What is Sex Trafficking?

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” 
– Benjamin Franklin

Human trafficking is modern day slavery.  The term refers to the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, abduction, deception or coercion.

Human trafficking has an estimated 32 billion US dollar profit annually, making it the second most lucrative business for organized crime groups. To a human trafficker, people are regarded as just another commodity – like narcotics, weapons, or endangered species – to be exploited and traded for profit.  Relatively low risks of being caught and high profit margins make trafficking in persons one of the least risky criminal pursuits worldwide; consequently nearly every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, as a point of source, transit or destination, or a combination of the three.

The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 2.5 million victims of human trafficking at any given time, and that 79% of them are in a situation of forced sexual exploitation. The Asia-pacific region is estimated to have the largest number of trafficking victims, comprising over 56% of the total world estimate.

ILO (2) Press release 01 June 2012 -Victims of forced labour by region

ILO (2) Press release 01 June 2012 -Victims of forced labour by region

While sex trafficking can and does happen to men and boys, 98% of victims are female and many are under 18 years of age.  There are many ways that traffickers coerce young girls into situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation, the most common being a promise of a good job in another city or country.  However, there are other methods used such as: a false offer of marriage, being sold by a relative or significant other, or being kidnapped by traffickers.

Victims of trafficking are frequently subjected to debt-bondage, an illegal practice in which traffickers tell their victims that they owe money (often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transport to the city or to a new country) and that they must pledge their personal services to repay the debt.  Then in order to make their victims become compliant, sex traffickers use methods that include starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to the victims and the victims’ families, forced drug use, and the threat of shaming victims by revealing their activities to their family and communities.

Learn why prevention is better than cure >>

Source: International Labour Organization