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June 2017Vol. 18, No. 4Industries, Services Most Commonly Implicated in Human Trafficking

A new report that examines 25 distinct industries and services most commonly implicated in human trafficking cases seeks to expand the understanding and recognition of modern slavery. The report is the product of the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, that is dedicated to eradicating modern slavery by exposing human-trafficking networks, their perpetrators, and their victims.

The March 2017 report, The Typology of Modern Slavery: Defining Sex and Labor Trafficking in the United States, is the result of data collected by the Polaris Project from 32,000 documented cases of human trafficking between December 2007 and December 2016. Polaris collected the data through its operation of the BeFree Textline and the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The report represents the largest data set on human trafficking ever compiled and analyzed. It accounts for victim gender and nationality as well as whether the victims were adults or minors. Children and youth are vulnerable to human trafficking, making this report a valuable resource for parents, caregivers, and those working in child welfare.

The 25 types of trafficking outlined in the report represent diverse domains, including health care, forestry and logging, landscaping, hotels and hospitality, carnivals, escort services, and commercial cleaning services. The report emphasizes that there are many ways for individuals to be exploited and explains that each type of human trafficking has its own business model, unique recruitment strategies, victim profiles, and methods of control that facilitate the crime.

The report points out that only 16 percent of the reported trafficking cases involved labor trafficking and that the National Human Trafficking Hotline and BeFree Textline received fewer calls about labor trafficking than sex trafficking. The report also emphasizes that, globally, forced labor is thought to be more prevalent than sex trafficking. The authors contend that labor-trafficking cases are underreported in the United States due to a lack of awareness and a fundamental misunderstanding of the significant vulnerability of workers in many U.S. labor sectors.

The Typology of Modern Slavery: Defining Sex and Labor Trafficking in the United States is available at (4,700 KB).