Diversity & Intergration / Counter-Trafficking
Trafficking in persons: some estimates
The scale of human trafficking: some estimates
Due to the clandestine nature of human trafficking, accurate statistical data on the subject is difficult to come by. Collecting data on trafficking is complicated by the lack of anti-trafficking legislation in many countries as well as by the frequent reluctance of victims to report their experiences to the authorities. Research on human trafficking is rarely a priority at the governmental level which also makes data collection more difficult. As such, available figures on human trafficking are estimates only.
The U.S. government believes that 800,000 people are trafficked annually across international borders (U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2007). The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 2.5 million people worldwide are in a trafficking situation at any given time. According to the ILO, 43% of trafficking victims are used for commercial sexual exploitation, while 32% are used for forced economic exploitation. 25% of victims are used for a combination of forced exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation or for undetermined reasons (“Forced Labor and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits”, ILO, 2005). Furthermore, according to the latest ILO “Global Estimate of Forced Labour” (June 2012), 20.9 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, trapped in jobs into which they were coerced and which they cannot leave. 9.1 million victims of forced labour, 44% of the total, have moved either internally or internationally. This indicates that migration can be an important vulnerability factor. In this context, it has also been shown that forced sexual exploitation is strongly associated with cross-border movement. (“Global Estimate of Forced Labor”, ILO, 2012).
IOM is staunchly committed to the protection of victims of human trafficking. Within the framework of its counter-trafficking activities, the Organization has provided assistance to more than 20,000 victims of trafficking since 1994. According to IOM statistics, 62% of victims assisted in 2011 were female while 37% were male; in 1% of cases data on gender was not available. 62% of those assisted were over the age of eighteen while 36% were minors; in 2% of cases the age of the victim was unknown. 64% of assistance cases involved trafficking across international borders while 31% involved internal trafficking; 1% involved both cross-border and internal trafficking; in 4% of cases the nature of trafficking is not known. The majority of victims assisted were trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation (27%) and forced labour (53%) while 5% were trafficked for combined sexual and forced labour. Some victims were trafficked for other purposes such as forced marriage and organ trafficking (7%) or begging (5%). The nature of the exploitation remained unknown in 3% of the cases (IOM – Global Trafficking Data on Assisted Cases, 2012).
IOM advocates the prosecution of all forms of human trafficking and provides technical support in the development of counter-trafficking legislation, policies and procedures. Nevertheless effective prosecution of human trafficking offences remains a challenge due to the clandestine nature of the offence. In 2011 there were 7,909 prosecutions for human trafficking worldwide, with 3,969 convictions for the offence. 42,291 victims of human trafficking were identified in 2011 (U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2012).
 The definition of forced labour has been interpreted by the ILO to encompass trafficking in persons for the purpose of exploitation, however the figures do not include trafficking of adults or children for forced marriage, adoption or organ transplant. (“Global Estimate of Forced Labor ”, ILO, 2012).