Calls to U.S. trafficking hotline rise 26 percent led by sex victims

Tue Feb 3, 2015 2:32pm EST
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By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A human trafficking hotline in the United States reported a 26 percent increase in calls last year with the vast majority from victims of the sex trade, a leading anti-trafficking organization said on Tuesday.

More than 5,000 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2014 to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline operated by the non-profit Polaris which attributed partly the rise to greater awareness about people living as slaves.

Of these the majority, 71 percent, related to sex trafficking while 16 percent were about labor trafficking and 4 percent involved both. Nine percent of trafficking cases were not identified.

In addition another 125 cases of human trafficking, again largely sex cases, were reported to a texting helpline run by Polaris which fights human trafficking in the United States.

"Behind the data are the stories of thousands of women, men, and children in each and every state who were exploited against their will," Polaris Chief Executive Bradley Myles said in a statement.

"This information also helps us learn crucial trends we can use to shut down traffickers and their networks."

The figures come amid growing awareness about modern-day slavery with a global index from Australian human rights group Walk Free Foundation estimating about 36 million people are living as slaves in a business worth about $150 billion a year.

An analysis of 19,724 calls received since Polaris started the hotline seven years ago found the top three sex trafficking venues in the United States are commercial front brothels, Internet ad-based trafficking, and sex trafficking at hotels and motels.   Continued...