EU Anti-Human Trafficking Day

As it is Anti-Trafficking Day today, I thought I would play my part in providing some basic facts on human trafficking.


Human trafficking involves recruitment, harbouring or transporting people into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence, deception or coercion and forced to work against their will. In short, it involves the exploitation and sale of people.

Human trafficking differs from human smuggling. Human smuggling involves the movement of people, usually across borders, for money (the persons being moved pay a fee for this service). Human trafficking is entirely involuntary. People are transported, usually but not always across borders, for exploitation and a fee to a purchaser. Human trafficking is a result of abduction and enforced slavery.

There are various industries within human trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labour or servitude, forced marriage, child marriage, forced criminality and organ removal. A handful will be discussed below.

51% of victims are female, 28% are children and 21% are male. Human trafficking affects a wide demographic, but the majority are women and children (mainly girls).

Some of the most prevalent areas of human trafficking are found in Asia and the Middle East. At the top of the list are Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe and Iraq.

Human trafficking is a major international criminal industry and makes a huge amount of money every year, more than the sale of drugs.


One of the most well known forms of human trafficking is sale into the sex trade. This affects mainly women and girls, though not exclusively. Women and children account for 96% of sex trafficking victims globally. 54% of human trafficking victims are sold with the intent of sexual exploitation. Approximately 2 million children are sexually exploited in human trafficking every year.

Not only is this on of the most known forms of human trafficking, it is also one of the most profitable globally. Sex trafficking makes an estimated $99 billion profit every year.

There have been various ways put forward to combat sex trafficking, most noticeably the decriminalization of prostitution in order for sex workers to be offered some protection. In numerous countries, including Ireland, prostitution has been decriminalized, instead criminalizing those who pay for sex rather than the sex workers themselves.

Raising awareness about risk factors is another way of combating sex trafficking. The most at risk are women, and young girls. Vulnerable young women in villages, towns and cities are often abducted, as well as single tourists. Being aware of high risk locations, such as those listed above, is an important part in combating the trade and protecting potential victims.

Equality Now is working tirelessly to end the sex trade, and protect the victims and survivors of the trade.


Forced labour is any work carried out, involuntarily, under the threat of punishment (usually physical). Forced labour can be as a result of slave trade, human trafficking and direct abduction. Workers could voluntarily enter labour employment only to become victims themselves, often through “employers” confiscating passports, threatening deportation or enslaving the victim.

Slavery is perhaps the most profitable form of human trafficking, earning a profit of $150 billion annually. Many industries criminally benefit from forced labour/servitude and slavery, including agriculture and fishing industries, construction, domestic servitude, begging and child workers.

Slavery is perhaps the most diverse in its victims with men, women and children being exploited in various industries. An estimated 40.3 million people are victim to forced labour/servitude and slavery around the world, Children account for 25% of victims (an estimated 10 million).

Anti-Slavery International has a lot of useful information and basic facts on modern day slavery, their mission is to eradicate modern slavery around the world.


Child marriage and forced marriage of women is another common form of human trafficking, often linked to sexual exploitation. It is estimated that 11% of women in the world were married before reaching 18 years of age. Child marriage is not exclusively a human trafficking issue, many cultural traditions allow for child marriage (particularly in Africa), but it is still part of the industry.

Child marriage usually affects girls, though not exclusively. Children are subjected to ownership within these marriages, usually resulting in domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and violence. The UN Special Rapporteur deemed child and forced marriage to be a form of modern day slavery in 2012.

Sale of wives, and slave trade, play a large part in child marriage and trafficking. Girls not Brides put forward interesting perspectives on child marriage and its link to slavery, as well as fighting to end child marriage around the world.


There are numerous attempts both on an international and national scale to end human trafficking. The most obvious method of ending trafficking is through raising awareness. Many people fall victim to trafficking through poverty but many are abducted due to high risk factors. Those most at risk of trafficking are the poor, homeless, tourists in high risk areas, refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable women and children.

Collaboration between states is of vital importance to end human trafficking. Strict international governing bodies on the sale of human beings is needed, with punishments, to prevent the growth of this already massive criminal industry. States must cooperate to protect the vulnerable and prevent abduction and trafficking of potential victims.

Support must also be made available to survivors of trafficking, as well as vigilance among national authorities to those at risk of trafficking and those who may have been trafficked.


Girls Not Brides: a very informative organisation on child marriage throughout the world. Individual country reports are available as well as UN reporting.

Anti-Slavery International: another good source for child marriage, as well as modern slavery and ways to combat this industry.

International Labour Organisation: a good source for information on forced labour and slavery in international law.

End Human Trafficking Now: Useful website for basic facts on human trafficking and the fight to end it.

End Human Trafficking: Run by Dr Sandie Morgan PhD, RN and Dave Stachowiak EdD, this blog posts podcasts on the ways to end human trafficking. Key points are available on each strategy.

Department of Justice & Equality: Irish Department of Justice and Equality’s stance against human trafficking.

Blue Blindfold: Irish organisation raising vigilance on human trafficking: “Don’t close your eyes to Human Trafficking”

Citizens Information: Irish citizens’ Information on human trafficking in Ireland.


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