Modern Day Slavery in Our Own Backyard


Trafficking in persons is one of the fastest growing areas of international criminal activity. Each year an estimated 600,000 – 800,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world’s borders. Approximately 2.5 million men, women and children are victims of trafficking at any point in time throughout the world. Approximately 14,500 – 17,500 individuals are trafficked annually into the United States, making the United States the third largest destination country in the world for victims of human trafficking.

In order to fight trafficking in the United States effectively, legislation at the state level, in addition to the federal anti-trafficking laws, is critical. Although many states have laws addressing kidnapping and prostitution and many state constitutions and laws address the issue of slavery, it is important that each state have legislation specifically addressing human trafficking. Thirteen states have already enacted anti-trafficking legislation and thirteen states have pending legislation. Thus, more than half of the states have taken action or are taking action in this area since the State of Washington became the first state to enact legislation in 2003. Many more states have acknowledged the need for legislation at the state level. Once the legislation is in place, the focus must be on education and training of law enforcement, non-governmental agencies, and the public, and on the facilitation of collaboration across agencies.


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Human Rights Law | Immigration Law | International Law | Law and Gender

Date of this Version

September 2005