Know About Human Trafficking
- Once girls enter the sex industry, their average life expectancy is seven years, with homicide and AIDS being the top killers. Victims are often drugged, tortured, and neglected to the point of starvation.
- By some estimates, as many as 27 million adults and 13 million children are currently enslaved around the world — more slavery than ever in the history of the world. This “hidden” problem is larger than many of us can imagine.
- It is estimated that there are 100,000 children in the sex trade in the United States each year. On average, two children are sold every minute.
- The Justice Department has estimated that nearly 450,000 children run away from home each year, and that one-third of teens who end up living on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home.
- The FBI says it has rescued 2,700 children since 2003 under its “Innocence Lost” initiative. It has partnered with the the non-profit group the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in its work.
- An estimated 30,000 victims of sex trafficking die each year from abuse, disease, torture, and neglect. Eighty percent of those sold into sexual slavery are under 24, and some are as young as six years old.
- Over 50% of human trafficking victims are children.
- According to a 2009 Washington Times article, the Taliban bought children as young as seven years old to act as suicide bombers. The price for child suicide bombers was between $7,000-$14,000.
- UNICEF estimates that 300,000 children younger than 18 are currently trafficked to serve in armed conflicts worldwide.
- While the majority of human trafficking is for sex — and a great deal for labor — people are also trafficked for organ harvesting.
The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)—the principal federal statute addressing human trafficking-related issues—treats those coerced into participating in commercial sex activities as victims, even if they have engaged in criminal activity. Those forced into prostitution can come forward without being jailed for crimes they were coerced into committing.
To learn about how to combat human trafficking, visit the Polaris Project‘s website.