National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is a significant day of recognition as trafficking has a long-term impact on human lives, families and households, as well as communities across the globe. Right now, there are approximately 20 to 40 million enslaved people around the world, with approximately 80% of human trafficking today involving sexual exploitation, and 19% involving labor exploitation. Women are disproportionately affected by human trafficking: the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women reports that 65% of identified trafficking victims are women and girls; 92% of detected sex trafficking victims are women and girls; and 1 in 3 women globally experience physical or sexual violence.

Today’s observance of the illegal practice was implemented to raise awareness in regards to human trafficking, aid individuals and groups in identifying common signs of the practice, and reach victims with resources and support. 

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is considered a modern form of slavery, and most commonly involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or sex. Traffickers often use violence, manipulation, and/or false promises to lure victims into trafficking situations. Under typical conditions, victims may endure physical and/or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, food and sleep deprivation, threats to family members, and greater isolation from the outside world and systems of support.

ERA Coalition partner Sanctuary for Families further describes sex trafficking as “a form of modern-day slavery involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, or of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, for purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.” It is also important to note that some individuals are more susceptible to being trafficked, such as immigrants, runaway and homeless youth, and individuals who have experienced previous violence or trauma.

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