While sex slavery is certainly more prevalent in other countries, we can’t overlook what is happening in our own cities and states. We can help these women and children, though, by knowing the signs to look for.
The Story: A recent report highlights the cities and states within the United States in which human trafficking is most reported.
The Background: Modern-day slavery, also referred to as “trafficking in persons,” or “human trafficking,” describes the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Trafficking in persons is estimated to be one of the top-grossing criminal industries in the world (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking), with traffickers profiting an estimated $32 billion every year.
Because the crime is kept out of sight no one knows for sure the extent of trafficking in America. But we can gain a better understanding of the crime by measuring the “signals”—phone calls, emails, and online tip reports—received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which maintains one of the most extensive data sets on the issue of human trafficking in the United States. From 2007 to 2018, the Hotline received 195,215 signals representing 45,308 “cases” (i.e., distinct situations of trafficking).
Their report finds that on a per capita basis (cases per 100,000 people), Washington, D.C., (6.1) and Nevada (5.6) have the most reports of human trafficking in the nation. In each of those states, trafficking reports are more than five-times more likely than in states like Wisconsin (1.1) and Utah (1.1). Even larger states like California (1.9), Florida (1.7), and New York (1.1) had fewer reported cases than D.C. and Nevada.
The report also shows the total number of cases from 2007 to 2016 per capita among the 100 largest cities in America. The top five cities in America for human trafficking reports are Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, and Las Vegas. Almost all of the top 25 cities for human trafficking prevalence are large metropolises, and many are major tourist destinations and/or have international airports. The exception is New York City, which has the twenty-second-lowest rate of human trafficking in the country. Cities where human trafficking is less common tend to be smaller cities.