If immediate response is needed, call 911. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocate.

Author: Chanel Foster, Gateway Alliance against Human Trafficking (GAHT) Volunteer

Editor: Jatonya Clayborn, Program Director

In the world of human trafficking, the United States remains one of many representations of hunting stages for the illegal exploitation of humans. Consistent with universal trends involving this form of abuse, women and girls bear a disproportionate burden of suffering in comparison to their male counterparts. Despite advancements in gender equality and human rights, the harsh reality remains that women and girls are among the most vulnerable targets of this form of modern-slavery.

From the streets of urban cities to quiet suburbia, the reach of human trafficking spares no demographic. Although boys and men also fall victim to human trafficking, statistics reveal a significant prevalence among women and girls. A report published in 2021 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime highlights that, of every 10 victims identified globally, five are adult women and two are girls. This revelation underscores the unequivocal impact of trafficking on females, particularly in the context of commercial sexual exploitation, and including labor trafficking.

Uniform with global trends, human trafficking in the United States directly impacts women and girls through a multitude of long-lasting consequences. Human trafficking can subject women and girls to severe physical and psychological trauma, often involving violence, coercion, and exploitation. Furthermore, women and girls who are trafficked can experience the constant threat of abuse, rape, and forced drug misuse, leading to profound physical and emotional scars and mental health challenges that have the potential to be life-threatening.

Human trafficking strips women and girls of their autonomy and dignity, robbing them of their fundamental rights and freedoms. They are often coerced into performing degrading acts and are deprived of the ability to make decisions about their own bodies and lives. This loss of choice, voice and free will perpetuates a cycle of victimization and powerlessness, trapping these women and girls in a state of everlasting vulnerability.

This form of modern-slavery capitalizes off of the disadvantages society has created for marginalized communities to include gender inequalities. Immigrants, refugees, and minorities are particularly susceptible to exploitation due to factors that include socioeconomic status, language barriers, and lack of access to support services. These disenfranchisements encourage cycles of poverty and social exclusion, increasing the opportunity for exploitation and hindering the ability to break free from the grips of trafficking.

As we confront the harsh realities of exploitation and injustice, let us not turn a blind eye but instead, take decisive action. Together, we can be the voices of change for these women and girls, advocating for stronger protections, liberating victims, supporting survivors, and dismantling the systems of oppression that enable human trafficking to thrive. Let us stand in solidarity, united in our commitment to safeguarding the inherent dignity and rights of every woman and girl, ensuring that they are free to live lives of safety, autonomy, and empowerment. The time for action is now!

Works Cited

Cepeda, P. (2020, July 30). A gendered crime: Human trafficking’s impact on women. Women Political Leaders. https://www.womenpoliticalleaders.org/a-gendered-crime-human-traffickings-impact-on-women/

 ECPAT. (2022, May 11). How does trafficking affect women, girls, and    children?https://ecpat.org/story/international-women-and-girls-series-5-how-does-trafficking-affect-women-girls-and-children/

 Novotney, A. (2017, August 18). 7 in 10 human trafficking victims are women and girls. What are the psychological effects? https://www.apa.org/topics/women-girls/trafficking-women-girls

United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime. (2021, January). Global Report On Trafficking In Persons 2020. Vienna.