Trafficking of Children and Women for Sexual Purposes

Traffickingof Children and Women for Sexual Purposes


Thispaper focused on the study of factors contributing to the increase intrafficking of children and women for sexual purposes. Trafficking ofpersons for sexual purposes is an organized crime that was started bythe Babylonians and Sumerians, but it has evolved over the years tothe present times when the internet is used to trap victims. Thecrime is facilitated by well established networks of criminals withroots in more than one country. It is estimated that 20.7 people aretrafficked and forced into commercial sex every year, where 98 % ofthem are children and women. Efforts applied by the internationalcommunity to fight this crime include the formulation of theinternational laws, international policy guidelines, regionallegislation, and extensive crime investigations. The paper recommendsthat the first responders should be adequately trained, adequateresources be allocated to agencies fighting the human traffickingcrime, and international as well as bilateral cooperation beenhanced.

Keywords: Human trafficking, international community, protocols,conventions, international laws, organized crime.

Traffickingof Children and Women for Sexual Purposes

Traffickingof human beings for sex purposes is one of the key obstacles thatprevent the achievement of social equality, enjoyment of humanrights, and gender equality. Zimmerman &amp Stockl (2014) defineshuman trafficking as the process of recruiting, transferring,transporting, harboring, and receiving human beings by the use offorce, threats, abduction, deceit, fraud, or abuse of power ofvulnerability the objective of exploiting the trafficked person.Although it is widely believed that trafficking of persons for sexpurposes affect women, a study has shown that children, both boys andgirls, and some of the major victims of this crime (Sabuni, 2009). Itis evident that trafficking of children and women is for sex purposesis the most contemporary form of slavery. This type of crime hascontinued to thrive in spite of the existence of both internationaland local interventions to curb it. This paper will address theextent of the crime, its operation, changes in patterns, currentlegal interventions, law enforcement, and recommend the interventionsthat can improve the war of children and women trafficking.


Traffickingof human beings for sex was started by the Babylonians and Sumeriansbefore spreading to other parts of the world in the middle ages (TheWhite Rose Movement, 2014). The increase in the popularity of thewestern tourism and the concept of globalization created anopportunity for sex trade to boom during the last half of thetwentieth century. Some early churches (such as the Roman Catholicdemonstrated some level of tolerance to towards the sex trade becausethe church perceived that the selling women and young girls was aviable solution to moral issues of sodomy and rape (The White RoseMovement, 2014). The first regulations were formulated in Europe inthe fifteenth century following the outbreak of syphilis. Since thenthe national governments and the international organized have beenformulating different legal and policy measures with the objective ofcurtailing sex trade, but the enterprise seems to be inexorable. Someof the most common methods used in trafficking women include theissue of educational or work permits, using tourists, and smugglingnetworks. Women and children who are issued with training or workpermits are kept in the destination beyond the permitted duration,which results in the expiration of their visa and end up beingdependent on their masters. However, others are retained in theforeign countries by the use of force.

Sextrade operations

Thebusiness of trafficking children and women for sex has evolved formany years to an extent of being classified as one of the mostorganized and violent criminal enterprises in the world. In mostcases, the abducted children and women are locked up in brothels orrooms for a certain period, terrorized, drugged, and raped repeatedly(Rodriguez &amp Hill, 2011). The primary objective of molesting thevictims is to intimidate them, make them easy to control, and ensurethat they speak the ill of their traffickers even if they areprovided with an opportunity to escape. The victims are then forcedto engage in prostitution, but the trafficker takes the money. Sometraffickers subject their victims to gang rape and supply them withhard drugs to ensure that they engage in prostitution for theirfinancial gain. In essence, human traffickers do everything possibleto take both the physical and psychological control of their victims.The use of the internet to conduct sex trade has significantlycontributed towards the trafficking of children and women for sexpurposes. According to Sabuni (2009) some traffickers use socialnetwork sites to organize dates with potential victims and eventuallykidnap them. Although the victims’ intention is to develop trustedrelationships, accepting blind dates subject them to the riskengaging in prostitution by force.

