The USA's Human Trafficking "Dirty Dozen": How Does Your State Rank?

Aug 19, 2010
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.
Forced prostitution is a global crisis—and rampant in the U.S. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Trafficking human beings is an atrocity confined to Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa or parts of Asia right?

Wrong, says a new report that details extensive sex and labor trafficking in the United States.

The Polaris Project, one of the largest anti-slavery organizations in the U.S., has released its 2010 human trafficking state rankings [pdf].

The report highlights America's "Dirty Dozen"—the 12 states that are failing most often in cracking down on sex and labor trafficking.

Drum roll please....

The worst of the worst are:

  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • South Dakota
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

According to the Polaris Project, these five states have not addressed human trafficking at all.

Following close behind are the bottom seven of the "Dirty Dozen":

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Virginia

The Polaris Project's report [pdf] states these seven states:

Criminalize only sex trafficking or labor trafficking but not both, only include human trafficking as a mere sentencing enhancement, or have laws that are too weak or so narrowly drafted that investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking cannot proceed.

States that have taken action to combat the crisis include Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas and Washington.

The human trafficking problem is worldwide. The Polaris Project pegs trafficking as a $32 billion-a-year endeavor, and estimates 100,000 U.S. children are exploited in the sex industry each year.

Globally in 2009, there were 12.3 million victims of forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution.

That same year saw only 4,166 successful trafficking prosecutions and 335 successful forced labor prosecutions.

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