Jason S. Miyares
Attorney General of Virginia

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking, or ‘modern slavery' is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for the purposes of commercial sex acts or labor services through the use of force, fraud or coercion. 

The most common forms of human trafficking are labor trafficking and sex trafficking. 

  • Labor trafficking includes forced labor or involuntary servitude, bonded labor or debt bondage, and domestic servitude.  This type of trafficking can occur at homes, hotels, and small labor operations to larger operations such as factories or farms. 

  • Sex trafficking includes child sex trafficking and can occur with prostitution, escort services, brothels, and massage parlors, among others. 

As with many crimes, trafficking exists and continues because of the demand for services and the ‘low-risk/ high-reward' mentality of the perpetrators. 

While is it difficult to accurately record data about human trafficking, the United Nations estimates 2.5 million people are trafficked at any given time in over 160 countries.  Of those trafficked, more than 90% of victims experience physical or sexual violence.  Worldwide, the crime results in more than $31.6 billion in annual profits. 

Sheer numbers do not do justice to the crime.  Human trafficking deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, creates a health and safety risk, and fuels the growth of criminal enterprises and organized crime.  Because of the ‘low-risk/ high-reward' appeal of trafficking, new offenders are merging trafficking with their current criminal enterprises.  Gangs are one example of this, as they use ‘easy money' collected from trafficking victims to fund other criminal endeavors, such as drugs and guns. 

Alongside the damage to society, human trafficking also has a devastating impact on the victims, who suffer through physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, assaults, threats, identity theft, and possibly death. 


human trafficking hotline 1-888-373-7888 24 hours, 7 days a week