Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is the most detected form of trafficking globally. Victims trafficked for sexual exploitation comprised 59 per cent of the detected victims in 2016. One victim out of three detected was trafficked for forced labour, and seven per cent of detected victims were trafficked for other purposes.
Share of forms of exploitation among detected trafficking victims, 2016 (or most recent)
Number of detected trafficking victims, by form of exploitation and region of detection, 2016 (or most recent)
The detected forms of exploitation vary widely across the different subregions. In 2016, trafficking for the purpose of forced labour was the most frequently detected form in Southern, East and West Africa, and the countries of the Middle East.
In South Asia as well as in Central Asia, trafficking for forced labour and for sexual exploitation were detected in near-equal proportions. Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation was the most detected form in all European subregions, in North and Central America and the Caribbean, and in East Asia and the Pacific. In North Africa, other forms of exploitation, such as exploitative child begging, were more frequently detected than other forms.
Shares of detected trafficking victims, by form of exploitation, by subregion of detection, 2016 (or most recent)
As for other forms of exploitation, trafficking for the removal of organs remains very limited in terms of numbers of detected victims. About 100 victims of trafficking for organ removal were detected and reported to UNODC during the 2014-2017 period. Victims were all adults. This is related to the nature of that type of trafficking, which targets adult bodies with fully developed organs.
Some two thirds of these victims were men. Most of these victims were reported by countries in North Africa and the Middle East, but cases have also been recorded in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Central and South America.
The data collected also refer to other forms of exploitations not specifically listed in the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, but considered by national legislations or jurisprudence as forms of trafficking.
UNODC has categorised these other forms as labelled by the national authorities. Data for 2016 indicate that some 2 per cent of the victims detected globally were trafficked for ‘mixed forms of exploitation’, such as victims exploited both sexually and in forced labour, or exploited in begging as well as in criminal activity (often carrying out petty crimes). Pregnant women trafficked to sell their new-born babies or trafficking in babies accounted for about 0.5 per cent of the victims detected in 2016.
Similar numbers were recorded for trafficking for forced criminal activity and trafficking for forced marriages, whereas trafficking for the purpose of exploitative begging accounted for about 1 per cent of the detected victims.
Other reported forms of exploitation are trafficking for the production of pornographic material and trafficking of children for use as child soldiers.
While the numbers of detections are low, many of the ‘other’ forms of exploitation are geographically widespread.
Trafficking for the purpose of exploitative begging, for example, was reported by about 20 countries in all the regions considered in this report. Trafficking for forced marriages was reported by a dozen countries across all regions. Trafficking for the purpose of criminal activity is mainly reported by countries in Europe and North America.
Trafficking for mixed forms of exploitation is mainly reported by countries in the Americas, while trafficking of children for use as armed combatants is reported in a number of conflict and post-conflict countries.
As these less commonly reported forms of exploitation are not explicitly mentioned in the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, the distribution of these trafficking cases may whether or not be related to national authorities recognise these situations as forms of trafficking.
Data from countries providing the information on victims’ profile by forms of exploitation show that traffickers target victims according to the purpose of their intended exploitation.
Share of detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, by age group and sex profiles, 2016 (or most recent)
The vast majority of the detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation are females, in particular women (68 per cent), while girls account for 26 per cent. Males – boys and men in equal proportions - together account for some 6 per cent of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The gender profiles of detected victims who are trafficked for forced labour are more diverse, although men comprise the largest share. About 35 per cent of these victims are females - more women than girls - while boys made up some 10 per cent. Child victims - boys and girls - account for nearly 30 per cent of the detected victims of both trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labour.
Share of detected victims of trafficking for forced labour, by age group and sex profiles, 2016 (or most recent)
Compared to trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour, far fewer victims of trafficking for ‘other’ purposes are detected. Additionally, these forms are very diverse, ranging from trafficking for forced marriage to forced criminal activities. It appears that most trafficking for ‘other’ purposes targets children to a greater extent than the other forms of exploitation. Age and sex profiles of the victims – women, men, girls and boys - and the form of exploitation among each group of victims was reported by 54 countries in different parts of the world. The information from these countries confirms the patterns resulting from the general analysis: most victims detected in 2016 were adult women (about 45 per cent), and to a lesser extent girls, who were trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Share of detected victims of trafficking for ‘other’ forms of exploitation, by age group and sex profiles, 2016 (or most recent)
Share of detected victims of trafficking, by profile and forms of exploitation, 2016 (or most recent)
Exploratory studies on the hidden part of trafficking, however, indicate that trafficking in women for sexual exploitation is the most prevalent form of trafficking.
IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons / official photographer of the US Embassy in Ghana [Public domain]