Are Reports of Human Trafficking Boom “Blown Way Out of Proportion”?


Human trafficking is a problem but not the mammoth problem described in news reports, says sociologist Ronald Weitzer of George Washington University. Writing on Huffington Post, Weitzer notes the “huge disparity” between estimates of millions of cases and the tiny number of victims identified and rescued each year.

Weitzer says the “assertion that trafficking is growing globally cannot be substantiated. A related claim, by activists and some government officials, is that human trafficking has progressed from the third largest criminal enterprise in the world, behind the drug and arms trades, to number two status, behind drugs. I have yet to see any supporting evidence for this claim. Estimates of the profits — said to be between $5 and $12 billion annually — are similarly dubious.” Concluding that the “farfetched claims about trafficking [ ] hardly lend themselves to evidence-based policy-making,” Weitzer says they “are used to justify huge government expenditures to fight a problem that may have been blown way out of proportion.”

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