Trafficking in Women: Causes and Risk Factors
last updated September 1, 2005

The various factors that contribute to trafficking are sometimes categorized as "supply side" factors, such as the feminization of poverty, and "demand side" factors, such as weak border controls in destination countries.  Frequently, it is a combination of these factors that pushes women and girls into situations in which they are exploited and become victims of trafficking. Effective strategies to eliminate trafficking necessarily involve addressing multiple contributing factors.

While this analysis is useful in explaining the complex nature of trafficking, the factors that play a role in trafficking are actually interdependent and interconnected.  Some factors, such as military conflict, do not fit neatly into either the "demand" or "supply" side of trafficking, but nevertheless have contributed to this problem in some regions.  For example, internal conflicts force people to leave their home country, which may encourage trafficking across borders.  At the same time, an increase in military personnel in a specific region also increases the "demand" for women to be brought from outside to work in the commercial sex industry. 

Following are some of the most common causes and risk factors associated with trafficking in women. Click on a factor to learn more: