For information only - not an official document
7 March 2014
Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov:
Statement on International Women's Day
8 March 2014
VIENNA, 8 March (United Nations Information Service) - International Women's Day offers an ideal opportunity to highlight the vulnerability of women and girls to human trafficking across the world.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012, women account for up to 60 per cent of this vile crime's global victims. When the figures for women and girls are joined together they account for as much as 75 per cent of the total figure.
Around 58 per cent of all trafficking cases involve trafficking for sexual exploitation; some 36 per cent are trafficked for forced labour. Traffickers, in general, tend to be adult males and drawn from the country where they operate; however, some 30 per cent of prosecuted traffickers are also female.
Women's vulnerability to human trafficking is often deeply embedded in their societies and their treatment of women. This environment can make women and girls easy prey for the criminal networks who derive profit from pain, misery and impoverishment. Grooming individuals and luring them with false promises is also relatively easy, especially because detection rates are low.
In some parts of the world, women also have fewer rights than men and may be denied education and work opportunities, or access to a rule of law that is attuned to fairness and justice. Traffickers are also adept at exploiting gender differences such as physical strength with women far more susceptible than men to violence or its threat.
If we are truly serious about confronting the trafficking of women and girls, we must also work closely with the potential victims. The UN Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking is assisting by providing grassroots funding for non-governmental organizations to work with human trafficking victims, as well as preventing vulnerable groups from becoming victims.
Another key instrument is the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. The Convention has an additional protocol to: "Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children", which serves to stress the importance of supporting women and children.
To assist in the struggle against human trafficking, we need to work with individual nations to adopt and implement both the Organized Crime Convention and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. But, this is simply the start, authorities everywhere need an integrated approach that shares information, enhances coordination and conducts joint operations across borders. This needs to be closely tied to the promotion of justice and good governance, as well as work on money laundering and anti-corruption activities.
There is also a need to understand that human trafficking represents a development challenge. We cannot achieve true success against this modern form of slavery without helping to lift people out of the economic plight that makes them so vulnerable.
On International Women's Day, I call on nations to help end the truly shameful crime of human trafficking for everyone, including women and girls. By doing so, we will be helping to promote equality for women and girls across the globe and strengthen their position within societies.
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