Sex trafficking – the facts

What is it?

The UN defines human trafficking as:

‘The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits for the purpose of exploitation.’

UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime



1 HOW WIDESPREAD IS IT?

Human trafficking affects virtually every region of the world. People from 127 countries are exploited in 137 countries.^1^

An estimated 2.4 million people are currently in forced labour – including sexual exploitation – as a result of trafficking. This is around a fifth of the total number of people in forced labour worldwide.^2^

Some experts estimate that sex trafficking accounts for 80% of all trafficking.^1^ Other estimates put it at around 40% – on the basis that other forms of slavery are even less reported.^2^

*Trafficked forced labour by form^2^*
According to the International Labour Organization

2 WHO GETS TRAFFICKED?

GENDER
Women and girls are more vulnerable to trafficking of all kinds – but especially that involving sex – than men and boys.^2^

POVERTY
Trafficking victims tend to be the poorest and most vulnerable people coming from poor countries.

*Impacts^3^*
A medical study of women and girls entering care after having been trafficked found that:
*95%* reported physical and/or sexual violence.
*56%* suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
*57%* had 12-23 concurrent physical health problems.
*60%* suffered pelvic pain, vaginal discharge and gynaecological infection.
*38%* had suicidal thoughts, *95%* depression – most showing little reduction after 90 days in care.



3 WHERE FROM? WHERE THROUGH? WHERE TO?

The US Government estimates that between 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year.^1^



4 WHO PROFITS?

The profits from trafficked forced labour are estimated at $32 billion a year. Of this about $10 billion is derived from the initial ‘sale’ of individuals with the remainder representing the estimated profits from their exploitation.^2^





5 WHO CREATES THE DEMAND?

Generally the people who buy sex are male and married or in long-term partnerships. They cross all social and economic boundaries.



6 INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING



  1. UN Office on Drugs and Crime, _Trafficking In Persons, Global Patterns_, 2006.
  2. UN International Labour Organization, _A Global Alliance Against Forced Labour_, 2005.
  3. Cathy Zimmerman, _Stolen Smiles: a summary report on the physical and psychological health consequences of women and adolescents trafficked in Europe_, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2006.
  4. Donna M Hughes, _Sex Trafficking Supply and Demand_, Carolina Women’s Center, 2006.
  5. Rita Chaikin, Isha L’Isha, in _Trafficking and the Global Sex Industry_, ed Karen Beeks and Delia Amir, Lexington Books, 2006.
  6. Dr Teela Sanders, University of Leeds, 2006, except for the UK figure which is from UK Network of Sex Workers Project, 2004.
  7. Françoise Legros, _A literature review of the sexual health needs of commercial sex workers and their clients_, DHIVERSE, 2005.
  8. UK Home Office, 2003.