The truth is, it’s hard to accurately capture the statistics of human trafficking, as this is an underground criminal industry. Traffickers are skilled in mind games, and often victims do not even realize they are caught in human trafficking. Traffickers also use violence, intimidation, bondage, and threats as a way to keep victims and survivors from telling their story.
Below are statistics from credible organizations around the world as well as right here in Iowa, doing the best they can to report what is happening.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Midwest Statistics
Iowa Public Radio and the National Human Trafficking Hotline have reported on several statistics about our state including:
- The number of identified human trafficking victims is on the rise in Iowa.
- Multiple area police departments, hospitals, churches, schools, and community organizations have reported serving human trafficking victims in the Cedar Rapids area.
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline received 221 calls from Iowa alone in 2021 and 86 Iowa-based human trafficking cases.
- Of the cases reported to the Human Trafficking Hotline for Iowa, half are reports from minors.
- One out of every 3 teenagers on the streets, as well as runaways, are approached for commercial sexual exploitation within 48 hours. However, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office states the experience in Iowa is closer to 36 hours.
- In one study, 74% of victims of human trafficking said they were in the foster care system. Today, there are around 415,000 children in the foster care system in the United States, with more than 615 referrals made in the Cedar Rapids area over the last year.
- Creighton University did a study on Backpage.com prior to its takedown (published February, 2017), and discovered 1350 unique individuals advertised for sale for sex online every month in Iowa. Experts estimate that between 18-70% of those individuals were victims of Human Trafficking.
Sources of Iowa statistics:
- Iowa Public Radio: Human Trafficking in Iowa, 2017
- Human Trafficking Hotline – Iowa, 2021.
- Creighton University Magazine, Summer 2017
United States Statistics
In the United States, organizations such Hope for Justice and the U.S. Department of Human Resources do all they can to keep a finger on the pulse of human trafficking and how to fight it within our borders. Some of their statistics are below:
- Human trafficking in the United States has been reported in all 50 states.
- In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 86% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
- Hope for Justice has reportedly rescued hundreds of victims of human trafficking, ranging in ages from one-year-old to 63-years-old.
- The U.S. Justice Department estimates that 14,500–17,500 people are trafficked into the country every year.
- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimated that between 240,000 and 325,000 children (US citizens) are at risk for sexual exploitation each year.
- According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, in addition to domestic sex trafficking, American minors and adults are likely trafficked for forced labor; however, children are generally preferred to adults in the labor world as they are more easily controlled, cheaper, and less likely to demand better working conditions.
Sources for United States statistics:
- Hope for Justice – Modern Slavery, accessed 2018.
- Human Rights First: What the U.S. can do to continue fighting human trafficking in 2018
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Human Trafficking into and Within the United States: A Review of the Literature
Around the world, organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations keep a close eye on data to help combat human trafficking:
- As of 2021, the ILO estimates there are over 49.6 million people trafficked worldwide.
- Of the estimated 49.6 million in human trafficking:
- 27.6 million (56%) of them are trapped in forced labor.
- 6.3 million are in forced commercial sexual exploitation.
- 1 in 4 are children.
- 80% are women and girls.
- Unfortunately, the number of people in modern slavery has risen significantly in the last five years. In 2021, 10 million more people were in modern slavery compared to 2016 global estimates.
- The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
- Out of the 27.6 million people trapped in forced labor, 17.3 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 6.3 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 3.9 million persons in forced labor imposed by state authorities.
- 52 percent of people recruiting victims are men, 42% are women, and 6% are both men and women working together.
- The average life expectancy once trafficked is 7-years.
- The average cost of a human slave (trafficked victim) worldwide is $90.
Sources of worldwide statistics:
- Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, Geneva, September 2021.
- International Labour Organization: Statistics on forced labor, modern slavery and human trafficking, 2022.
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2020.
- United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, 2007.