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Findings of the 2010 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report[1]

  Tier 1 (Full compliance with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA))
  Tier 2 (Significant efforts to comply with TVPA)
  Tier 2 Watch List (Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards AND a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; or b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year)
  Tier 3 (No efforts to comply with TVPA)
  No data/Special

Human trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor: a modern-day form of slavery.

Adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol) is an international set of diplomatic guidelines established by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The Trafficking Protocol is one of three Protocols adopted to supplement the Convention.[2]

The Protocol is the first global legally binding instrument with an agreed definition on trafficking in persons. The intention behind this definition is to facilitate convergence in national cooperation in investigating and prosecuting trafficking in persons cases. An additional objective of the Protocol is to protect and assist the victims of trafficking in persons with full respect for their human rights. The Trafficking Protocol defines human trafficking as:

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth [above] shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth [above] have been used.[3]

The Trafficking Protocol entered into force on 25 December 2003. By June 2010, the Trafficking Protocol had been signed by 117 countries and 137 parties.[4]

Overview and differentiation

Trafficking is a lucrative industry. It is now the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.[5] Globally, it is tied with the illegal arms trade, as the second largest criminal activity, following the drug trade.[5] Human trafficking usually affects women and children[6]Template:Fv The total annual revenue for trafficking in persons is estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion.[7] The Council of Europe states, "People trafficking has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion."[8][9] The United Nations estimates nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked around the world.[10]

However, many of these statistics are grossly conflated to aid advocacy of anti-trafficking NGOs and the anti-trafficking policies of governments. Due to the definition of trafficking being a process (not a singly defined act) and the fact that it is a dynamic phenomenon with constantly shifting patterns relating to economic circumstances, much of the statistical evaluation is flawed.[11]

Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. In the latter, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to covertly transport them from one location to another. This generally involves transportation from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. There may be no deception involved in the (illegal) agreement. After entry into the country and arrival at their ultimate destination, the smuggled person is usually free to find their own way.

While smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Much of the confusion rests with the term itself. The word "trafficking" includes the word "traffic," which we often equate with transportation or travel. However, while the words look and sound alike, they do not hold the same meaning. Human trafficking does not require the physical movement of a person (but must entail the exploitation of the person for labor or commercial sex). Additionally, victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination. They are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work or services may include anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation.[12][13] The arrangement may be structured as a work contract, but with no or low payment or on terms which are highly exploitative. Sometimes the arrangement is structured as debt bondage, with the victim not being permitted or able to pay off the debt.

Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money "borrowed."[14]

Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates $31bn according to the International Labor Organization.[15] Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and begging.[14]

Sex trafficking victims are generally found in dire circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. Individuals, circumstances, and situations vulnerable to traffickers include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background.

Traffickers, also known as pimps or madams, exploit vulnerabilities and lack of opportunities, while offering promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry. Various work in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude.

While human trafficking does not require travel or transport from one location to another, one form of sex trafficking involves international agents and brokers who arrange travel and job placements for women from one country. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. However, once they reach their destination, the women discover that they have been deceived and learn the true nature of the work that they will be expected to do. Most have been told lies regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous.[16] According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 1,229 human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 percent were sex trafficking cases.[17]

Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the health and/or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children aged between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondage, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade and other illicit activities around the world.

Trafficking in children

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation.

Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution[18][19] or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for cults.[20]

Thailand and Brazil are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records.[21]

Trafficking in children often involves exploitation of the parents' extreme poverty. Parents may sell children to traffickers in order to pay off debts or gain income, or they may be deceived concerning the prospects of training and a better life for their children. They may sell their children for labor, sex trafficking, or illegal adoptions.

The adoption process, legal and illegal, when abused can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world.[22] In David M. Smolin’s papers on child trafficking and adoption scandals between India and the United States,[23][24] he presents the systemic vulnerabilities in the inter-country adoption system that makes adoption scandals predictable.

Thousands of children from Asia, Africa, and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families.[25] In the U.S. Department of Justice 07-08 study, more than 30 percent of the total number of trafficking cases for that year were children coerced into the sex industry.[17]

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation

There is no universally accepted definition of trafficking for sexual exploitation. The term encompasses the organized movement of people, usually women, between countries and within countries for sex work with the use of physical coercion, deception and bondage through forced debt. However, the issue becomes contentious when the element of coercion is removed from the definition to incorporate facilitating the willing involvement in prostitution. For example, in the United Kingdom, The Sexual Offenses Act, 2003 incorporated trafficking for sexual exploitation but did not require those committing the offence to use coercion, deception or force, so that it also includes any person who enters the UK to carry out sex work with consent as having been trafficked.[26] In addition, any minor involved in a commercial sex act in the United States while under the age of 18 qualifies as a trafficking victim, even if no movement is involved, under the definition of Severe Forms of Trafficking in Persons, in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.[27]

Save the Children stated: "The issue gets mired in controversy and confusion when prostitution itself is considered as a violation of the basic human rights of both adult women and minors, and equal to sexual exploitation per se..... trafficking and prostitution become conflated with each other.... On account of the historical conflation of trafficking and prostitution both legally and in popular understanding, an overwhelming degree of effort and interventions of anti-trafficking groups are concentrated on trafficking into prostitution".[28] The line between forced and voluntary prostitution is very thin, and prostitution in and on itself is seen by many as an abusive practice and a form of violence against women. In Sweden, Norway and Iceland it is illegal to pay for sex (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute), as these countries consider all forms of prostitution to be exploitative or de facto slavery.

