There are more than 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide, according to International Labour Organization estimates. In the United States, some trafficking victims are often hidden in plain sight, forced into sexual exploitation and held captive in establishments disguised as legitimate massage businesses. There are around 9,000 illicit massage businesses (IMB) operating across the country, complete with websites, customer reviews, licenses and tax records. Despite efforts to shut down individual IMBs, they often reopen under different names, suggesting a deeper connection linking establishments, which was not always evident from the data.
Polaris aims to dismantle these trafficking networks. As a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking, Polaris works directly with victims, engages systems to disrupt trafficking, hosts tip and crisis hotlines and offers support.