Human trafficking is our modern day slavery and it is affecting vulnerable men, women, and children around the world. According to the International Labour Organization, human trafficking is approximately a $150 billion industry- the second most lucrative black market, second to only the illegal drug trade (Human Rights First, 2017). With an estimated 30.3 million adults and 10 million children being trafficked just in 2016, human trafficking demands the attention of individuals at all levels of society (International Labour Organization, 2017).
International law enforcement and human rights agencies have identified four major categories of human trafficking: labor trafficking; sex trafficking; organ, tissue, cell (OTC) trafficking; and trafficking for criminal activity (people smuggling). While adults account for the majority of each of these four categories, children are becoming increasingly victimized in the forced labor and commercial sex trade.
Human trafficking, in each of its forms, capitalizes on poverty, exploitation, psychological trauma, and profit. For this reason, it is critically important that human trafficking be understood as a uniquely complex form of organized crime that thrives off of systematic inequalities and failures and therefore, requires a much more holistic and intensive analysis.
Particularly with respect to trafficking in minors, we must work to understand how and why these minors were contacted by traffickers because it is often a different narrative than that of adult victims. While effectively combating human trafficking in persons requires collective action and a multi-dimensional approach, it starts with education on the topic.