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Human Trafficking

Definition: Human trafficking is the practice of exploiting adults and children for use as commodities, or objects in conditions of sexual and labor servitude.

Also known as “modern slavery,” human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings through recruitment or abduction, by means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of forced labor, debt bondage or sexual exploitation.


Human trafficking victims are often forced, through sexual, physical and/or psychological violence, to perform work under slavery-like conditions.

Tactics used by recruiters, traffickers and their associates are often the same tactics used by batterers and can mirror dynamics of domestic violence.

Traffickers often pose as labor recruiters. They prey on people, trick them into paying large sums of money to secure “good jobs” where victims end up trafficked and trapped under debt bondage with no documents to establish identity or legal status, no English skills, and no easy means of escape.

Regardless of immigration status, all people that work in the United States have the right to:

  1. Be treated and paid fairly
  2. A safe and healthy workplace
  3. Not be held in a job against their will
  4. Keep their passport and other identification documents in their possession
  5. Report abuse without retaliation
  6. Be free from discrimination and harassment of any kind
  7. Leave an abusive employment situation
  8. Request help from unions, immigrant and labor rights groups, and other groups

Human Trafficking Statistics

  • It is estimated that 20.9 million people are trafficked worldwide (ILO, 2012)
    • 11.4 million are women and girls
    • 9.5 million men and boys
  • Almost 19 million victims are exploited by private individuals or enterprises and over 2 million by the state or rebel groups
    • Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation
  • Forced labor in the private economy generates $150 billion in illegal profits per year
  • Domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most concerned.
  • Migrant workers and indigenous people are particularly vulnerable to forced labor

Ileana Taylor, an Anti-trafficking Advocate

Our Anti-Trafficking Program gives survivors the chance to speak to a compassionate, expert case manager like Ileana Taylor who dedicates her time to helping trafficking surviors obtain vital resources and find hope and safety.
Read about Ileana. →

Anti-Trafficking Program

Our advocates help survivors of labor and sex trafficking find personal support and legal services to help them heal, rebuild, and find justice.

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Our Impact

185 survivors of human trafficking were helped by Safe Horizon’s Anti-Trafficking Program in 2015