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Human trafficking and sexual exploitation:  the statistics behind the stories

The stories of those who have survived human trafficking and sexual exploitation are the driving force behind our World Without Exploitation​ efforts.​ But statistics also inspire our movement, providing us with a number-based sense of the scope and scale of the problem. What follows is a curated summation of some of the most reliable research available. We hope that the studies summarized below cause you to think, feel, and act on behalf of those who have been trafficked or exploited.

Human trafficking & sexual exploitation in the US

Not just global, but local

Trafficked and prostituted youth

Too vulnerable, too soon

Violence in the sex trade

Risky "business"

Foster care, homelessness and exploitation

Seeking safe haven


Commercial sex trafficking


Labor trafficking

965 cases of human trafficking were reported to state law enforcement agencies in 2015. Of these cases, 77% involved commercial sex trafficking and 22% involved labor trafficking. (1)


A recent study found that more than 30% of unauthorized migrant laborers in San Diego County were victims of trafficking violations, most inflicted by employers at the workplace - not smugglers. (3)


potential human trafficking cases were reported by the public to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline between December of 2007 and December 31, 2016. (2)

In 2014, 580 children under 18 were arrested for “prostitution.” 

75 children under 15 were arrested for “prostitution” that same year. (1)

A 2005 survey of over 2500 law enforcement agencies found that 1,450 juveniles were arrested for prostitution-related offenses. (2)

A 2015 study estimated 14 to be the average age of entry for girls in the sex trade. (3) For many children in another study, the age of first exploitation was 11 or younger. (4)


of prostituted children in one New York study report having been victims of child abuse and neglect. (5)

Nearly all (92.2%) trafficked women in one study report being subjected to physical violence, such as being shot, strangled, burned, beaten, stabbed, or punched. Many are victims of multiple forms of violence. Respondents reported an average of 6.25 of the 12 forms of violence. (1)


report suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


had attempted suicide at least once


of sex buyers in a Chicago study believe that if a man pays for sex, the woman should do anything they ask. (2)


of young prostituted women in a Chicago study reported being raped by pimps or buyers. (3)


of Ohio women first sold under the age of 18 had been victims of customer-related or pimp-related violence and had been to the emergency room at least once as a result. (4)


Workplace homicide rates for women in prostitution, according to one study with a small sample, are 51 times higher than the next most dangerous occupation for women. (5)


of the child sex trafficking victims recovered as part of an FBI 70 city raid were children from foster care or group homes. (1)


of juveniles involved in the sex trade in Ohio had run away from home at least once, according to research done in 2012. (2)


of homeless young adults interviewed for a study done in three Midwestern cities have sold sex. And 32% had a friend who’d done so. (3)