Victims of trafficking are often isolated: They're told that contact with police with trigger their own arrest and they're afraid of beatings or reprisals by the traffickers themselves.
The Polaris Project's National Human Trafficking Resource Center, a 24-hour government-funded national trafficking hotline, has become a lifeline for some.
• National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline: 1-888-3737-888
• Hotlines all over the world
In the video, actress Mira Sorvino, in her role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, helps build awareness of the human trafficking issue and takes CNN on a behind-the-scenes tour of the crisis center.
By Jim Kavanagh, CNN
A former victim of human trafficking was one of three women sentenced to prison for that crime Wednesday in Vietnam, VietNamNet reported.
The 29-year-old woman was sold to a man in 2009 by a trafficking ring whose leader is now imprisoned, according to the news service. She later induced 11 other women to travel to China, where they were sold to men, a Vietnamese provincial court ruled. FULL POST
CNN's Jim Clancy interviews Gary Haugen, the founder of the International Justice Mission, about how the Indian government has recently stepped up its efforts at combating the problem of debt labor in the country.
CNN's Mallika Kapur reported on how more than 500 slaves were rescued from a brick kiln in southern India. But what happens to the victims after the rescue?
A federal judge in Mexico has sentenced four people to a minimum of 16 1/2 years each behind bars for human trafficking, the Mexican attorney general's office said Tuesday, marking a rare conviction in a country struggling to get a grip on the illegal trade.
The investigation began because of a tip from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, authorities said.
Agents rescued four women being forced to work as prostitutes in Miami, Florida, according to a statement from the Mexican attorney general's office. An ICE spokeswoman said U.S. agents identified two of the victims in Miami and that the other two were identified by authorities in Mexico. FULL POST
From CNN's Mallika Kapur
Chennai, India - Beaten with rods, belts and subjected to other forms of abuse, the bonded laborers toiled away in a tiny brick kiln in southern India day after day with little hope of freedom and escape.
But on a tip, officials from the government of Tamil Nadu state in India raided the kiln. What they found shocked them: More than 500 people living and working under a brutal and oppressive system.
"We worked all the time. We would only stop to eat," says 20-year-old Dambru Jani, who was rescued in the raid. "If we tried to rest, they'd abuse us and force us to work again." FULL POST
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sits down with CNN's Jim Clancy to explain what the annual Trafficking In Persons Report does and how the U.S. helps countries tackle their own slavery problems.
In a panel hosted by CNN's Jim Clancy, anti-slavery activists speak out about what can and should be done.
A U.S. Government anti-slavery report published Monday throws the spotlight on countries it says are not meeting minimum anti-trafficking standards.
The U.S. State Department's Trafficking In Persons (TIP ) Report identifies countries that it says meet minimum standards, countries working towards them and countries that appear to be doing little to stop trafficking.
Each country is put into one of four grades - Tier 1, Tier 2, Two Watch and Tier Three. The United States can impose sanctions on countries in the bottom tier. (See how the countries rank)
This year, the Dominican Republic was the only country to lift itself out of the bottom tier, and the Czech Republic was the only country to slip out of the top-ranked countries.
The TIP Report cited weak prevention efforts for labor trafficking and the lack of formal steps by the Czech government to reduce demand for commercial sex acts.
It said the Dominican Republic got a higher ranking for protecting more victims and making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards laid down in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
As the report was published, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "This report is a tool and we are interested in working with countries around the world to get results."
She said one focus will be countries where anti-trafficking laws are on the books but are rarely used to convict the traffickers. (Watch Clinton explain why trafficking is "unforgiveable")
In Africa, Nigeria and Mauritius kept their Tier 1 status - the only African nations in the top rank - while Algeria, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, and Madagascar all dropped into Tier 3
In Asia, China stays on the Two Watch list while India moves off the Watch list and into Tier 2. The report credited India for law enforcement efforts but expressed concern over reports that corrupt officers facilitate sex trafficking.
CNN is seeking reaction of countries singled out for criticism. (See inside the TIP war room)
The report is compiled with the help of U.S. embassies, non-governmental organizations, aid groups and individuals who have submitted data or their own personal accounts.
It counts known cases of human trafficking in more than 175 countries, whether for commercial sex, bonded labor, child labor, involuntary domestic servitude or child soldiers.
