The following is an excerpt from an original WANGO article by Joanna Moshman published in the 2009 Winter Issue of Beyond Boundaries. Footnote references have been removed from this excerpt. The  full article is available to WANGO members in Beyond Boundaries.


Trafficking in persons (TIP), a threat to the lives and rights of human beings, is a multi-dimensional phenomenon occurring worldwide. The most recent United States Trafficking Report (June 2008), estimates that 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked across international borders each year. In actuality, the number of persons trafficked is substantially higher; the Trafficking in Persons Report by the U. S. Department of State does not include the vast numbers of people trafficked within their own countries. Human trafficking is also severely under-reported because of its highly illegal nature and because victims are often times too afraid to report such a heinous crime.


Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations estimate the actual number of trafficked persons to be at least two million. The International Labor Organization (ILO) associated with the United Nations (UN) gauges that there are about “12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude at any given time.” Despite any ambiguities in these numbers, two statistics are agreed upon: approximately 80 percent of the victims are girls and women and about 50 percent are children.


What is Human Trafficking?


Human trafficking is seen as “modern day slave trading.” The UN defines Trafficking in Persons (TIP) as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons” by means of threat, coercion, or fraud for the “purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include…the exploitation of the prostitution of others…forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery…[and] servitude.” Thus, there are two forms of TIP: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sexual exploitation includes “abuse within the commercial sex industry,” while exploitation through labor includes “traditional chattel slavery, forced labor, and debt bondage.” They both involve moving a person from one place to another through force, coercion, and violence to exploit a person for profit. Victims are subjected to one or both of these forms.



....  There is no country that is immune from human trafficking. Southeast Asia is a flourishing trafficking market, especially for sexual exploitation. Women are particularly targeted in countries like Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma where they have low social status and very limited opportunities for employment. These countries are popular sources, transits, and destinations for human trafficking. The UN estimates that about 200,000 women and children from Nepal are trafficked to the U.S. annually and are “held in servitude, including for domestic work, prostitution, or agricultural labor.” The U.S., Australia, and Europe are primarily destination countries, but are used for some transit as well. Many victims in the U.S. and Australia come from Southeast Asia, China, and South Korea, while Europe’s victims come primarily from the Balkans.

            All 53 African nations also deal with human trafficking. Their main victims are children between the ages of 12 and 16, who are often recruited as soldiers and prostitutes, forced into armed conflict and sold as purity brides. Studies have shown that about a third of African countries are trafficking humans to Europe, while a quarter is sent to Middle Eastern Arab states.