Slavery is often considered an issue of the past, effectively wiped out in the United States with the end of the Civil War and a subject reserved solely for history books. Yet modern slavery is very real, with over 20 million cases of human trafficking and slavery existing worldwide. Slavery takes many forms, including forced prostitution, domestic indentured servant, and illegal child adoptions. Without new and different government involvement and an increased law enforcement presence, human trafficking and modern slavery will continue to flourish in the United States. .
In the United States, human trafficking is defined as "the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for one of the following purposes: Labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery; or A commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; or If the person is under 18 years of age, any commercial sex act, regardless of whether any form of coercion is involved" (Farrell, Owens, and McDevitt, 2014). This is a wide definition that accounts for slavery in many different forms; in the United States alone, it is estimated that there are 1.5 million slaves currently in the country. More than 15,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year, swelling the numbers and further complicating an already precarious situation (Farrell, Owens, and McDevitt, 2014).
Human trafficking is considered one of the largest growing human rights concerns of the 21st century. Fueled by depressive economies and limited opportunities, without serious intervention, the black-market industry that has arisen will only continue to thrive. Increasing demands for slaves and low cost labor has set up a massive economic opportunity for traffickers (Farrell, Owens, and McDevitt, 2014).