teenager stretching his hands for help

Most victims are trafficked within their country’s borders, and those trafficked abroad are usually moved to the richest countries. Picture: Pexels

Today is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. This day was set aside by the United Nations in 2013 to highlight and put an end to what is essentially modern-day slavery.

Did you know that children make up about a third of all victims of human trafficking. They are forced into beings child labourers, child soldiers and sex workers by criminals out to exploit people for profit.

Covid-19 adds to the risk of more people dragged into forced labour due to job losses, growing poverty, school closures and more online interactions where vulnerable people can easily become victims.

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According to Ghada Waly, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), this year’s theme will focus on the work of first responders; social workers, labour inspectors, law enforcement officers and prosecutors, health workers and NGO staff – who identify victims and help them on their path to justice and with rebuilding their lives.

“As we work together to overcome the global pandemic, countries need to keep shelters and hotlines open, safeguard access to justice and prevent more vulnerable people from falling into the hands of organised crime,” Waly said.

People are trafficked for sexual exploitation; forced into labour, begging or marriage; for selling children as child soldiers, as well as for removal of organs.

Since 2013, the UNODC has documented about 225 000 individuals exploited worldwide in this way.

  • Women make up 49% and girls 23% of all victims of trafficking
  • Sexual exploitation is the most common form of exploitation (59%)
  • Forced labour (34%)

Most victims trafficked within their country’s borders, and those trafficked abroad, are usually moved to the richest countries.