Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime isn’t just about crossing borders and forced labor, it’s a growing epidemic that consumes a hidden figure between 20 million and 40 million people worldwide. It is so common, and many of the victims go unnoticed. The harsh reality is, it is very likely that we have all encountered a victim at some point and just didn’t notice.    

According to the Government of Canada, human trafficking involves recruiting, transporting, or holding victims to exploit them or to help someone else exploit them, generally for sexual purposes or work. Traffickers get their victims to comply through different forms of coercion including threats, manipulation, withholding documents, shaming and more.  

Although human trafficking can appear in many forms, they all share the same factor which is abuse they bestow upon others to make their victims feel vulnerable: 

  • Trafficking for forced labour: Victims are recruited and trafficked through deceit and find themselves working in conditions of slavery.  
  • Trafficking for forced criminal activities: Victims are forced to carry out illegal activities on behalf of criminals, so that they may avoid the risk. 
  • Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation: Vulnerable women and children are lured into leaving their home with promises of opportunity somewhere else. Rather, they find themselves forced into sexual exploitation, fear and poor living conditions.  
  • Trafficking for the removal of organs: As transplant wait lists are very common, criminals use this as an opportunity to exploit the desperation of patients. They carry out operations that are often done in poor conditions and with no medical follow-up, putting their victims’ lives at risk.    

While we would like to think that slavery was a thing of the past, we all know it isn’t, in fact it is hidden in plain sight. This awareness month is a powerful reminder to work together in order to end human trafficking and raise awareness of the issue.  

Quick Facts 

  • As of 2014, at least 120 million girls under the age of 20 – about one in 10 – have been forced to engage in sex or perform other sexual acts 
  • Human trafficking is the second-largest organized crime in the world 
  • Every 2 minutes a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation  
  • The majority of children are recruited into sexual exploitation by a family member or friend 
  • Studies indicate that sexually exploited children serve between two and thirty clients per week, leading to an estimated base of anywhere between 100 to 1500 clients per year, per child 
  • The average trafficked victim is 11-13 years old 
  • The global economic impacts and costs resulting from the consequences of physical, psychological and sexual violence against children could be as high as $7 trillion 

What can You do? 

One child falling victim is one child too many. Educate yourself and others on the warning signs and luring practices of human trafficking, create conversation and advocate those who have been exploited, support ethical business practices and always reach out for help if you suspect this is happening to someone. All it takes is one person to report suspicious behaviour to prevent someone from being trafficked.  

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