Human trafficking is the illegal sale of human beings, as like commodities, in order to meet demand for forced labor and commercial sexual slavery. Unfortunately, trafficking in humans is one of the most profitable and lucrative illegal industries of the world. Human trafficking statistics are alarmingly high and have even gone higher in the past decade.
This industry is somehow in an indirect way connected to the illegal arms trade and also the illicit drug business. Sex slavery and commercial sexual exploitation constitutes the majority of the demand that drives human trafficking.
Women and children constitute a large proportion of the trafficking victims; this is again driven by the high demand of sexual exploitation and sex slavery. This sex tourism industry flourishes in most developing and third world nations.
Unrest in the Middle East has also promoted trafficking a great deal in that area, this is because women fleeing conflict areas find themselves turning to prostitution and a significant number of them are trafficked to other Middle Eastern countries as sex slaves or for sexual exploitation.
Gathering statistics of trafficking humans has been a problem. This is because the methodology of research and numbers given by independent organizations differ quite considerably from each other and also from international organizations with the mandate to conduct such statistical research. Some figures given are even fictitious. The method of conducting such research needs to be standardized so that correct and accurate figures are given and the scope of the problem can be clearly estimated. That being said however, the facts about trafficking of human beings are quite shocking.
For instance the ILO (International Labor Organization) estimates that in 2005 the global human trade industry made profits of over $31.6 billion. This is incentive enough to traffickers all over the world.
According to the OE CD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) the commercial sex exploitation industry and trafficking in general is one of the highest grossing illegal industries, along with arms trade and illicit drugs.
According to the International Labor Organization report, in 2002 children trafficked each year for forced labor and sexual exploitation had reached an estimated number of about 1.2 million. This number is alarmingly high considering it was almost a decade ago.
UNICEF has put down its estimated figure of trafficked children for sexual exploitation and forced labor to be approximately 6 million. A report on trafficking presented by the UN (United Nations) office on crime and drugs in 2009 gave the percentage break down of trafficked females, males and children as follows men =12%, children= 22%, women=66%.
The victims of trafficking in persons predominantly belong to Africa, Eastern Europe and Asian nationalities.
In Canada the Royal Canadian Mounted Police estimate that around 700 people are brought into Canada illegally each year mainly for the purpose of sexual slavery and commercial sex trade. They say that this estimate is based on actual historical statistics. Another alarming statistic brought forward by them is that over 2000 persons are brought into the US through Canada illegally.
There are as many as 50,000 persons consisting of women and children brought illegally into the United States from every corner of the world for forced labor and sexual exploitation each year.
In 2010, human trafficking statistics showed that over 700,000 women and children have been brought into the states illegally from the year 2000 up to the present.
Those trafficked into the Middle East are often put into forced labor and are forced to work for extended periods of time, sometimes up to sixteen hours without pay. They are also often subjected to beatings, forced sexual relations and forced abortions. Most of these victims end up dead before ever gaining their freedom.
Female victims of trafficking have often testified to the involvement of a law enforcement personnel or a high ranking officer in trafficking of humans, as many as 10% of the victims have testified to this.
Countries where trafficked victims are most likely to end up are Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Brazil, The Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Cambodia. There are also other countries involved either as transit points or points of origin for such victims.
Most victims are duped into believing that they are being employed by a prominent firm abroad. Sometimes women are courted by the trafficker who poses to be a spouse. Once the marriage takes place, they leave for a foreign country where the supposed spouse sells the girl for a high price.
Men and women can both be traffickers with women comprising 45% and men being the remaining 55%. This illegal trade is said to generate about 50% profits in the industrialized economies, 32% in the Asian countries and about 10% from the rest of the world.
Going by the statistics of the convictions and prosecutions globally that occurred in 2006 (5808 prosecutions and 3160 convictions) shows that for every 800 persons trafficked, only one is convicted. This is a discouraging ratio of 800:1.
The majority of trafficked victims knew their trafficker. They were either a family, a friend, a relative or a neighbor.
In the US, 244,000 children and youth are said to be at risk of sexual exploitation, in addition, 38,600 runaway/throwaway children are at risk of sexual exploitation, sexual slavery or forced labor. Their vulnerability cannot be overestimated. Over 1 million children are exploited by the commercial sex trade alone each year.
The average age of children going into prostitution is said to be around 12-14 years of age. This is according to statistics collected across the globe.
Trafficking of persons within the US has also surfaced occasionally. However, not much research has been conducted to determine the scope of the problem on the state level.
Statistics on trafficking of persons is often unavailable. This is due to the secretive nature of the crime and also the invisibility of the trafficked victims.. The major cause of this problem is the inconsistent definition of the crime and lack of a standard method of data collection. Funding for such data collection is often lacking as well and this leads to poorly collected information. That being said, it is clear that a lot more needs to be done to curb this menace. The current strategies are just not enough.