Other Forms of Trafficking

Last updated July 2020

While sexual exploitation and forced labor are the most common forms of trafficking that women experience, there are several other forms of trafficking that violate women’s human rights. Women can experience other forms of trafficking such as forced marriages, organ trafficking, forced begging, illegal adoption, participation in armed conflict, and participation in crime.[1] Many victims of trafficking experience more than one form of trafficking. Geography, culture, and other factors play a role in the prevalence of certain types of trafficking, such as the trafficking of children as child soldiers in Africa or organ removal in North Africa, Central and South-Eastern Europe, and Eastern Europe.[2] The clandestine nature of human trafficking poses challenges for data collection, especially for less common types of trafficking.

Forced Marriage

An increasing number of women and girls have been trafficked under the guise of marriage. Women are sold by their family members and trafficked with false marriage documentation. In many instances these women are taken to different countries. Forced marriage trafficking allows the perpetrator to bypass certain cultural or societal laws with false marriage documents. Forced marriage can involve “threatening behaviour, abduction, imprisonment, physical violence, rape and, in some cases, murder.”[3]This practice is more commonly found in the Middle East, Asia and Africa,[4] though forced marriages may occur in the United States when a foreign national obtains a K-1 (fiancé) visa. Some have called this particular type of forced marriage a “commercial non-consenting marriage situation.”[5] Visit the forced marriage section of this website to learn more.

Organ Trafficking

Organ trafficking accounts for less than 1% of detected trafficking cases, yet it occurs over a significant geographic area. It is reported in areas of North Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central and South America.[6] Victims may have organs removed without their consent or treated for non-existing conditions and have organs removed without their consent for trading purposes.[7] Organ traffickers often operate across borders or collaborate with medical professionals. By involving medical professionals, traffickers might gain access to facilities to carry out organ removal or obtain false medical licenses.[8] Higher levels of organ trafficking have been reported in areas of conflict and refugee camps. For instance, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, reported several instances of organ trafficking in Jordan and Syria in 2016.[9]

Several international protocols are in place to address this issue, such as the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking of Persons and the World Health Organization’s Guiding Principles on Human Organ Transplant. For more information on this type of trafficking, see the Council of Europe’s Trafficking in Organs Report or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s report on Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Organ Removal.

[1] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2018 (New York: 2018). Available at https://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/2018/GLOTiP_2018_BOOK_web_small.pdf.

[2] Id., 11.

[3] United Nations General Assembly, In-depth study on all forms of violence against women: Report of the Secretary-General, A/61/122/Add.1, par.122, July 6, 2006.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Polaris Project, The Typology of Modern Slavery: Defining Sex and Labor Trafficking in the United States, (March 2017, 36. Available at https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Polaris-Typology-of-Modern-Slavery-1.pdf.

[6] Id., 11.

[7] U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, “Trafficking for Organ Trade,” http://www.ungift.org/knowledgehub/en/about/trafficking-for-organ-trade.html (accessed July 20, 2014).

[8] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2018 (New York: 2018), 31.

[9] Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Report of the special rapporteur, on her mission to Jordan, A/HRC/32/41/ Add.1, para 20.