And it tracks new legislation, prosecutions and convictions. (See how the report is compiled using 2010 figures)
Tier 1 countries meet the minimum standards laid down in the TVPA but it does not also mean the country does not have trafficking issues or that it cannot improve beyond the minimum.
Tier 2 countries don't fully comply with the minimum standards but are often seen as making significant progress.
Tier 2 Watch countries have fallen short of the legislation's minimum standards despite making "significant efforts." It includes countries with high numbers of victims of severe forms of human trafficking.
Tier 3 countries do not appear to be trying to reach the minimum standard - and they could face limited U.S. sanctions.
The report also honors as heroes 10 people around the world who are trying to stamp out human trafficking.
They include Amela Efendic, who works with trafficking victims in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Charimaya Tamang, a former sex slave who now runs an anti-trafficking organization in Nepal; and Dilcya Garcia, who has pioneered human trafficking prosecutions in Mexico.
The man behind the annual U.S. TIP Report says governments and consumers have to work against modern day slavery.
CNN's Barbara Starr investigates human trafficking in Washington, D.C.
How seriously governments around the world are working to combat human trafficking comes into sharp focus Monday when the U.S. State Department issues its 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
Published annually since 2001, the TIP Report counts known cases of human trafficking in more than 175 countries, whether for commercial sex, bonded labor, child labor, involuntary domestic servitude or child soldiers.
It also takes note of new legislation enacted, how many prosecutions were initiated and how many traffickers were convicted.
The State Department describes the TIP Report as a "diplomatic tool" that can be used to engage with other countries on the issue of human trafficking.
It is assembled with the help of embassies, non-governmental organizations, aid groups and individuals who have submitted data or their own personal accounts.
As a result, the report has become the world's most comprehensive survey of modern day slavery. It also explores which strategies are succeeding or failing in the fight against human trafficking.
"The TIP Report, for us, is an invaluable source of information," says Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's special representative and coordinator for combating trafficking in human beings.
She added: "In Europe we had a huge phenomenon of trafficking for sexual exploitation but now what is growing is trafficking for labor exploitation and child trafficking."
The global trade in human beings is changing, growing more sophisticated as a criminal enterprise that can boast more profits and fewer risks than the illegal drug trade.
The TIP Report accounts for that changing situation by placing countries into different tiers, which can point to progress made against human trafficking or the lack of effort. For friends and foes of Washington, it's a time of reckoning.
At the top, Tier 1 countries in 2010 like Germany, Sweden, Australia and South Korea are credited with full compliance with the requirements of the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act" re-authorized by the U.S. Congress in 2008. The U.S. is a Tier 1 country, but only began including itself in the survey in 2010.
Tier 1 does not mean a country doesn't have a human trafficking problem but rather that it has admitted the problem and is working to address it.
Tier 2 nations don't fully comply with the TVPA's minimum standards. Countries in this category are often seen as making significant progress. In 2010, countries ranging from Greece and Argentina to Indonesia and Switzerland found themselves on the second level.
There are many countries that may find themselves on the Tier 2 Watch List. These are countries that have fallen short of the legislation's minimum standards but have made "significant efforts."
What complicates the status of these countries is they may have high numbers of victims of severe forms of human trafficking and there's little or no evidence they are pursuing prosecutions of traffickers or reaching out to provide more help to victims.
The Tier 2 Watch may also point to countries that failed to live up to past commitments to improve their records. Thailand, Syria, Singapore and Iraq made the watch list in the 2010 TIP report.
At the bottom of the list are the Tier 3 states that neither meet the TVPA's minimum standards nor appear to be making efforts to do so. North Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran and even Saudi Arabia were among a dozen states shamed by the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report.
It's not just humiliating. It can be costly, too. The U.S. Congress passed the legislation providing for limited sanctions that could deny non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign aid.
Tier 3 governments could also find their diplomats, military and others ineligible for educational or cultural exchange programs.
What many will find is that the 2011 TIP Report goes far beyond just numbers and lists.
It will include current examples and stories of how human trafficking is undermining the dignity of millions of people around world.
Even more interesting for most of us may be the anticipated list of "TIP Report Heroes" who are honored for their commitment to end modern day slavery.
CNN is joining the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern-day slavery, amplifying the voices of the victims, highlighting success stories and helping unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life. WHY WE'RE DOING THIS | MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT