Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing illegal industries in the world, with the Council of Europe attesting that it accounts for international revenue of $42.5 billion annually. But what is human trafficking? There are several different definitions, but the broadest and most general is the illegal movement of people. That is, moving human beings for the intent of anything ranging from forced labor to getting around immigration laws to prostitution. But because of the amount of money generated by the industry, and because of the long history of human trafficking, it will be very difficult to effectively combat the problem.
Because many of the world's most prosperous countries have rather rigid immigration laws (for example, America's quota system), there is a big industry in circumventing these laws and bringing people into the country illegally. These human smugglers are able to charge high prices for their expertise, so the racket has become quite lucrative. Just as governments employ expert professionals to keep illegal immigrants out, illegal immigrants are now able to employ expert professionals to help them get in.
Slavery is an enormous international business that requires human trafficking to operate. Forced labor is used extensively in the developing world, often in factories or for mass manual labor purposes. Human traffickers will often round up laborers either forcibly or through false promises of pay and benefits. To desperately impoverished and uneducated people, these promises are often tempting enough to take. Traffickers will usually move them across borders, where foreign companies keep them de facto enslaved.
"White slavery," as it is called, is one of the biggest money-makers under the human trafficking umbrella. According to research funded by the United States Government, nearly 80% of all people illegally trafficked across borders are women, about half of whom are minors, a high percentage of whom are made to submit to forced prostitution. Naturally, due to the illegal nature of white slavery, it is impossible to make an accurate estimate of the number of women and children forced into such a degrading life.
The criminals who run these prostitution rings usually have a front business such as a modeling or travel agency which they use to dupe unsuspecting women into trusting them. They are then moved to their new country and kept essentially enslaved to their employers. As difficult as it may be to believe, this happens even in the United States and other Western nations.