Many of us who are privileged enough to live in the developed world think of human trafficking as a thing of the past, a relic that exists only in movies. Unfortunately, the reality is that human trafficking is still among the most common and brutal crimes in the world and the second largest criminal industry on Earth, bringing in billions in revenue every year.
As with any illegal, underground activity, statistics on human trafficking aren't readily available, but according to the U.S. Department of State's 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report, estimates vary from 4 to 27 million people in modern-day slavery and sex work around the world. Many of these are children, about 1 million of whom are exploited for the global commercial sex trade every year.
But hope is not lost, and charities around the world are working every day to put an end to this practice. In fact, the Denver-based Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking has recently received a $1 million grant from the Embrey Family Foundation to help it pilot a national study of promising practices in the anti-human trafficking field, the Denver Business News reports.
"Currently, no national campaign exists to guide states, cities, and communities in addressing human trafficking," said LCHT executive director Amanda Finger. "We believe Colorado is an ideal place to pilot this ambitious project. Not only is it a source, transit and destination state for human trafficking, it also has a vibrant anti-trafficking movement."
Using funds from the grant, the Colorado Project to Comprehensively Combat Human Trafficking will document successful strategies to prevent human trafficking, protect survivors, punish traffickers and build partnerships among other charities working toward the same goals. LCHT will conduct its research in collaboration with statewide leaders from multiple fields, including Dr. Annjanette Alejano-Steele, a professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver; the Denver Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Denver attorney and anti-trafficking advocate Patricia Medige; and Lauren Croucher, Human Trafficking Project Director with the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance.
It has been a decade since the U.S. passed federal legislation to combat human trafficking, but the crime persists. However, thanks to the generosity of the Embrey Family Foundation and the work of groups like the LCHT, human trafficking may soon be ended.