In 1888 it all finished, right? After the transportation of approximately 12 million Africans to the Americas, Brazil was the last country to finally outlaw slavery. That was the end of official, legal slavery, sure. But, boy, has it flourished ever since, and it’s still thriving today. In a big way.
Are we talking about the stereotypical notion of Asian sex workers arriving by container in the west? That’s certainly happening, but, according to the Bureau of Statistics, for example, 83% of sex trafficking victims in the US are American citizens. Women – and men, too – are sold around the world for between £500 and £8000 in what has become a billion dollar industry.
Human trafficking for sex, however, is perhaps something you’re already dimly, if uncomfortably, aware of. Sickened by, but at least cognisant of. Unfortunately, modern-day slavery doesn’t stop there. People are trafficked for indentured labour, too. And even for their organs. FOR THEIR ORGANS. And this is happening right now in 2014.
Human Trafficking Statistics
You might want to know a few numbers – garnered from the Polaris Project – to give you an idea of just how big this issue is.
According to research there, 161 countries worldwide have been identified as affected by trafficking; an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year; and an estimated 1 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade every year. As a father myself, that last statistic makes me cry.
But matters aren’t completely helpless. Awareness is key. Does the accompanying adult seem to know the child on your flight? This is one of many signs to look out for, and there are 24-hour country-specific helplines to call if you are suspicious somebody is travelling against his or her will.
Fortunately, there is now an opportunity to highlight this heinous issue, if national media get involved. My Guinness World Record attempt in travel on April 15th aims to bring awareness of human trafficking to a wider audience. Let’s hope together, through being informed, we can combat this.