According to the U.S. FBI, human trafficking, specifically women trafficking and sex slavery is estimated to generate a revenue of approximately 9.5 billion dollars annually, making human trafficking the 2nd largest criminal industry in the world today. Unfortunately it’s impossible to be sure of these numbers (women trafficking and sex slavery statistics are difficult to track and quantify) but the estimated cost is probably higher than estimated. woman trafficking is defined as the exploitation of women (within or across national and international borders) for the purpose of forced labor. Anywhere between 12.3 million and 27 individuals are subjected to human trafficking and enslaved into bonded labor, sexual servitude, or involuntary servitude at any point in time.
The term “trafficking” or “women trafficking” is most frequently used to describe this form of prostitution, but sex slavery is a more accurate term. Sex trafficking, or the trafficking of women and girls is slavery’s new face—women and girls are purchased at cheap prices and sold at a large profit margin to serve as disposable slaves.
Women trafficking, and the sex trafficking of women and girls is the most prevalent type of human trafficking—approximately 79% of all human victims are female. Women trafficking takes place both within nation boundaries and internationally and appears to be growing in magnitude as globalization makes it possible for more countries to transport victims between countries. Because it’s now easier to move people around the globe, the problem of women trafficking continues to flourish.
There’s a link between women trafficking and prostitution—both are caused by the demands of men who are willing to buy, sell, and trade women for sexual pleasure. As long as men throughout the world create a demand for women trafficking, this will be met by pimps, woman traffickers, and other criminals who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of women and girls for profit. At the absolute root of woman trafficking is gender inequality—the idea that women and girls are commodities to be bought and sold for the purposes of others.
Unfortunately, the majority of countries lack anti-trafficking laws or legislation necessary to address the problem of sex slavery. Even countries with anti-trafficking laws in place do not enforce them. Very few cases of sexual trafficking are ever prosecuted, and still fewer of those result in actual convictions. The women and girls subject to sex slavery and sex trafficking often are ashamed to seek help, and the corruption of law enforcement prevents victims from approaching both local and national authorities. When trafficking circles are broken up, women and girls are treated as illegal immigrants, not as victims of trafficking by police and are usually deported back to their home countries. With few alternatives, these women find themselves back in the cycle of trafficking and exploitation once again. Instead of incriminating women who were initially forced into prostitution, law enforcement should provide them with the treatment and support they need.
As long as men buy, sell, and exploit women through prostitution and sex slavery, gender inequality will continue to flourish. The root of women trafficking is gender-based discrimination and inequality, a system where men are able to sexually exploit women without interference from law enforcement, society, or culture because of racism, abuse, and poverty. The demand for paid sex drives the sex slavery market—there will always be a supply to meet the demand. Sex slavery, sexual trafficking, and prostitution will continue until demands cease.
The goal is to stop women trafficking and sex slavery before it starts. Women rescued from sex slavery and woman traffickers benefit from both support and resources when rebuilding their lives. This includes job training, education, psychological help, and frequently translators. Organizations provide programs to assist women in need of financial support by providing resources necessary to improve skills, education, and employment prospects. Opportunity awards for women assist in rebuilding their lives.
If interested in supporting local organizations work to improve the lives of women and girls who have fallen victim to women trafficking, there are many ways to help. Learn more about how you can raise awareness about sex trafficking and sex slavery and help women fight poverty, exploitation, and victimization.
Erica Ronchetti is a freelance writer for Soroptimist International of the Americas, an organization working to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world.Learn more about sex slavery and woman trafficking and how you can stop sex slavery and raise awareness at Soroptimist.org.