Human Trafficking Fact Sheet
But this is a people robbed and plundered, all of them are trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become a prey with no one to rescue, a spoil with no one to say, “Restore!” Who among you will give heed to this, who will attend and listen for the time to come?
—Isaiah 42:22-23 (NRSV)
Human trafficking is a crime. United Methodist Women from across the nation have joined this sacred mission by taking a stand to prevent, protect and prosecute those impacted by this trade in human beings that occurs everywhere in the world. Through education, partnership and action, United Methodist Women are working with faith representatives, elected officials and other community groups to build awareness and ignite flames of hope for those who are trafficked.
—Susie Johnson, Women’s Division Washington Office of Public Policy
What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, and is the second largest criminal industry in the world after drug trade. The United Nations (U.N.) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines human trafficking as the recruiting, transporting and harboring of persons by use of threat, force or deception for the purpose of exploitation. Traffickers take advantage of vulnerable persons with false promises or physical abduction, forcing them into contract slavery, forced labor and sexual trafficking.
According the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2010, the number of adults and children currently in forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution is 12.3 million. Worldwide, 1.8 per 1,000 persons is a victim of human trafficking, increasing to 3 persons per 1,000 in Asia and the Pacific. Sixty-two countries have yet to convict a trafficker under the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, and 104 countries have yet to establish laws or regulations regarding human trafficking.
Why it happens
Our current global economic system continues to reward wealth and exploit the poor. Sexual trafficking is connected to the feminization of poverty. Seventy percent of the world’s poor are women and girls, most of whom live in developing countries with limited options available to them. Women comprise 56 percent of the 12.3 million trafficked adults and children according to the Trafficking in Persons Report.
Where can victims be found?
Male and female victims of human trafficking can be found in all types of establishments and locations, in rural, suburban and urban settings in the United States and worldwide. You’ll find victims on the streets, in houses, in trailers and on farms. Victims of human trafficking can be landscaping and agricultural workers, panhandlers, day laborers, factory and sweatshop workers, hotel workers, and housekeepers. Victims are exploited by the service industries in restaurants, bars, strip clubs, nail salons, and similar businesses. You’ll find many victims on “adult services” Internet sites; the commercial sex industry relies heavily on human trafficking victims. Prostitutes, strippers, escorts, and workers in massage parlors, brothels and for phone chat lines are often victims. Right now traffickers in many American cities are exploiting workers and sexually abusing women and girls.
The 2008 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church ¶161 states that United Methodists “deplore all forms of the commercialization and exploitation of sex, with their consequent cheapening and degradation of human personality. To lose freedom and be sold by someone else for sexual purposes is a form of slavery, and we denounce such business and support the abused and their right to freedom. We call for strict global enforcement of laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation or use of children by adults and encourage efforts to hold perpetrators legally and financially responsible. (p. 104)
The 2008 Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church Resolution 6023, titled “Abolition of Sex Trafficking,” declares, “Therefore, The United Methodist Church, through education, financial resources, publication, lobbying, and the use of every relevant gift of God, shall join in the active battle against the modern-day enslavement of humans for commercial sexual exploitation.”
Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
—Psalm 82:3-4 (NRSV)
How to spot human trafficking
- Victims of human trafficking often live on or near their work premises, often with a large number of occupants in a small space. Bouncers, guards, guard dogs or barbed wire may be present. Many victims live in isolated areas.
- Victims lack of private space, personal possessions and financial records and are kept under surveillance or are escorted by an employer when they are out in the community. The trafficker may act as a translator.
- The victim may be branded or have other scarring indicating ownership. Victims are often malnourished and may show signs of rape, sexual and physical abuse, posttraumatic stress and poor psychological health, and have sexually transmitted diseases or other untreated medical problems.
- Brothels often contain barred windows, locked doors and electronic surveillance. Women do not leave the house unescorted, and men come and go frequently. Large amounts of cash and condoms are usually present, as is a customer receipt book.
- For more information on how to spot trafficking, visit the Los Angeles Metro Task Force on Human Trafficking.
How you can help
United Methodist Women all over the country can join together to stop modern-day slavery.
- Your unit can host an education forum to help educate others on the realities of human trafficking. Call the United Methodist Women Washington Office of Public Policy at 202-488-5660 to identify a program facilitator. Invite local law enforcement agencies, friends and other faith-based and humanitarian groups to your program.
- Contact your local law enforcement agency about human trafficking in your community. How does your local agency prevent and prosecute trafficking? How can you help?
- Watch for signs of trafficking. Be aware, and report possible trafficking to local authorities and the U.S. Department of Justice 1-888-428-7581.
- Share the signs of human trafficking with youth groups and other groups in your church and community.
- Create a community task force.
- Buy fair trade. Know where the products you buy come from and how they are made.
- Support education and business opportunities for women and girls.
- The United Methodist Women website provides many tools for your use, including human trafficking Bible studies, action alerts and a PowerPoint presentation as well as downloadable fliers and materials from its Intercept Human Trafficking campaign.
- Nationwide you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
For more ways to help, visit
United Methodist Women: www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/act