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Pandemic Leads to Crisis in Human Trafficking

June 16, 2020

Since the onset of COVID-19, Polaris has been tracking data reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. According to our analysis, the impact of the pandemic and subsequent quarantine may already be leading to an escalation of sex and labor trafficking. Our snapshot compares a post-shelter-in-place period to two deliberately chosen pre-shelter-in-place periods. Key findings include:

The number of crisis trafficking cases handled by the Trafficking Hotline increased by more than 40% in the month following the shelter-in-place orders compared to the same period in 2019, and the number of situations in which people needed immediate emergency shelter nearly doubled.
A greater need for stable housing and resources for at-risk communities, victims, and survivors now more than ever to ensure the pandemic does not further contribute to the epidemic of sex and labor trafficking in the U.S.

Polaris is highlighting this urgent need for more shelter as city, county, state, and federal governments consider how their resources can be directed to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Our recommendations are the first in a planned series presenting timely analysis and evidence to guide efforts to respond to emerging needs as a result of the pandemic.

The Trafficking Hotline is not a definitive measure for U.S. sex and labor trafficking prevalence. Our analysis explores the important correlation among crisis cases, shelter, demand, and COVID-19.

To read the full snapshot, please click here.