People trafficking is the coercive trade of human beings to provide cheap or free labour – effectively slavery. It is happening around the world, and leaves millions of powerless people in misery.
Somewhere between 3 and 6 million people are trafficked into slavery each year. About three quarters are women or girls, and over a million are children. As a result there are about 20-30 million people living in slavery today, generally away from their families and support.
Most of these victims end up in prostitution and the sex industry generally, with many others being forced into slave labour, including begging. Some are made to fight in armed forces and a few become victims of the trade in body parts. Trafficking victims generally face slavery, debt bondage or servitude, often for life. Abuse, threats and even torture are commonly used to force compliance.
Trafficking generally preys on vulnerable people who are poor and powerless. Some are kidnapped (homeless children are especially vulnerable), others are lured away under false pretences, and some are sold by their families or given up under threat.
Changing the world
The United Nations, governments and non-profit organisations are all developing ways of combatting this menace. Actions include:
- pressing governments worldwide for stronger legislation and action against trafficking,
- aid and care for poor at-risk children,
- education of teachers, local governments and tourism operators in locations where trafficking occurs, and
- where possible, rescue and safe re-settlement of victims.
You can find more detail on the website at People shouldn’t be bought and sold, which includes references to where you can find more facts and to organisations seeking to make a difference.