Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

An eight-year-old girl hides her face in a UNICEF-supported center that provides temporary care and support for trafficked children while authorities search for their parents in Haiti. If their parents cannot be traced they are placed in longer-term care.
©UNICEF/UNI121794/Dormino
Girls & Women

Record Number of Girls Reported as Human Trafficking Victims: UN


Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Human trafficking strips people of their basic human rights and makes it extremely difficult for them to escape poverty. A new UN report found the number of reported trafficking victims is on the rise. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

The number of girls reported as human trafficking victims has risen, according to a new report released Monday, UN News reports

Young women and girls tend to be pushed into sexual exploitation, while boys are usually forced into labor, according to the report.  

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

Of all the trafficking victims reported globally in 2016, 23% are girls, according to the “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2018,” published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Monday.

In contrast, boys made up 7% of reported trafficking victims, which isn’t a drastic change from 2014 when data was last collected, and boys made up 8% of reported trafficking victims. In 2004, boys made up 3% of reported trafficking victims. 

Since the UNODC has been keeping a record in 2004, girls have always been trafficked at a higher rate — they accounted for 21% of victims in 2014, and 10% in 2004. 

"In the profile of identified victims, we are seeing more and more children, an increase particularly in girls," Angela Me, chief of the UNODC's research and trend analysis branch explained to CNN.

When children have been trafficked, they often end up miss out on receiving an education and get stuck in a cycle of poverty and slavery. 

"This report shows that we need to step up technical assistance and strengthen cooperation, to support all countries to protect victims and bring criminals to justice, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," said Yury Fedotov, executive director of UNODC.

The good news is the uptick in reported trafficking might reflect better detection of trafficked people around the world, rather than an actual increase, according to the UN. But it’s unknown how many people aren’t reporting their experiences.

"Girls who have been trafficked don't report what's happened to them because of shame and fear," Magdalena Fueres, head of Union of Peasant and Indigenous Organizations of Cotacachi in Ecuador, pointed out to the global charity Their World in 2017. 

The UN report found almost three-quarters of all detected trafficking victims in 2016 were women and girls —  94% of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and 35% are trafficked for forced labor. 

Women and girls who are trafficked face high rates of physical and sexual violence, mental and physical health issues, according to the American Psychological Association. 

Read More: One-Third of Trafficked Humans Are Kids, UN Says

Populations living in areas affected by armed conflict in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are especially vulnerable to human trafficking, according to the report. Traffickers take advantage of people living in poverty to source victims for sexual exploitation, forced marriage, to recruit child soldiers, and force labor. 

Those fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Myanmar are also at risk. Children become especially vulnerable when they are separated from their families and end up traveling alone. In the Middle East, girls and young women living in refugee camps are commonly married off without their consent and are sexually exploited in neighboring countries. 

Although trafficking reporting is up, convictions are still low around the world.

"There are now a whole bunch of countries that have new legislation so are more equipped from a legislative point of view to criminalize and to prosecute and at the same time to protect the victims," Me told CNN.