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United Way Blog

With Human Trafficking on the Rise in the U.S., Congress Must Act Now

“When Taylor was 16 years old, she met some older men at the local mall. One of the men started taking Taylor on dates and buying her clothes and meals. Not long after they started dating, he coerced Taylor into sex trafficking, convincing her that if she complied, she would never need to rely on anyone ever again. At 17 years old, Taylor was forced to make at least $1,000 per day. Eventually, Taylor’s traffickers forced her to take on a different role where she was in charge of recruiting more teenagers to be exploited in commercial sex. Most of the money went to her traffickers. To keep her under their control, Taylor’s traffickers threatened her family who lived nearby.”  

– State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, 2018 

Human trafficking is a global phenomenon and victims of modern slavery, like Taylor, are exploited in every region of the world. They are compelled into service for labor or commercial sex through force, fraud or coercion.

Despite its global reach, human trafficking takes place locally— in a favorite nail salon or local restaurant; in a neighborhood home or nearby hotel; on a city street or rural farm.

According to a new groundbreaking report, human trafficking and modern slavery is more prevalent in developed countries, like the United States, than previously thought.  In fact, the new estimates show that 400,00 people are living in modern slavery in the United States right now--that’s the largest estimated number to date.

In response, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging action and says, “local communities are the most affected by this abhorrent crime and are also the first line of defense against human trafficking.” He’s calling on communities everywhere to train law enforcement, religious leaders, teachers, tribal elders, business executives and others to learn to spot the signs of human trafficking.

That is why United Way has teamed up with UPS to develop a community training program for local United Ways to teach people to spot signs of trafficking and know how to respond. To date, we have trained more than 400 individuals in 5 communities and we’re just getting started. Later this fall, we will roll-out the training nationwide.

We urge you to join us in making a difference today – on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons – by calling on your members of Congress and asking them to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which sets policy and funds all Federal efforts to combat human trafficking. While there remains strong bipartisan support on this issue, Congress has yet to pass this life-saving legislation authorizing our anti-trafficking programs.

Stand up for people like Taylor by helping us build the awareness and political will to end human trafficking and modern slavery for good.

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.