Friday is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. thanks to passage of a resolution by the Senate in 2007. However, I doubt many know that such a day exists or that there are reportedly more slaves in the world today than there were during the height of the slave trade in the 1800s. The estimated number of those in bondage worldwide today is 27 million. This human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings (men, women and children) for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. It is the world’s fastest-growing criminal industry and has estimated annual revenue of $32 billion.

It affects every nation in the world including the United States and every state including Oregon. And yes, it also exists in our own backyard.

How can we respond to this human rights crisis? Educate yourself and share what you learn with family, friends and groups. Start by accessing websites such as www. and www.polaris Get involved with Central Oregon OATH (Oregonians against Trafficking of Humans) by checking out its website It is time to act now!

Maggie Hanson