January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This is an opportunity to educate the community about human trafficking, a crime that forcefully exploits women, men and children.
Human Trafficking involves transporting someone into a situation of exploitation. This can include forced labor, marriage, prostitution and organ removal. This kind of exploitation is known by a few different names, such as human trafficking, trafficking of persons, and modern slavery.
It’s estimated that internationally there are between 20 million and 40 million people in modern slavery today. Assessing the full scope of human trafficking is difficult because cases so often go undetected, something the United Nations refers to as “the hidden figure of crime.” Estimates suggest that internationally only about .04% survivors of human trafficking cases are identified, meaning that the vast majority of cases of human trafficking go undetected.
Human trafficking earns global profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, $99 billion of which comes from commercial sexual exploitation. Globally, an estimated 71% of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%. Estimates suggest that about 50,000 people are trafficked into the US each year, most often from Mexico and the Philippines.
In 2018, over half (51.6%) of the criminal human trafficking cases active in the US were sex trafficking cases involving only children. Reports indicate that a large number of child sex trafficking survivors in the US were at one time in the foster care system and/or a victim of domestic violence.
Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking. The average age someone enters the sex trade in the US is 12 to 14 years old. Many victims are runaway girls who were sexually abused as children.
Understanding this issue is the first step in stopping it. It is important to remember that people of all ages, genders, races and socioeconomic backgrounds can fall prey to human trafficking. Traffickers are operating in both rural and urban settings, in our schools, businesses and tourist areas. Trafficking cases have been reported across Illinois and no community is immune - including Huntley. The Huntley Police Department is an active member of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Taskforce to address this expansive problem throughout the county. If you have any questions, please contact local law enforcement.
Huntley Safety 1st is the monthly education series written by the staff of the Huntley Police Department. On the first of each month, we provide citizens with information on a different public safety related issue.