Human trafficking (HT) is a horrific and seemingly intractable problem that is typically construed as falling beyond the purview of engineers. This paper argues that engineering systems analysis can produce important insights concerning HT operations and ways to reduce its frequency. Three cases of such systems analysis illustrate (a) the limitations of individual-level interventions against sex trafficking, (b) the benefits of applying network analysis and interdiction models to HT supply chains, and (c) options to reduce the use of trafficked labor in the preparation and distribution of fish products.
The International Labour Office (ILO 2017) has estimated that there are 25 million victims in forced labor around the world, including 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation. There are opportunities for engineering to make transformative contributions to the curtailment of human trafficking.