Human trafficking, and specifically child sex trafficking, is an issue that is rarely discussed but nonetheless running rampant in our world today. Trafficking is not confined to certain geographical locations, but rather connections are made all over the world to import and export children and are often used as a form of currency.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline, hosted by Polaris Project and Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, has received thousands of phone calls and text messages since it’s inception in early 2013 to report suspected human trafficking as well as having been used by victims themselves to receive help.
The Polaris Project website defines human trafficking as: “the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into providing commercial sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.” Polaris lists itself as a 501-C nonprofit organization.
In the most recent report by Polaris, statistics are provided from the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline from 2017 and show that of the 10,600 labor and sex trafficking survivors reported to the hotline in 2017, more than 7,200 of said cases are classified as sex trafficking.
Polaris identifies all cases of human trafficking as belonging to one of two general categories: labor trafficking and sex trafficking. From these two categories, Polaris created a classification system of criminal operations that make up 25 distinct businesses. Each of which has its own “business model, trafficker profiles, recruitment strategies, victim profiles, and methods of control that facilitate human trafficking.”
“Polaris analyzed more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking documented between December 2007 and December 2016 through its operation of the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline.” In this time frame, Polaris’ hotlines received 32,208 cases of potential human trafficking with 10,085 of such cases consisting of labor exploitation in the United States.
The 25 distinct businesses under labor trafficking and sex trafficking as defined by Polaris are as follows:
- Escort Services
- Illicit Massage, Health & Beauty
- Outdoor Solicitation
- Domestic Work
- Bars, Strip Clubs & Cantinas
- Traveling Sales Crews
- Restaurants & Food Service
- Peddling & Begging
- Agriculture & Animal Husbandry
- Personal Sexual Servitude
- Health & Beauty Services
- Hotels & Hospitality
- Illicit Activities
- Arts & Entertainment
- Commercial Cleaning Services
- Factories & Manufacturing
- Remote Interactive Sexual Acts
- Forestry & Logging
- Health Care
- Recreational Facilities
According to the International Labour Organization, at any given time in 2016, an estimated 40.3 million people were in modern slavery, which includes 24.9 million in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage. Read the full report here: https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575479.pdf
In 2017, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that of the nearly 25,000 reported to NCMEC, 1 in 7 endangered runaways were likely sex trafficking victims. What is even more shocking is that of those, 88% were in the care of social services when they went missing.
The demand for trafficked persons is astonishing. It’s the world’s dirtiest little secret and one that shows very little sign of slowing down.
To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text “help” to BeFree (233733).