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About Human

The Issue
T H E UN IT E D NAT IO NS defines trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer,
harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of
coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of
vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of
a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” Simply put,
trafficking is the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a person for profit.

HUM A N T R A F F IC K ING takes many forms, including commercial sexual exploitation, child
soldiering, debt bondage, servitude on the high seas, and involuntary domestic labor. Human
traffickers prey on the vulnerable. Their targets are often children and young women, and their
ploys are creative and ruthless, designed to trick, coerce, and win the confidence of potential
victims. Very often these ruses involve promises of a better life through marriage, employment,
or educational opportunities.


» Sexual exploitation, including pornography, prostitution, and sex tourism

» Armed conflict, as child soldiers, porters, landmine detectors, or sex slaves for combatants

» Labor, including domestic service and working in mines, factories, hotels, or restaurants

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C H IL DR E N A R E O FT EN trafficked because they or their families need to earn money, and
because they have few or no other opportunities to do so. They may migrate to find better
work, but find they cannot get a job or earn enough money. They may have paid someone to
take them across a border to find work and need to pay back a huge, inflated debt.

T R A F F IC K IN G IS A lucrative business. In 2008 alone, the International Labor Organization

estimates that traffickers earned $30 billion through their exploitation of men, women, and
children. Another motivation for traffickers is the low risk of prosecution and punishment for
the perpetrators, and the lack of policy and legal frameworks that criminalize such actions.

Types of Human Trafficking

L A BO R T R A F F IC K ING: To be defined as forced labor, an activity does not always have to
have an economic component. Most instances of forced labor occur as unscrupulous employers
take advantage of gaps in law enforcement and legal frameworks to exploit vulnerable workers.
Migrant and undocumented workers are increasingly vulnerable to the guiles of traffickers.

B O N DE D L A B O R : One form of force or coercion is the use of a bond, or debt, to keep a

person under subjugation. Many workers around the world fall victim to modern-day slavery
through debt bondage when traffickers unlawfully exploit an initial debt the worker assumed
as part of the terms of employment or when workers inherit debt in more traditional systems of
bonded labor.

INV O L UN TA RY S E RV IT UDE: People become trapped in involuntary servitude when they

believe an attempted escape from their situation would result in serious physical harm to
themselves or others, or when they are kept in a condition of servitude through the abuse or
threatened abuse of the legal processes. Victims are often economic migrants and low-skilled
laborers who are trafficked from impoverished communities to more prosperous and developed
cities. This servitude exists both within and outside their country of origin. Many victims are
physically and verbally abused, experience breach of an employment contract, and/or are held
captive (or perceive themselves to be held captive).

INV O L UN TA RY DOMEST IC SERV IT UDE: Domestic workers may be trapped in servitude

through the use of force or coercion, such as physical (including sexual) or emotional abuse.
Children are particularly vulnerable. Domestic servitude is particularly difficult to detect
because it occurs in private homes, which are often unregulated by public authorities.

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F O R C E D C H IL D L AB O R : The sale and trafficking of children and their entrapment in
bonded and forced labor are clearly the worst forms of child labor. Any child who is subjected
to involuntary servitude or debt bondage is a victim of human trafficking regardless of where
that exploitation takes place.

C H IL D S O L DIE R S : The use of children as soldiers involves the recruitment or abduction of

children, through force, fraud, or coercion, in order to exploit them as fighters, laborers, or
sex slaves in conflict areas. Government forces, paramilitary organizations, and rebel groups
alike may perpetrate such unlawful practices. Children who are abducted for use as combatants
are held against their will and forced to commit violent crimes, often against their own
communities, which makes it difficult for them to be reunited with their families even after the
violence has subsided.

S E X T R A F F IC K ING A ND PR O ST IT UT IO N: Sex trafficking involves the harboring,

transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
Sex trafficking would not exist without the demand for commercial sex that is flourishing
around the world. Prostitution and related activities—including pimping and patronizing or
maintaining brothels—encourage the growth of modern-day slavery by providing a facade
behind which traffickers for sexual exploitation operate.

C H IL D S E X T O UR ISM: Child sex tourism (CST) involves people who travel from their own
country to another for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts with children. CST is a
shameful assault on the dignity of children and a form of violent child abuse.

The Facts
» T H E UN IT ED NAT IO NS estimates there are 12.3 million people in forced labor,
bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time; other estimates
range from 4 million to 27 million.

» A N E S T IM AT ED 1.8 million children are exploited in the global sex trade worldwide.

» A C C O R DING T O U.S. government-sponsored research, approximately 800,000

people annually are trafficked across national borders. This does not include millions
trafficked within their own countries.


A P P R O XIM AT ELY 80 PER C ENT of transnational trafficking victims are women
and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.

» T H E M A J O RIT Y O F T R A NSNAT IO NA L trafficking victims are females trafficked

into commercial sexual exploitation. These numbers do not include millions of female
and male victims around the world who are trafficked within their own country’s
borders—the majority for forced or bonded labor.

