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What is Human Trafficking?

The United States' Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) describes human trafficking using a number of different terms: involuntary servitude, slavery, debt bondage, and forced labor. Under the TVPA, individuals may be trafficking victims regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude. At the heart of human trafficking are the myriad forms of enslavement—not the activities involved in international transportation.

Human Trafficking by the Numbers

  • 12.3 million
    Adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor, and forced prostitution around the world
  • 4,166
    Successful trafficking prosecutions in 2009
  • 335
    Successful prosecutions related to forced labor
  • 49,105
    Victims identified
  • 0.4
    Ratio of victims identified to estimated victims, as a percentage
  • 104
    Countries without laws, policies, or regulations to prevent victims' deportation

Source: U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010


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