Why it matters?

There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other point in human history.

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry and is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world today. Annually, an estimated $9.5 billion is generated through all trafficking activities, with at least $4 billion attributed to the worldwide brothel industry.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is tied with illegal arms dealing as the second most lucrative crime globally, surpassed only by the drug trade. (1)

Trafficking of children has been documented in every region of the world. The most reliable figure regarding the prevalence of this practice is provided by the International Labour Organisation, which estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year; this estimate includes cross-border and internal trafficking. (2)

According to UNICEF, more than 2 million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.(3) The victims are often forced, deceived or coerced with the offer of good jobs, and are then subjected to some of the most horrific things imaginable, especially for a child.

Victims of trafficking suffer devastating physical and psychological harm, but due to language barriers, lack of knowledge about services, and the frequency with which traffickers move victims, law enforcement and service providers face significant challenges in helping victims and bringing traffickers to justice.

Child trafficking is a global crisis that must be stopped. More resources are critically needed to support the rescue and rehabilitation of these victims.

What is trafficking?

Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons by means of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. (4)

Exploitation comes in many forms, including: (5)

  • Forcing victims into prostitution;
  • Subjecting victims to slavery or involuntary servitude;
  • Compelling victims to commit sex acts for the purpose of creating pornography; and
  • Deceiving victims into debt bondage.

Overall, approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation, and 19% involves labour exploitation. (6)


The Trafficking of Children

  • According to the US Department of State, 50% of trafficking victims internationally are under the age of 18.
  • More than 2/3 of sex trafficked children suffer additional abuse at the hands of their traffickers.
  • One study found that 71% of trafficked children exhibit suicidal tendencies.
  • Children who are victims of trafficking are more than twice as likely to develop serious mental health problems, including clinical depression, personality disorders, and dissociative disorders.
  • Trafficked children are significantly more likely to abuse substances, engage in prostitution as adults, and either commit or be victimized by violent crime later in life.

Barriers to Seeking Services

  • Trafficking victims generally do not seek services because they fear retaliation against themselves and their families, fear deportation, do not understand the legal system, and lack knowledge of available services.
  • Because traffickers move their victims every 15 to 30 days and limit their victims’ contact with the outside world, victims generally are unable to develop social networks or gather resources to escape.
  • Due to the number of perpetrators involved in many trafficking operations, a number of victims do not know all of their perpetrators.
  • Because trafficking is often closely associated with organised crime, there are very serious security risks involved in providing shelter for trafficking victims.


  1. 2011 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.
  2. 2002 International Labor Organization Every Child Counts: New Global Estimates on Child Labor.
  3. 2010 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.
  4. 2005 Innocenti Research Centre Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation and Other Exploitative Purposes. United Nations Children’s Fund.
  5. 2003 Kangaspunta, K. Mapping the Inhumane Trade: Preliminary Findings of the Human Trafficking Database as presented to the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women.
  6. 1999 Klain, E.J. Prostitution of Children and Child-Sex Tourism: An Analysis of Domestic and International Responses National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.