UW Women's Center

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking also referred to as trafficking in persons, is an umbrella term used for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service.[1]

More specifically, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 22.U.S.C. § 7102 (8), defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:

(A) Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

Major forms of human trafficking include:

  • Forced Labor
  • Sex Trafficking
  • Bride Trafficking
  • Bonded Labor
  • Debt Bondage among Migrant Laborers
  • Involuntary Domestic Servitude
  • Forced Child Labor
  • Child Soldiers
  • Child Sex Trafficking

Human Trafficking Facts and Figures[2]  

  • There are an estimated 12.3 million people imprisoned by modern day slavery around the world
  • 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit and/or destination country. Human trafficking affects every continent and every type of economy
  • Women and girls represent 98% of those subjected to forced commercial sexual exploitation
  • Women and girls represent 56% of those exploited for non-sexual labor
  • The trafficking of human beings for forced labor (commercial sexual exploitation and forced economic exploitation), is a $31.6 billion industry

To learn more about Human Trafficking and Healthcare, click here to retrieve our Fact Sheet (2017).


[1] U.S. Department of State, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. (2011). Trafficking in persons report 2011. Retrieved from website: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt

[2] International Labour Organization (ILO). (2005, April 22). Forced Labour Statistices. Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_norm/—declaration/documents/publication/wcms_decl_fs_20_en.pdf_20_en.pdf