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Sex and Labor Trafficking in the U.S. Redefined, Classified in 'Typology of Modern Slavery'

Image credit: Polaris

Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and help survivors restore their freedom, has released a new report, The Typology of Modern Slavery, that breaks down instances of sex and labor trafficking into 25 distinct categories, detailing the unique trafficker profile, recruitment tactics, victim profile, and method of control for each different subset of modern slavery.  

The report is based on the largest data set on human trafficking ever publicly compiled and analyzed in the United States. It restructures previously conceived frameworks around sex and labor trafficking, offering a new, more effective look at the causes and potential solutions to modern slavery in the U.S.

In The Typology of Modern Slavery, Polaris analyzed more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking to develop a classification system that identifies 25 types of modern slavery in the United States:

1. Escort Services

2. Illicit Massage, Health, and Beauty

3. Outdoor Solicitation

4. Residential

5. Domestic Work

6. Bars, Strip Clubs, and Cantinas

7. Pornography

8. Traveling Sales Crews

9. Restaurants and Food Service

10. Peddling and Begging

11. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry

12. Personal Sexual Servitude

13. Health and Beauty Services

14. Construction

15. Hotels and Hospitality

16. Landscaping

17. Illicit Activities

18. Arts and Entertainment

19. Commercial Cleaning Services

20. Factories and Manufacturing

21. Remote Interactive Sexual Acts

22. Carnivals

23. Forestry and Logging

24. Health Care

25. Recreational Facilities

“One of the primary challenges to ending modern slavery has been the lack of data to understand the problem,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “The Typology of Modern Slavery offers a new map to understand how human trafficking manifests throughout the country.” 

The report relies on data gathered from Polaris-operated hotlines between December 2007 and December 2016. During that time period, Polaris received reports of 32,208 cases of potential human trafficking and 10,085 potential cases of labor exploitation. The Typology report offers the next step in creating a world without slavery. Polaris invites survivors, practitioners and experts in the field to help refine this classification system and make it even more accurate and robust by contributing cases, data, and firsthand experiences beyond those included in the report.

“Perpetrators of human trafficking often operate in the shadows, making it a challenge to interrupt the systems that support them,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. “This report provides a comprehensive look at the typology of modern slavery that will help prosecutors protect victims and pursue criminals.”

Funding for the Typology report was provided through a grant from Google, a longtime partner to Polaris and supporter of anti-human trafficking work throughout the world. On Monday, Polaris was awarded the 2017 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation, which recognizes organizations that disrupt the status quo, drive sustainable large-scale change, and are poised to create an even greater impact in the world. 

“These are the tools that survivors and advocates need to revolutionize a movement and put an end to modern slavery,” said Rebecca Bender, survivor advocate and CEO/founder of the Rebecca Bender Initiative. “With a better understanding, we will have a better chance to help people fight these systems of control and oppression.”


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