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Human Trafficking Awareness Day: Millions Held in Forced Labor, US Says

Jan 11, 2011 – 12:28 PM
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Torie Bosch Contributor

Today is national Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the annual calendar date meant to bring attention to the fact that human trafficking remains a serious problem both in the United States and abroad.

According to Change.org, "Slavery is more affordable, more widespread and more entrenched in 2011 than it was in ancient Rome or the antebellum South of America. Modern-day slaves, also called human trafficking victims, can be male or female, from any country or representing any ethnicity."

In the United States, human trafficking victims are forced to work in the sex trade, as domestic servants, on farms and in factories.

It's difficult to say how many people are victims of human trafficking, and estimates vary widely. What's known for sure is that human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry worldwide.

The U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking puts the number of victims at a shocking 2.5 million. According to U.N. GIFT, human trafficking affects "every continent and every type of economy."

The U.S. State Department estimates an even higher number -- about 12.3 million adults and children "in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution around the world."

The worst rates of the problem are in Asia, where the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking estimates that more than 50 percent of slavery victims are found. The State Department says that in Asia, there are three human trafficking victims for every 1,000 people -- three times the rates elsewhere.

A petition, organized by a coalition of anti-human-trafficking organizations, has called on President Barack Obama and Congress to make fighting modern-day slavery a priority. And here's a video from Not for Sale describing the horrifying statistics of modern-day slavery.



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