Press Releases

Sex and Labor Trafficking Redefined in The Typology of Modern Slavery

Polaris Defines 25 Types of Modern Slavery in the United States, breaking down previous frameworks

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2017)—Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and help survivors restore their freedom, released a new report today, The Typology of Modern Slavery, that breaks down instances of sex and labor trafficking into 25 distinct categories, detailing the unique trafficker profile, recruitment tactics, victim profile, and method of control for each different subset of modern slavery.

The report, which is based off the largest data set on human trafficking ever publicly compiled and analyzed in the United States, restructures previously conceived frameworks around sex and labor trafficking, offering a new, more effective look at the causes and potential solutions to modern slavery in the U.S.


In The Typology of Modern Slavery, Polaris’s research team proposes a classification system that identifies 25 distinct types of human trafficking in the United States, including:

1. Escort Services 14. Construction
2. Illicit Massage, Health, and Beauty 15. Hotels and Hospitality
3. Outdoor Solicitation 16. Landscaping
4. Residential 17. Illicit Activities
5. Domestic Work 18. Arts and Entertainment
6. Bars, Strip Clubs, and Cantinas 19. Commercial Cleaning Services
7. Pornography 20. Factories and Manufacturing
8. Traveling Sales Crews 21. Remote Interactive Sexual Acts
9. Restaurants and Food Service 22. Carnivals
10. Peddling and Begging 23. Forestry and Logging
11. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 24. Health Care
12. Personal Sexual Servitude 25. Recreational Facilities
13. Health and Beauty Services  

“One of the primary challenges to ending modern slavery has been the lack of data to understand the problem,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “The Typology of Modern Slavery offers a new map to understand how human trafficking manifests throughout the country.”

“Perpetrators of human trafficking often operate in the shadows making it a challenge to interrupt the systems that support them,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman. “This report provides a comprehensive look at the typology of modern slavery that will help prosecutors protect victims and pursue criminals.”

“These are the tools that survivors and advocates need to revolutionize a movement and put an end to modern slavery,”said Rebecca Bender, survivor advocate and CEO/Founder of the Rebecca Bender Initiative. “With a better understanding, we will have a better chance to help people fight these systems of control and oppression.”

“Polaris analyzed more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking to develop a classification system that identifies 25 types of modern slavery,” said Jennifer Penrose, Data Analysis Director at Polaris. “From escort services to traveling sales crews, the ways humans are exploited differ greatly, as do ways to combat the problem.”

The report relies on data gathered from Polaris-operated hotlines between December 2007 and December 2016. During that time period, Polaris received reports of 32,208 cases of potential human trafficking and 10,085 potential cases of labor exploitation. The Typology report offers the next step in creating a world without slavery. Polaris invites survivors, practitioners, and experts in the field to help refine this classification system and make it even more accurate and robust by contributing cases, data, and firsthand experiences beyond those included in the report.

Funding for the Typology report was provided through a grant from Google, a longtime partner to Polaris and supporter of anti-human trafficking work throughout the world. On Monday, Polaris was awarded the 2017 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation, which recognizes organizations that disrupt the status quo, drive sustainable large-scale change, and are poised to create an even greater impact in the world.

People can receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking in the United States by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to Polaris at “BeFree” (233733).

# # # # #

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systematically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at


More Press Releases

Need help? Polaris operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline.