The trafficking and sex slavery industry itself is a multi-billion dollar business that transports and enslaves hundreds of thousands girls and women each year. Current statistics estimate that there are 4.5 million sex trafficking victims around the world: 98% of those are girls and women.103
Poverty and socio-economic inequalities create the ideal environment for trafficking and sex slavery to develop and flourish. With the exception of existing demand, which is fuelled by the vast amount of money that traffickers can earn, another key factor is poverty. Poverty, intended as a “lack of wellbeing,” is composed of different aspects, such as: financial resources, health-related well-being, accommodation, level of education, societal integration and family of origin.104
In some cases families will actually sell their daughters into sex slavery. In other cases the traffickers will lure girls from low economic settings with promises of employment in foreign countries. Once the girls are situated in the foreign country, instead of going to their respective promised jobs, they are sold. Throughout this entire process, girls and women are exposed to a wide range of emotional, physical and psychological abuse.105
Physical effects of trafficking and sex slavery can include:106
- Infections or mutilations
- Chronic back, hearing, cardiovascular or respiratory problems
- Malnourishment and serious dental problems
- Infectious diseases like tuberculosis
- Undetected or untreated diseases
- Bruises, scars and other signs of physical abuse and torture
- Substance abuse problems or addictions
Psychological effects of trafficking and sex slavery can include:107
- Anxiety and Stress Disorder
- Attachment Disorder
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Developmental Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Learning Disorders
- Impulse Control Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Personality Disorders
- Self-Harming Disorders
- Sleep Disorders
- Substance Abuse Disorders
For further definitions see Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons (ITEMP).
By developing programmes that focus on economic empowerment, including life skills training and financial literacy, especially for girls and women and other traditionally disadvantaged groups, we can increase their economic opportunities and contribute to risk reduction of trafficking and sex slavery.
Addressing sex trafficking also requires measures to prevent it, to deal with the perpetrators, and to care for the victims. Preventive measures can include:
- Empowering adolescent girls with information on risks and how to mitigate them
- Educating families and caretakers
- Providing educational, vocational, and employment opportunities for girls
- Undertaking education campaigns directed at potential victims
- Training teachers, youth workers or others to identify girls at high risk of being sold and working with those families and communities
- Pursuing and adopting legislation and providing education to reduce the demands that foster trafficking
- Establishing cooperative preventive programmes among sending, receiving and transit countries
Services for survivors of trafficking must address their immediate needs: protection, medical care, legal redress, housing, employment and counselling. They should not be penalised, criminalised or arrested. They should be assisted without conditions, regardless of their legal status or documents. Governments must prioritise and allocate sufficient resources to combating sex trafficking, and, over the long term, address its root causes, particularly poverty, gender inequality and discrimination. Sport programmes can provide spaces where trafficked children can reintegrate back into society, benefit from the positive emotional and physical impacts of sport, access medical care and counselling, and be educated on their rights as children.
Useful Example – Safe Alternatives
The Sports and Leadership Training Academy (SALT) in Cambodia provides the Mighty Girls programme that aims to realise the real value of jobs and participation in women’s football and prevent individual cases of human trafficking by empowering and supporting exceptional young female players in education and training. Battambang is a major source and transit hub for human trafficking, especially for uneducated girls from rural areas. Mighty Girls gives at-risk individual girls a safe alternative and provides opportunities for peer-to-peer education through coaching and outreach in schools and villages.
Useful Example - Saving Lives Through Dance
Kolkata Sanved was founded in 2004 on the belief that body movement, when used sensitively, could become a powerful tool for rehabilitation and advocacy. In India, Bangladesh and Nepal, Kolkata Sanved work with women who have been trafficked into forced prostitution - often stigmatised in their own communities – to release trauma, develop confidence and identify their own potential. Using dance their work offers the women opportunities to reclaim their bodies, heal their past and transform their lives. Kolkata Sanved's self generated curriculum, Sampurnata (completeness/fulfilment) trains survivors to become peer educators, advocates, trainers and performers, enabling them to lead a life with dignity and respect.
During the London Olympics 2012, Kolkata Sanved launched the "Transforming Steps: Stand with Survivors of Sex Trafficking, Stand Against Exploitation" programme. In collaboration with Living Lens, they worked with survivors of trafficking to produce a dance and video performance, which was performed at venues around London.
Useful Example – Kids’ Clubs
The Rehabilitation and Development Agency (RADA), in Sierra Leone, primarily targets school-aged children that are at-risk to child labour, smuggling, prostitution and trafficking, and those involved in domestic services. Kids' Clubs Anti-Child Trafficking, child-led advocacy and awareness raising groups, were established in five primary schools. These Kids' Clubs are involved in anti-child labour advocacy campaigns and peer education through media, drama, sport and outreach programmes. They also provide peer monitoring through regular home visits to areas prone to child trafficking and labour, and to schools. With the help of community members, more than 50 children who had been trafficked were traced, recovered and placed into educational systems according to their needs.
Adolescent Girl Life Skills: