by Kate Boyle

If you thought slavery ended with Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution you would be wrong. Slavery still exists today in this country and all over the world – it’s just become less transparent. Human trafficking has become the modern form of slavery, with women and children as the primary victims. As a part of the End It Movement, an attempt to create awareness for slavery and human trafficking, today has been deemed “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” in honor of the 27 million people still living in slavery around the world.

Human trafficking tends to involve the most defenseless populations and takes the form of forced prostitution, forced labor, and domestic servitude. The statistics regarding human trafficking vary considerably; however, an estimated 40% of trafficking victims are under age 18 and at least 75% of trafficked persons are women.

The traffickers’ targets are kidnapped, taken from their homes and families and sold into slavery – never to be heard from again. This isn’t just happening in third world countries. In the United States, New York, California, and Florida are the three states with the largest amount of trafficked victims.

Centuries ago, the Commonwealth was the first government in the West to abolish slavery with the Act for the Gradual abolition of Slavery – enacted 75 years before the passage of the 13th Amendment. More recently, Pennsylvania has been labeled a “pass-through” state for trafficking due to the various available highways and truck stops for transportation. According to a recent study, however, Pennsylvania is not just an area smugglers use to pass through; it is also a source and a destination for human trafficking.

The percentage of perpetrators who are tried and convicted is astonishingly low. In 2006, there were only 3,160 convictions around the world. So, for every 800 people trafficked, only one was convicted. Of the 132 countries covered in a United Nations Study, 16% did not record a single conviction between 2007 and 2010.

Join the End It Movement. Bring awareness to this devastating issue and be an advocate for the millions of voiceless victims around the world.