Theextent of the children and women trafficking crime

Traffickingof children and women is a business that is illegal in nature. Thismakes it difficult to obtain reliable data pertaining to the keyissues (such as the severity of the human trafficking activities andthe range of activities) surrounding the crime (Zimmerman &ampStockl, 2014). This implies that nearly all the available data areestimates. The major victims of this crime (women and children) areeither trafficked across the international borders or within theirrespective countries. However, the majority of this organized crimeis international. Currently, the children and women sex traffickingranks as the fastest growing enterprise of organized crime andposition three in the list of the largest criminal businesses in theworld (Rodriguez &amp Hill, 2011). Most of the victims are collectedfrom Southeast and South Asia, South and Central America, and severalregions of the former Soviet Union and taken to the developedcountries, including North America, Middle East, and West Europe.This means that women and child sex trafficking affects nearly allparts of the world, but it involve the movement of victims from thedeveloping to the developed world.

Statisticsshow that approximately 20.7 people are sold and forced intocommercial sex globally every year, but 98 % of them are children andwomen (Equality Now, 2014). The study revealed that about 2 millionunderage children are introduced into the commercial sex each year.This suggests that about 6 out of 10 children who are traffickedlocally and internationally are sold solely for commercial sex. Onaverage, the victim can be forced into sexual intercourse up to 20-48times within a period of24 hours (The Covering House, 2014). At alocal level, the United States is one of the countries with thehighest number of vulnerable persons. According to The White RoseMovement (2014) about 293,000 youths in America are at the risk ofbeing sold as victims of commercial sex. Most of these potentialvictims live in the streets and come from families that haveabandoned or abused them in the past. Organized networks of criminalstransport these vulnerable victims using different means, includingplanes, cars, trucks, and vans. Children and women sex trafficking isa serious organized crime that is carried out by established networksof criminals, which makes it difficult to control.

Effortsto combat trafficking of children and women for sexual reasons

Humantrafficking, especially the trafficking of people for sexual purposesis an issue of concern to everyone in the world. Containing thiscrime requires the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders,including the international organization and the local authorities.Efforts that have been applied in the past can be categorized intothree, namely the international laws, international policyguidelines, regional legislation, and extensive crime investigations.

Internationallaws on sex trafficking

Themain objective of the international law is to formulate a standarddefinition of sex trafficking, prevent the crime, and prosecute theculprits. The UN convention against Transnational Organized Crime(UNCTOC) and two of the UN protocols are the most relevant internallaws that address the issue of trafficking of children and women forsexual purpose. The first protocol is referred to as the UNTrafficking Protocol. This protocol addresses different forms ofexploitation, including sexual exploitation of persons under the ageof 18 years and women (Dottridge, 2008). In addition, the protocolrenders the child consent irrelevant on the grounds that minors arenot competent to make serious decision, such as the decision toengage in prostitution.

Thesecond UN protocol is known as the UN Optional Protocol on the Saleof Children, Children Prostitution, and Child Pornography. Althoughthe title of the protocol does not indicate its focus on child andwomen trafficking, its preamble articulates concerns of the increasein the international trafficking of children and their subsequent useas sex objects and characters in pornographic films (Dottridge,2008). The Optional Protocol controls trafficking of children byrequiring the state each state organ to prohibit all forms of childabuse that are associated with trafficking. For example, Article 3.1of the protocol states that the state parties should use their penallaw to prohibit different forms of abuse (including sexual abuse)associated with child trafficking. Article 9.3 requires the stateparties to facilitate the recovery (psychological and physical) ofchildren who have already been victimized (Dottridge, 2008). Theseprotocols indicate the commitments by the international community tofight the trafficking of children and women for sexual reasons and tosave the victims.

