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Female Sex Slave Trade

Human Trafficking

The Facts:

  • An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of human trafficking:
  • 1.4 million (56%) in Asia and the Pacific
  • 250,000 (10%) in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 230,000 (9.2%) in the Middle East and northern Africa
  • 130,000 (5.2%) in sub-Saharan countries
  • 270,000 (10.8%) in industrialized countries
  • 200,000 (8%) in countries in transition

161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit, or destination.
Reports indicate that people are trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries.

The Victims:

  • The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age, with at least mid-level education.
  • An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
  • Based on data from select European countries, 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual abuse during trafficking.
  • 43% of victims are used for commercial sexual exploitation, 98% of whom are women and girls.
  • 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, 56% of whom are women and girls.

The Traffickers:

  • 52% of traffickers are men, 42% are women.  (6% are both men and women.)
  • In 54% of trafficking cases, the recruiter was a stranger to the victim.  In 46% of cases the recruiter was known to his/her victim.
  • The majority of suspects involved in human trafficking are nationals of the country in which the trafficking is occurring.

The Profits:

  • The estimated global annual profits made from human trafficking is 31.6 billion U.S. dollars:
  • USD $15.5 billion (49%) in industrialized countries
  • USD $9.7 billion (30.6%) in Asia and the Pacific
  • USD $1.3 billion (4.1%) in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • USD $1.6 billion (5%) in sub-Saharan Africa
  • USD $1.5 billion (4.7%) in the Middle East and northern Africa

The Fight:

  • In 2006, there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions for human trafficking around the world.
  • This means:  For every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted.

It may be "the world's oldest profession", but for those who are abducted and held captive, duped, sold or otherwise forced into prostitution, it is nothing more than sex slavery.

This industry is not confined to any particular geographic region, culture, or race of peoples but happens everywhere on the globe. This is perhaps why the trade in humans has been called "the dark side of globalization." Nepalese girls are lured to India with false promises of employment just as their Mexican sisters are smuggled into the U.S. Eastern European girls fall prey to the Russian mob while poor Thai children are sold to brothels to pay off debts and Zambian girls are secretly transported to Botswana. American girls are not necessarily safe either: a recent lawsuit by a former Miss USAcontained serious allegations of models being falsely lured into forced sexual captivity by the Sultan of Brunei (whose diplomatic immunity completely protected him from justifying his blunt denial). 

In addition to the organized crime rings, individual criminals, corrupt family members that sell or otherwise force women into sexual service, there are the horrific military campaigns in which rape and slavery are used as tactics of warfare and encouraged by army leaders. In the Sudan, young women and children are considered the most profitable war bounty. And Japan has been reluctant to acknowledge its dark legacy of the thousands of "comfort women" held as sexual prisoners during World War II.

But the tacit acceptance of rape and sexual enslavement in war, and otherwise, is coming under increasing international scrutiny and criticism, as suggested by the February 2001 verdict of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which stated that these atrocities are indeed crimes against humanity.

Actions, Information & Opportunities to Help

Web links to lists, facts, studies, publications, organizations and services related to female sex slavery and trafficking in humans.  

  • Equality Now
  • Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
  • Foundation Against Trafficking In Women
  • The Global Alliance Against Traffic In Women
  • U.N. Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention - Trafficking in Human Beings
  • UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
  • Comfort Women 
  • GWU Memory and Reconcilliation in the Asia-Pacific
  • The Protection Project
  • Prostitute's Education Network - Resources on the Web
  • Stop-traffic -- Addressing public health and human rights abuses of trafficked persons
  • Trafficking in Human Beings: Implications for the OSCE
  • Women for Women International

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