Human trafficking said it has become an “epidemic,” both in the U.S. and worldwide. “There are 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide,” said Cynthia Turner, executive director of Seraphim GLOBAL, an international public health and community development organization. “The number is staggering yet incidences of trafficking are often underreported.”
In the United States, the number of persons said to be the victims of human trafficking is between 14,500 and 17,500, according to Julie Southwell, a field organizer for Amnesty International USA, a human rights organization. But she said, “The actual number is much higher.”
Yvonne Williams, executive director of the Trafficking in America Task Force, a Tennessee-based nonprofit, said, “No one signs up to be a sex slave,” said Ms. Williams, adding that an Alabama study found that 50 percent of trafficking victims were introduced by family members to it due to drug or poverty.