Human trafficking – the modern form of slavery – is a barbaric crime whose victims are overwhelmingly female.
Eighty per cent of those trafficked are women and children, with the majority sold into the sex industry.
It is a crime which cannot be seen in isolation. Trafficking feeds on the disadvantages and prejudices women face across the world.
When women and girls are viewed as inferior, as commodities rather than equals, where there is poverty and despair, we see the conditions where trafficking is able to flourish.
Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims.
Two hundred years after the world took the first steps to end the transatlantic slave trade, human trafficking continues on a huge scale. Today more people, including children, are enslaved than ever before.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that a staggering 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking at any one time. It is the fastest growing organised crime, affecting every country and generating 9.5 billion dollars in annual revenue. Only the illegal drugs and arms trades are more profitable.
The majority of trafficked victims are women and children who are tricked, coerced or sold, most often by people they know, into domestic service, forced labour in fields and factories and the sex trade – a life sentence of degradation, violence and high risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted disease.