Each year approximately 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide, deprived of human rights and freedoms.[1]  Millions more are trafficked within their countries. Trafficking victims are often coerced by a trafficker, lured by the promise of a better life – higher salaries and better living conditions than they were accustomed to in their home countries.  However, once they arrive in the new country, they are stripped of any documentation they have (many of whom are smuggled in without proper paperwork) and exploited. 


Trafficking victims are physically and verbally abused and often forced to pay large sums of money for the cost of trafficking them between countries.  Victims include men, women and children who are purchased for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labor or as mail-order brides.  80% of trafficking victims are women, and 70% are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.[2]  In addition, increasing anti-immigrant sentiment has led to restrictive policies, making it more difficult for migrant workers to enter the U.S., and more likely that they will fall victim to traffickers.  Trafficking victims are often pushed into sexual or labor slavery by conditions of poverty, discrimination, and gender-based violence and are pulled by the demand of wealthy countries for cheap labor and prostitution.


Human trafficking has a devastating impact on individual victims, who often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, forced prostitution, threats against self and family, and even death.  But the impact of human trafficking goes beyond individual victims.


In 1998, as a response to the growing problem, then-President Clinton issued an executive memorandum which directed the United States government, in collaboration with other countries, to increase awareness about trafficking and increase protections for trafficking victims.  In 2000, the 106th Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (PL 106-386).  The legislation, reauthorized in 2003, “provides tools to combat trafficking in persons both worldwide and domestically.  The Act authorizes the establishment of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, headed by Ambassador John R. Miller, and the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to assist in the coordination of anti-trafficking efforts.”

[1] Human trafficking frequently involves the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, and also often involves exploitation of agricultural and sweat shop workers, as well as individuals working as domestic servants.

[2] U.S. State Department. Trafficking in Persons Report, Released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons on June 3, 2005