Issue Brief on Trafficking

Sunday, January 1, 2006
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

One of the most serious challenges facing human rights today is the crime of human trafficking and its various dimensions, including organized crime, prostitution, security, migration, labour and health. Trafficking and sexual slavery are inextricably linked to conflict. Armed conflict increases the risk of women and girls being trafficked across international borders to be used in forced labour schemes that often include sexual slavery and/or forced prostitution. Trafficking flourishes in environments created by the breakdown of law and order, police functions and border controls during conflict, combined with globalization's free markets and open borders. A country is more likely to become a source of trafficking victims after sudden political change, economic collapse, civil unrest, internal armed conflict or natural disaster. Women and girls who are victims of international trafficking often find themselves forced into prostitution at brothels that service military forces stationed nearby. Members of peacekeeping operations have also been directly involved in trafficking. Refugee and internally displaced women and girls—especially in camp situations—are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse. Since the entry into effect of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in 2002, the trafficking of women in the context of armed conflict has been considered a war crime and a crime against humanity.

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