Children learn in school that slavery in America was abolished in 1865. But the dark truth is that people are still sold and exploited for labor and for sex in this country every day.
While there are no official estimates as to the number of human trafficking victims in the U.S., the National Human Trafficking Hotline has already received over 31,000 phone calls, online tips or emails this year. Over 40,000 cases of trafficking have been reported to the hotline since 2007.
Trafficked in two different states as a child and teenager, Tina Kadolph is all too familiar with this image of sex trafficking in the U.S.
“I always felt alone and scared,” Kadolph said.
Some victims are lured into the industry by promises of legitimate jobs or relationships. Others, like Kadolph, are victims of familial trafficking, in which they are exploited by a trusted family member and may not even know they are being trafficked, making it harder to break free.
“It happens with trafficked girls today that people will always say, ‘Why don’t they just run away? Why don’t they just run away and get away from their trafficker?’” Kadolph said. “They won’t because of the mental attachment and the manipulation that happens.”
But human trafficking is a problem that reaches beyond America’s borders. It is a global industry in which victims are taken in and out of countries all around the world.
The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally. Seventy-five percent are women and girls.