Modern Day Slavery

The slave trade is alive and well today. It means that people work for no money and have no chance of escape. It is not legal anywhere in the world, but happens all over the globe. It is all about profit for the slave-owner. 

80% of slaves are female.


Slavery can take the form of:

  • Sexual slavery (almost 80% of documented slave cases)
  • Labor slavery (almost 20% of cases)
  • Child soldiers
  • Forced Marriage

Modern day slavery is big business with an estimated market value of $32 billion annually. It is the fastest-growing criminal industry and is included with illegal drugs and weapons sales as the top three global criminal industries.   

There are 27 million slaves in the world today – more now than in 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Two million of these are children who are trapped in the sex trade.

Up to four million women and children are taken into slavery annually, both across international borders and within countries.

Who is most impacted?

  • 80 per cent of the victims are female
  • 50 per cent of the victims are children
  • 70 per cent of females are taken for sexual exploitation  

Where does slavery occur?



The majority of the world’s countries are involved in the slave trade. The UN documents victims from 127 source countries passing through 98 transit countries and being exploited in 137 destination countries. 

Why does slavery occur?


Poverty can cause families to trade their daughters for economic gain. Families may believe that their daughters will work in a legitimate business, but they end up working as sex slaves. Demand also drives the slave trade in the form of sex tourism and other illegal sexual activity.

Tirzah’s Response

Preventing the slave trade in Burma: 20,000 Burmese women have been taken into the brothels of Thailand and 50 to 70% of those returning are HIV-positive. Tirzah International is educating communities on the tactics slave traders use to lure their victims and how women and children can protect themselves. Tirzah also trains Burmese women in sewing as an income source for their families.

Tirzah’s Ethiopia partner is providing training in income-generating projects for families so they do not fall prey to slave traders. They are also working to rehabilitate a group of girls who have been returned from slavery in the Middle East.