New Report: Illegal Profits from Sex Trafficking Triple Previous Global Estimates
Friday, June 6, 2014 11:15 AM

Sexual exploitation of trafficked women and girls generates nearly $100 billion in illegal profits, two-thirds of the $150 billion generated globally by all forms of forced labour each year. These figures are more than three times previous International Labour Organization (“ILO”) estimates, according to ILO's new report, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour. Although women make up roughly half of all persons trafficked globally for forced labour, they represent most of the victims exploited for commercial sex work. ILO Director General Guy Ryder said the study demonstrates the need for governments to act decisively to end “this fundamentally evil, but hugely profitable practice.”

Notably, profits were significantly higher per trafficking victim in developed countries such as the United States and the EU, demonstrating the continued high demand for forced labour and sex work generated by rich countries. The report identifies poverty and “income shocks” as the single largest push factor contributing to human trafficking and identifies other factors that make victims more vulnerable to trafficking such as little or no education, gender discrimination, illiteracy, and harsh immigration policies that force migrants into irregular employment.

Aidan McQuade with Anti-Slavery International, called the study’s figures “staggering” and suggested governments “support a binding protocol on the ILO convention on forced labour to strengthen international standards against forced labour." The ILO recommended that governments take “concrete and immediate action” to strengthen laws and improve enforcement and implementation, as well as adopt measures that reduce the vulnerability of potential victims to trafficking.

Compiled from: Jones, Sam, Global Forced Labour Generated $150bn a Year in Illegal Profits, The Guardian (May 19, 2014); ILO Says Forced Labout Generates Annual Profits of US$ 150 Billion, International Labour Organization (May 20, 2014).