“Human trafficking” is a general term that applies to a wide array of phenomena. Particular forms of human trafficking often have unique characteristics based on their geographical location, culture, and industry.
In Mauritania, there is widespread chattel slavery in which African Mauritanians are “owned”by Arab Mauritanians, often for generations. Those who resist face arrest and violence.

In parts of India, girls are dedicated to temples as “devadasi”. While the ancient practice wasn’t originally as harmful, today these girls are sold for sex and forced into prostitution.
Across the US, forced labor has been reported among travelling door to door sales crews. Homeless and vulnerable teenagers are recruited to these crews where they face violence, abuse, and fraud.

Common to all forms of human trafficking is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit people for profit.

(In the US, persons under 18 years are considered victims of sex trafficking without force, fraud, or coercion)

In virtually every country in the world, human trafficking can be found in industries that are labor intensive, low paying, and with little oversight or regulation, such as: manufacturing, construction, domestic service, agriculture, mining, the sex industry, and more.

Human trafficking as a spectrum

The International Labor Organization estimates there are 21 million people being trafficked worldwide. Of these 21 million people, more than 75% are being trafficked for the purpose of forced labor. Human trafficking generates massive profits. The ILO estimates that the crime of human trafficking produces 150 billion in profits every year. While sex trafficking is estimated to be only 22% of human trafficking, it accounts for almost 66% of the profits.