Fri 20 Feb, 2009
Tags: Human trafficking, Modern slavery, Sex slavery, United Nations
The United Nations has issued a comprehensive new report on global human trafficking, focused on efforts at enforcement.
Highlights include the fact that reported cases of human trafficking, including forced labor and sexual exploitation, have been on the rise, and that women play a significant role in perpetrating human trafficking.
The Global Report on Trafficking in Persons acknowledges that “human trafficking” focuses on the exchange or transport of exploited persons, rather than on their exploitation over long periods, often years. But the report doesn’t mince words, describing human trafficking as enslavement and modern slavery.
The most commonly reported form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation, amounting to 79% of all such crimes. As a result, women constitute the majority of reported trafficking victims. Women also play a disproportionate role in perpetrating human trafficking, more so than for almost any other type of crime.
Forced labor constitutes 18% of reported trafficking, but the report notes that this form of slavery appears to be significantly under-reported. Law enforcement in many countries treats only sexual exploitation as human trafficking, and prosecutes forced labor (when that crime is prosecuted at all) under other laws.
Children make up nearly 20% of the victims of human trafficking, but are the majority of victims in parts of Southeast Asia and West Africa.
The United States reports the trafficking of men, women, and children across its borders from East Asia, Mexico, and Central America. Two-thirds of reported cases in the U.S. are for forced labor, but there are also cases of sexual exploitation.
Overall, reported cases of human trafficking worldwide increased 27% in the three years following the adoption of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons in 2003.
The report, issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, identifies several key problems in the detection and elimination of modern-day slavery, including the outright neglect of some countries, the fact that other nations are in denial, and that in other countries there is a lack of political will or suitable legal institutions to combat trafficking effectively.
The U.N. has also appointed Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino as a Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking.