Photo: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department

Last night on CNN I watched a series of programs on human trafficking, a subject I’ve studied and posted about before.

Simply put, human trafficking is slavery. Most slaves are children and women who are poor and vulnerable, but the victims of human trafficking can be anyone, regardless of class, location, age, gender or ethnicity.

The illegal trade of human beings is a widespread, multibillion-dollar industry that most people know nothing or next to nothing about. Yet there are now more slaves than at any time in the history of the world. Human trafficking has insidiously inserted itself into the global economy. It is likely that everyone reading this will have products in their homes, which have been manufactured using slave labor.

And then there is the unspeakably brutal industry of sex slavery, fueled and controlled by cruelty and money in the form of prostitution and sex tourism. For example, in South East Asian countries like Cambodia and the Philippines, Western tourists flock to buy sex from women and children who are abused and kept as slaves by local criminal gangs.

But slavery is everywhere.

Stories about human trafficking are often set in far-away places, like cities in Cambodia, small towns in Moldova, or rural parts of Brazil. But human trafficking happens in cities and towns all over the world, including in the United States. Enslaved farmworkers have been found harvesting tomatoes in Florida and picking strawberries in California. Young girls have been forced into prostitution in Toledo, Atlanta, Wichita, Los Angeles, and other cities and towns across America. Women have been enslaved as domestic workers in homes in Maryland and New York. And human trafficking victims have been found working in restaurants, hotels, nail salons, and shops in small towns and booming cities. Wherever you live, chances are some form of human trafficking has taken place there.

Amanda Kloer, Change.org

For more information visit the CNN Freedom Project website and please join me in making donations to the organization Anti-Slavery, which combats slavery all over the world, and to the Not My Life anti-human trafficking awareness campaign.

Watch the trailer for the documentary film on modern day slavery and human trafficking, Not My Life, below.

Additional resources:

Not My Life

Anti-Slavery

End Slavery Now

Somaly Mam Foundation

Humantrafficking.org