While many people are completely oblivious to the world's fastest growing crime, approximately 40.3 million victims are suffering the consequences of this modern day slavery. These people are all around us, even in the United States, almost everywhere we go, yet we don't realize it. With January being Human Trafficking Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to spread awareness about this awful crime.

Human trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry created by the enslavement of individuals, generally for the use of sex and/or labor. These individuals are deprived of their freedoms and have no way out. No one race, ethnicity, or particular age is targeted either. While we generally see a larger percentage of female victims, males are affected, as well. People may be more vulnerable if they are migrants, poor, substance users, or homeless youth.

Some people ask, why don't the victims just leave? Well, it's not that easy. Victims go through physical and emotional abuse, making them feel trapped and giving them fear for leaving.

These victims are often poor or migrants, as explained above. There are threats that they may be reported, then, therefore, have to leave the country to avoid deportation. Poor people also have nowhere to go, so they are less likely to report it. As a country, we do not want to admit this is a problem, and to some people, avoiding it is easier than addressing it. However, we need to fight to save the trafficking victims so they can regain their freedoms.

If you have time, this video exemplifies how widespread human trafficking really is.

Recognizing the signs of human trafficking can make a large impact, especially when it comes to healthcare providers. In several instances, the traffickers will bring their victims to a hospital to receive medical attention, so teaching healthcare providers the signs can make a difference.

Learning more about trafficking and spreading awareness are the easiest and most beneficial ways to begin to end this awful crime. You should also go out and vote for policies that fight poor labor laws. Human trafficking is everywhere, we just don't know where to look. It's time to step up and do something to help stop the world's most dangerous and fastest growing crime. Slavery is still around today and it needs to come to an end.

Learn more here.