Why Does Human Trafficking Still Exist?

February 8, 2017


By Matt Morrison
Content Editor

The statistics are staggering.  As of today, it’s estimated that over 4.5 million people are trapped in forced sexual exploitation around the globe.  20-30 million people remain enslaved while 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders for the purposes of sex or forced labor every year.  80% of them are women and over half are children.

Whether we realize it or not, slavery is not a thing of the past.  It’s a scourge on society that lurks in the shadows of cities and towns all over the world.  Each year, over $150.2 billion is generated in illegal profits from the trafficking of persons.

In remote towns and villages, traffickers commonly pose as religious leaders, successful businessmen, or long-lost relatives convincing families to give up their children in exchange for profit.  Unsuspecting parents give away their children’s paperwork expecting they will have a better life, not understanding the painful sentence they have just set over them.

But how does something like this still exist in the 21st century?  How does it go unnoticed and unpunished?  In particular, three factors continue to fuel human trafficking today.


In some societies, it’s common for families to value sons over daughters.  In parts of Ethiopia, young girls are even raised with the expectation they’ll eventually repay their families for the sacrifice of raising a woman.

This low view of women and girls in communities facilitates human traffickers offering parents money for their daughters.  The unthinkable becomes normalized and it is suddenly expected of the young girls to comply. 


While the buying and selling of human beings for any purpose is illegal, corruption often stands between the criminals and their prosecution.  According to UNICEF, only 25% of trafficking crimes are prosecuted and an even smaller fraction are convicted.  In 2014, only 4,400 convictions were made compared to the 44,000 victims identified that same year.

With little incentive to stop, traffickers continue their operations.  It’s a low risk venture with high personal rewards for the perpetrators.


 Many people assume that the daily products they purchase are produced in a fair labor market.  Unfortunately, a growing number of commodities, including cotton, bananas, rice, coffee, tea, and fashion, are produced by slave labor.  While corporations are taking extra steps to ensure fair trade throughout their distribution lines, it’s also a good idea for consumers to be mindful of where their products are sourced and which brands have a good track record.

Want to help prevent human trafficking?  Click here to learn more about Priceless expeditions aimed at raising awareness in at-risk communities around the globe.


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