Someinternal laws classify the use of children and women for prostitutionas one of the types of forced labor. For example, Convention Number182 adopted by the international labor organization identifies theacts of offering, procuring, or using children in prostitution as oneof the worst form of child labor (Dottridge, 2008). This conventionwas adopted by the ILO in 1999 with the main objective of ensuringthat immediate actions were taken to eliminate different forms ofchild labor that the organization considered to be the worst. Theconvention equates the use of children for prostitution to slavery.In addition, the convention prohibits the use of children inpornographic performances and the production of pornographic films ormagazines.

Guidelineson sex trafficking as issued by the international organizations

Mostof the international organizations address controversial issues byissuing guidelines to different states on the most appropriatelegislative changes that can resolve the problem. United Nations haveissued the necessary guidelines to states advising them on how humantrafficking, especially children and women trafficking can be stoppedand how the victims can be assisted (Dottridge, 2008). Some of theguidelines are issued to address the issue in the most affectedregions. For example, UNICEF has issued guidelines to address theincrease in the rate of child trafficking for sexual purposes in theSouthern Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights alsoissued some guidelines that emphasized on the primacy of the rightsof all human beings (Dottridge, 2008). The primary objective ofissuing these guidelines is to provide support and advisory servicesto the target state agencies on the best laws and practices that canaddress the issue of sex trafficking more effectively.


Differentstates as well as regional trading blocs have adopted the guidelinesprovided by international organizations and used them to formulateregulations that help in fighting local and international traffickingof human beings. However, different countries have the right to altersome aspects of the guidelines, including the definition of humantrafficking to address the specific challenges they face. TheInternational Agreement to Fight Trafficking of Persons is an exampleof regional interventions that was formulated by ECOWAS to combattrafficking of people in West African countries (Dottridge, 2008).The law has also been adopted by the Economic Community of CentralAfrican States. The law is based on the definitions and guidelinescontained in the UN Trafficking Protocol.

Apartfrom the policies and legislation made by international organizationsand trading blocs, some developed countries have the capacity to makelegislation that can address the international dimensions of childrenand women trafficking. For example, the Trafficking VictimsProtection Act, which was passed by the Congress of the UnitedStates, is perceived to be a comprehensive law that has an impact onthe organized crime of human trafficking at local as well as theinternational levels (The White Rose Movement, 2014). The lawprovides the government with three approaches to control humantrafficking. First, the law enables the government to control humantrafficking by enhancing public awareness overseas and issuing ofsanctions to foreign countries and individuals who support humantrafficking. This prevents human trafficking within the United Statesand in other countries that wish to partner with the United States indifferent ways, such as trade. Secondly, TVPA protects foreignvictims by issuing them with T Visa. Third, TVPA gives severepunishment to suspects who are found guilty of trafficking childrenand women for sexual purposes.

Extensiveinvestigation of sex trafficking

Currently,most of the investigations are conducted by individual countries withminimum cooperation between states. The United State Immigration andCustoms Enforcement (ICE) is an example of the crime investigationagencies formed by individual governments to conduct illegalimmigration at global levels. According to Rodriguez &amp Hill(2011) ICE targets the criminal infrastructure (including money,people, and material) that provide support to trafficking networksglobally. However, the information obtained from the globalinvestigation efforts is only used to prevent trafficking of humanbeings within the United States. Others channels that the governmentgets information about the trafficking of children and women for sexinclude unexpected encounters with sex trafficking operations whendealing with cases of runaway and homeless juveniles, police patrols,and deployment of detectives. It is evident that most of theinvestigations are directed towards curtailing the crime oftrafficking children and women for sexual reasons at local level orwithin individual countries.

Enforcementof laws on human trafficking

Despitethe efforts applied by the international community and individualgovernments in formulating laws that aim at preventing trafficking ofchildren and women for commercial sex, this type of organized crimehas been increasing with time. A study has shown that the majorimpediment to prevention of this crime is under-compliance with theinternal laws (King, 2011). The rate of compliance is measured usingdifferent variables, such as ratification, signature, and enforcementof these international protocols. States that sign and ratify theinternational protocols are subject to review and monitoring by theinternational organizations that ensures that the signatories complywith the provisions of the international conventions. Lack of fullcompliance with the anti-trafficking laws is mainly caused by threefactors. First, most of the victims (including children and women)are not willing to identify their traffickers because they fearrepercussions from ruthless traffickers (King, 2011). This denies thelaw enforcers sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspectedtraffickers, which gives them the confidence to proceed with theirorganized crimes.