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» E S T IM AT E S INDIC AT E T HAT more than 250,000 children worldwide are serving as
child soldiers.

» T H E R E A R E 218 MILLIO N child laborers ages 5 to 17 worldwide. That’s 14

percent or 1 in 7 children in this age group worldwide who are child laborers.

» AT L E A S T 1 .2 MILLIO N children are trafficked annually for child labor.

» HUM A N T RA FFIC K ING operates under the twin principles of supply and demand.
For example, the Gulf States provide the demand for boys to work as camel jockeys,
which is supplied by countries like Pakistan. Many richer countries are destinations
for trafficked people. Other countries are transit countries through which people are
trafficked to reach their destination country. Internal trafficking also occurs: usually
people are transported from rural to urban areas, often deceived by promises of
expanded opportunities for education and economic development, then forced to work
under terrible conditions for little or no pay.

» T H E N AT IONA LIT IES of trafficked people are as diverse as the world’s cultures.
Some leave developing countries, seeking to improve their lives through low-skilled jobs
in more prosperous countries. Others fall victim to forced or bonded labor in their own
countries. Women eager for a better future are susceptible to promises of jobs abroad as
babysitters, housekeepers, waitresses, or models—many of them false promises that turn
into the nightmare of prostitution without escape. Some parents hand children over to
other adults, often relatives, who promise them education and opportunity, but instead sell
the children into exploitative situations for their own profit.

(Sources: U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, 2007; UNICEF,

“Children Associated with Armed Groups,” 2006; UNICEF, The State of the World’s
Children, 2007, 2008, 2009; International Labor Organization (ILO), The End
of Child Labor: Within Reach, 2006; UNICEF, “Children Associated with Armed
Groups”; ILO, “The Cost of Coercion,” 2009)

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What Can You Do?
» S P E N D S O ME T IME exploring websites or Internet resources relating to this issue.

» P R AY F O R PEO PLE working to combat human trafficking, both those who rescue
victims from exploitative situations and those who seek to help restore them through
programs that facilitate reintegration into families and communities.

» P R AY F O R A T R A NSFO R MAT IO N in the hearts of perpetrators.

» E DUC AT E YO UR SELF about human trafficking by reading about it. Follow events in
the news. Keep your eyes open—human trafficking is happening all around us.

» J O IN A L O CA L C O A LIT IO N of professional practitioners. To find out what is

happening near you, go to:

» R A IS E AWA R ENESS. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues, and challenge your local
politicians and authorities to act—voter engagement gets results. Go to and click on “programs and events” for advocacy ideas.

» GE T IN V O LV ED in an anti-trafficking movement in your area and participate in

activities and campaigns such as events, poster campaigns, and leaflet distribution in your
neighborhood and in schools.

» E NC O UR A G E B USINESSES to combat human trafficking by becoming a responsible

consumer. Educate yourself about the labor policies of companies to ensure their products
are free from slave labor and other forms of exploitation. If possible, buy Fair Trade

» S E E K S UP P ORT ! If you suspect that someone has been trafficked, contact the local
police, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), or your local shelter.


GO T O to become a child sponsor. Simply click on the
“sponsor a child” icon.

The Scripture in this resource is from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright
© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

During the preparation of this resource, all citations, facts, figures, Internet URLs, and other cited information
were verified for accuracy. World Vision Resources has made every attempt to reference current and valid sources,
but we cannot guarantee the content of any source and we are not responsible for any changes that may have
occurred since our verification. If you find an error in, or have a question or concern about, any of the information
or sources listed within, please contact World Vision Resources.

Copyright © 2010 World Vision, Inc., P.O. Box 9716, Mail Stop 321, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716, All rights reserved.

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About World Vision
W O R L D V IS IO N is a Christian humanitarian organization
dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities
worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of
poverty and injustice. Motivated by our faith in Jesus Christ, World
Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of
God’s unconditional love for all people. We see a world where each
child experiences “fullness of life” as described in John 10:10. And we
know this can be achieved only by addressing the problems of poverty
and injustice in a holistic way. That’s how World Vision is unique:
We bring 60 years of experience in three key areas needed to help
children and families thrive: emergency relief, long-term development,
and advocacy. And we bring all of our skills across many areas of
expertise to each community we work in, enabling us to care for
children’s physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Partnering with World Vision provides tangible ways to honor

God and put faith into action. By working, we can make a lasting
difference in the lives of children and families who are struggling to
overcome poverty. To find out more about how you can help, visit

About World Vision Resources

E NDING GL O B A L PO V ERT Y and injustice begins with education:
understanding the magnitude and causes of poverty, its impact on
human dignity, and our connection to those in need around the world.

World Vision Resources is the publishing ministry of World Vision.

World Vision Resources educates Christians about global poverty,
inspires them to respond, and equips them with innovative resources
to make a difference in the world.

For more information about our

resources, contact:
World Vision Resources
Mail Stop 321
P.O. Box 9716
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716
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