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National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 | TTY: 711
Human trafficking is a pervasive, global problem with acute consequences for the survivors. Human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of State, is a form of modern-day slavery involving the recruitment, harboring, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through force, fraud, coercion or threat for the purpose of exploitation.
It is the fastest growing criminal enterprise worldwide, with estimated total profits of $150 billion, and it enslaves approximately 40.3 million men, women, and children around the world - that’s more than at any other point in human history.
Women and children are particularly vulnerable. According to the Global Slavery Index, 71% of victims trapped in human trafficking are women and girls, and according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 1 in 4 children is a victim of human trafficking. In 2017, an estimated 1 out of 7 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Out of those, 88% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
Both internal and external trafficking occurs in Uganda. The Office of Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, classifies Uganda as a Tier 2 country, meaning that it does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act but is making significant strides forward. Uganda’s efforts to fight trafficking include the 2009 Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, a national task force, and a public awareness campaign. According to the National Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Office, the number of reported cases of human trafficking has decreased.
However, human trafficking is a hidden crime and trafficked women and children are intentionally kept out of sight, so the statistics cannot fully capture the magnitude of the issue. The Global Survey Index estimates that there are as many as 304,000 victims currently being exploited in Uganda, but in 2017, only 276 were reported. Further, from those reported victims, Uganda only achieved 52 prosecutions and 24 convictions, none of which involved government officials despite growing concerns of corruption and official complicity in these crimes. One victim is already too many, so Uganda still has a long way to go. Uganda’s anti-trafficking efforts are also underfunded, primarily supported by NGOs, and marked by a lack of education and training among law enforcement.
Uganda is making strides toward a more just and equitable world, but coercion and exploitation, the hallmarks of trafficking, are still common. Every step towards raising public awareness and fostering compassion helps us reach our end goal of a world where slavery is eradicated and justice prevails.