Secondly,inadequate training of the first responders reduces the capacity ofthe government agencies to prevent trafficking of children and womenfor sexual purposes. According to Avramoff, Domaradzki, Dzaferovic,Hovis, Markov (2013) lack of awareness and understanding among thefirst responders is one of the key barriers to the enforcement of thecurrent anti-trafficking laws. This affects all countries, includingthose that have adopted anti-trafficking laws because policeofficers, federal agents, and border patrol agents are not versed indomestic and international laws.

Third,lack of adequate resources limits the capacity of law enforcementagents to track the trafficking networks that transcends the nationalborders. The wide geographical coverage and a high level oforganization as well as planning involved in trafficking of childrenand women make the process of law enforcement expensive in terms oftime, finance, and energy (King, 2011). This means that a mereexistence of anti-trafficking laws is not sufficient, but there is aneed to allocate adequate resources to ensure success in the processof enforcing the laws.

Conclusionand recommendations

Traffickingof children and women for sex is a global challenge that seems to beincreasing in spite of the efforts applied in the formulation ofinternal and regional laws to fight the crime. Although sex trade hasbeen taking place for centuries, trafficking of children and womenfor sex have increased tremendously in the recent past. Some of thekey factors that have hindered the war on trafficking of children andwomen include the high level of organization of the traffickingnetworks, wider geographical coverage, lack of adequate resources andtraining among the first responders, and limited international aswell as bilateral coordination of the stakeholders in the securitysector. These factors have hindered the process of the implementationof a large number of the internal and regional laws that have alreadybeen formulated to prevent trafficking of children and women for sex.This means that the war on trafficking of children and women for sexand be successful if the key issued reducing compliance with theinternational and regional protocols are adequately addressed.

Thepresent study makes three recommendations that can help in improvingthe war on trafficking of children and women for sexual use. First,the stakeholders in the security sector should embark on theinternational and bilateral cooperation in order to preventtrafficking of persons, which is conducted by criminals with globalor regional networks. It is evident that the international communityhas managed to formulate many policy guidelines and protocols, buttheir efforts have not stopped the trafficking of children and womenin the world. This is because each country implements theanti-trafficking laws individually with minimum cooperation withother states where the trafficking network has roots. Coordinatedinvestigation, arrest, and prosecution of traffickers can wipe outthe trafficking networks and resolve the issue of children and womentrafficking for sexual purposes.

Secondly,the stakeholders in the security sector should provide adequatetraining of the security officers who are given the responsibility ofstopping the trafficking of children and women for sex. The presentstudy has identified that lack of adequate training of the firstresponders is one of the key impediments to the implementation of theinternal and state anti-trafficking laws. This implies thattrafficking of children and women for sex can be prevented byincreasing responders’ awareness and understanding of the availableanti-trafficking laws. Training should be given to all officers whomay encounter trafficked victims, including border control, lawenforcement, airport officials, labor inspectors, and consulatesworking in offices that issue visas. Training should focus onsegments that can increase officials’ awareness of of the culturalmindset that can help them view the victims as potential defendants.

Third,the international community should focus on increasing the amount ofresources dedicated towards the war on trafficking of children andwomen for sex and coordination of donors. The war on trafficking ofhuman beings is complex and expensive given the fact that traffickingis conducted in a very organized manner and by networks of criminalsoperating in more than one country. Consequently, the governmentagencies given the responsibility of tracking and destroying thetrafficking networks should be adequately funded. In addition,coordination of donors, especially at the international level shouldbe enhanced in order to reduce fragmentation of financial aid, whichhas reduced effectiveness in the past. Helping donors to committhemselves to a pragmatic approach to burden sharing and division oflabor will lower transaction costs, which will in turn reduce theimpairment of aid fragmentation.


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