Modern slavery
Millions of people are trafficked annually around the worldGetty

On the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, we look at the crucial facts about human trafficking.

Modern slavery is common

Statistics surrounding human trafficking are difficult to obtain, due to the illegal and hidden nature of the crime, but these statistics show how prevalent it is. The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, of which the majority are women. Around 68% of those trafficked are trapped in forced labour, 55% are women and more than a quarter – 26% – are children. The figures could be even higher, considering trafficking is so hard to track.

Child trafficking involves many forms of exploitation

Child trafficking involved multiple types of exploitation, in which children are recruited, transported, forced to work or sold. They are trafficking to carry out forced labour in factories or agriculture, forced to do domestic work, sold for sexual exploitation and also activities such as theft.

Perpetrators often escape punishment

Prosecutions are rare because laws may not exist, or if they do, legislation may not be implemented – and victims may be reluctant to come forward. Traffickers often work in networks, making it more difficult to track individuals and bring them to justice.

According to the NSPCC, it is easier to prosecute traffickers by tackling other crimes associated with trafficking, such as kidnapping, false imprisonment and threats to kill.

It is a billion dollar industry

According to the International Labour Organisation, the human trafficking industry is worth around $150 billion. The majority of that profit – almost two-thirds – is made from sex trafficking. According to the United Nations, human trafficking is "the fasted-growing means by which people are enslaved, and it is one of the largest sources of profit for organised crime.

Myanmar, Haiti and Sudan have some of the highest rates of human trafficking

According to the UN State Department 2016 report on trafficking, these three countries have high rates of trafficking. The displacement of people following natural disasters has a key part to play in trafficking. Around 1.4 million people lost their homes and livelihoods in Hurricane Matthew, leaving women and children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.