07/30/2014 05:46 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

July 30: Raising Awareness Through Social Media on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

Did you know that human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world? No? Most people don't.

Last week a friend and I were discussing human trafficking, a discussion sparked by a storyline on USA's summer drama Graceland, when I mentioned how terrifying the statistics on human trafficking really are. My friend wasn't sure she wanted to know the exact numbers. And I honestly can't say I blame her.

Growing up, my mother taught her grad students about human trafficking, so I've always known the numbers and have always been amazed that it's an issue that gets talked about so infrequently. I think there are many people who just don't know that this is happening in the world we live in and, of those who do know, many are left so uncomfortable -- and rightly so -- by the issue that so many things go unsaid.

So I was thrilled to hear that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was having its first ever World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness among the general public and policy-makers and show solidarity for the victims of human trafficking. If you're unfamiliar with just how big a problem the human trafficking trade is, here are a few key facts:

  • The International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking.
  • Nearly 20% of all trafficking victims worldwide are children.
  • Human trafficking generates9.5 billion yearly in the United States alone.
  • 16% of reporting countries did not record a single human trafficking conviction between 2007 and 2010.

If these numbers shock and horrify you and you're interesting in helping raise awareness for this issue, the UNODC has made it really easy for you. Today, they're asking those interested to take a picture of yourself or a friend forming a heart with your hands and share it on social media with the hashtag #IGiveHope. It's a fast and simple to help bring this issue to the forefront and offer hope to the millions of victims of human trafficking.


Interested in doing more to raise awareness? Visit UNODC's website: