Who Is Being Trafficked?
last updated September 1, 2005

Women, children, and men are trafficked throughout the world for sexual exploitation or forced labor. Women are particularly vulnerable to trafficking because in many societies the lives of women and girls are valued less than those of men and boys. In addition, as the number of orphans increases (a result of civil war and HIV/AIDS), so does the number of child-headed households, which are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

Women are trafficked believing that they will be employed as shopkeepers, maids, seamstresses, nannies, or waitresses, but are then often forced into prostitution. They are usually unaware that their travel documents will be confiscated or that they will be subject to huge debts that they will be unable to repay. These women generally avoid going to the authorities for fear of being jailed or deported. In addition, because trafficking victims have been taken away from their homes, they lack a social support network and are often culturally and linguistically isolated.

Traffickers may recruit victims through advertisements, or use fraudulent travel, modeling, and matchmaking agencies to lure people into trafficking schemes. Because the trafficker may be someone well-known in the home community, he is often able to convince families that their children will be better off in a new place. Traffickers also kidnap and abduct some victims.

Adapted from U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, June 11, 2003.