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Traded, trafficked, trapped

Flickr  Imagens Evangelicas (CC BY 2.0)

18 October 2014 - In each case, human tragedies, broken hopes and destroyed plans for a better life lie behind the statistics of human trafficking. United Nations human rights experts call for a concerted global response to fight the transnational scourge of trafficking in persons, speaking ahead of the European Anti-Trafficking Day on Saturday 18 October.

During the years 2010-2012, EU Member States registered 30,146 victims of trafficking in human beings. 80 percent of victims of trafficking were female, and over 1,000 child victims were registered as trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Trafficking is a grave violation of human rights, yet it remains pervasive because its eradication requires coordinated efforts to address its root causes. On occasions, the victim may not necessarily be kidnapped or forced from the beginning. But migrant smuggling often results either in a fatal or nightmarish journey, warn the experts.

Some migrants who managed to survive the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea ­– a journey that, according to a new IOM report, has claimed more than 3,000 lives­ this year alone – have been subsequently found in exploitative or even slavery-like conditions in European countries.

And all over the world, child trafficking – often connected to the sale and sexual exploitation of children – is on the rise as a proportion of all human trafficking. And, in recent years, the increase has been greater for girls: two out of every three child victims are young girls.


Increasing efforts to stop and punish traffickers and smugglers

Efforts to stop and punish traffickers and smugglers are critical, but it is also important that they do not come at the cost of migrants rights, underscore the UN experts. In certain context, police operations might have the unintended consequence of pushing migrants deeper into clandestinity, thus entrenching criminal rings and exploitative employers.

Efforts are, however being increased. In Europe, with the adoption of the EU Anti-trafficking Directive in 2011, courts all over Europe are now judging crimes relating to human trafficking as equally severe, with common prison sentences, and EU countries are obliged to provide proper support to victims. Also, the EU 2012-2016 Strategy on Trafficking in human beings sets out 40 concrete and practical measures against trafficking in human beings, putting the protection and rights of the victims at the forefront.

 Key figures in the EU

  • 30,146 victims were registered in the 28 EU Member States over the three years 2010-2012.

  • 80% of registered victims were female.

  • 16% of registered victims were children. Over 1,000 child victims were registered as trafficked for sexual exploitation.

  • Over 70% of traffickers were male. This is the case for suspects, prosecutions and convicted traffickers.

  • 8,551 prosecutions for trafficking in human beings were reported by Member States over the three years 2010-2012.

  • 3,786 convictions for trafficking in human beings were reported by Member States over the three years.


Read also…

In Focus on trafficking

UNODC's Blue Hart Campaign against Trafficking

UNRIC's Slavery isn’t gone, it just changed name

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