Human trafficking remains a staggering problem in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to provide labor or commercial sex to survive, according to a new report.
According to the report released Thursday by the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery, more than 9,000 cases of potential human trafficking were recorded in the US between 2007 and 2012. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), a program of Polaris Project, has experienced a 259 percent increase in calls reporting trafficking cases since 2008. The NHTRC received reports of 9,298 unique cases of human trafficking. Of those cases, 64 percent involved sex trafficking, 22 percent involved labor trafficking and nearly 3 percent involved both sex and labor trafficking. An additional 12 percent were unspecified. “With hundreds of thousands of people forced to provide labor or commercial sex right here in the US, we are fundamentally working to preserve and restore freedom to exploited men, women, and children,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project. Many Americans assume human trafficking is a third-world issue while a largely silent population of people in the US is being exploited, Myles said. More than 42 percent of reported sex trafficking cases were pimp-controlled prostitution, the most commonly referenced form of sex trafficking, occurring mostly in places like hotels, truck stops and street corners. According to the FBI, the average age for a girl getting involved in sexual exploitation is 12 to 14, and that some 293,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking.