Human Trafficking | Definition of Human Trafficking by Merriam-Webster

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Definition of human trafficking

: organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor)

Examples of human trafficking in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Her case has become a national rallying point for activists trying to reform the criminal justice system, and raise awareness about the toll of human trafficking.

NBC News, “Cyntoia Brown, sentenced at 16 to life in prison, to plead for leniency in federal court,” 10 June 2018

Women are far more likely to be the victims of human trafficking.

Megan Friedman, Marie Claire, “14 Ways Women Still Aren’t Equal to Men,” 6 Nov. 2018

On December 23, 2008, President Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to combat human trafficking.

Amanda Arnold, The Cut, “Customs Agent Hassled Mother and Daughter for Having Different Last Names,” 9 July 2018

Of these four stated overarching goals for 2017, the Trump administration has taken meaningful action on only one: ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, “The G20 summit is a reminder of how little the US is doing for American workers,” 26 Nov. 2018

The mandatory training will include twice-yearly sessions on how to recognize human trafficking and its victims.

Kevin Litten,, “French Quarter strip club employees face mandatory training,” 1 Mar. 2018

Those events include a talk by Kara Ulmer, director of World Relief Akron; a panel on human trafficking; a speech by Ashland University coach Sue Ramsey; and an appearance by District 4 Way Speech Contest winners from area high schools.

Jeff Piorkowski/special To,, “An emotional trip back to Auschwitz for a Beachwood man; knitting hats for newborns at Laurel School; more: Press Run,” 20 Apr. 2018

Milwaukee performing artists drop the gloves in early 2018, offering two-fisted takes on human trafficking, immigration, authoritarian rule and the pesky problem of unexpectedly turning into a bug.

Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “22 intriguing Milwaukee performances in early 2018,” 4 Jan. 2018

Their passport is usually kept in a lock and key somewhere, which is the definition of human trafficking.

Eric Johnson, Recode, “Elites like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos think they’re being philanthropic. But they could do so much more.,” 3 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘human trafficking.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of human trafficking

1904, in the meaning defined above

Learn More about human trafficking

Resources for human trafficking

Statistics for human trafficking

Last Updated

23 Jan 2019

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an initial attempt to do something new

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