Sexual trafficking includes coercing a migrant into a sexual act as a condition of allowing or arranging the migration. Sexual trafficking uses physical coercion, deception and bondage incurred through forced debt. Trafficked women and children, for instance, are often promised work in the domestic or service industry, but instead are usually taken to brothels where their passports and other identification papers are confiscated. They may be beaten or locked up and promised their freedom only after earning – through prostitution – their purchase price, as well as their travel and visa costs.[29][30]

The main motive of a woman (in some cases an underage girl) to accept an offer from a trafficker is better financial opportunities for herself or her family. In many cases traffickers initially offer ‘legitimate’ work or the promise of an opportunity to study. The main types of work offered are in the catering and hotel industry, in bars and clubs, modeling contracts, or au pair work. Traffickers sometimes use offers of marriage, threats, intimidation and kidnapping as means of obtaining victims. In the majority of cases, the women end up in prostitution. Also some (migrating) prostitutes become victims of human trafficking. Some women know they will be working as prostitutes, but they have an inaccurate view of the circumstances and the conditions of the work in their country of destination.[31][32]

Trafficking victims are also exposed to different psychological problems. They suffer social alienation in the host and home countries. Stigmatization, social exclusion and intolerance make reintegration into local communities difficult. The governments offer little assistance and social services to trafficked victims upon their return. As the victims are also pushed into drug trafficking, many of them face criminal sanctions.

Global extent, awareness and response

Due to the illegal nature of trafficking and differences in methodology, the exact extent and growth of the industry is unknown. According to United States State Department data, an "estimated 600,000 to 820,000 men, women, and children [are] trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80% are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors. The data also illustrates that the majority of transnational victims are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation."[33] However, they go on to say that "the alarming enslavement of people for purposes of labor exploitation, often in their own countries, is a form of human trafficking that can be hard to track from afar."

Of the 45,000 to 50,000 that are brought to the U.S., 30,000 come from Asia, 10,000 from Latin America and 5,000 from other regions e.g., the former Soviet Union. The primary Asian source countries to the U.S. are China, Thailand and Vietnam. Although trafficking into the U.S. and Europe has gained a lot of attention in recent years, anti-trafficking advocates in Asia have been addressing these issues on the continent for decades.[34]

Reporters have witnessed a rapid increase in prostitution in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Kosovo after UN and, in the case of the latter two, NATO peacekeeping forces moved in. Peacekeeping forces have been linked to trafficking and forced prostitution. Proponents of peacekeeping argue that the actions of a few should not incriminate the many participants in the mission, yet NATO and the UN have come under criticism for not taking the issue of forced prostitution linked to peacekeeping missions seriously enough.[35][36][37][38]

Human trafficking across international borders requires cooperation and collaboration between states if it is to be tackled effectively. The OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), an ad hoc intergovernmental organization under the United Nations Charter, is one of the leading agencies fighting the problem of human trafficking, with an area of operation that includes North America, Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was signed by 41 Council of Europe member states and ratified by 26.

A common misconception is that trafficking only occurs in poor countries. But every country in the world is involved in the underground, lucrative system. A “source country” is a country from which people are trafficked. Usually, these countries are destitute and may have been further weakened by war, corruption, natural disasters or climate. Some source countries are Nepal, Guatemala, the former Soviet territories, and Nigeria, but there are many more. A “transit country”, like Mexico or Israel, is a temporary stop on trafficked victims’ journey to the country where they will be enslaved. A “destination country” is where trafficked persons end up. These countries are generally affluent, since they must have citizens with enough disposable income to "buy" the traffickers' "products". Japan, India, much of Western Europe, and the United States are all destination countries.[39]

The most common destinations for victims of human trafficking are Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the US, according to a report by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).[40]

The major sources of trafficked persons include Thailand, China, Nigeria, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine.[40]

In some areas, like Russia,[41] Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, and Colombia, trafficking is controlled by large criminal organizations.[42] However, the majority of trafficking is done by networks of smaller groups that each specialize in a certain area, like recruitment, transportation, advertising, or retail. This is very profitable because little start-up capital is needed, and prosecution is relatively rare.

In a 2006 report the Future Group, a Canadian humanitarian organization dedicated to combating human trafficking and the child sex trade, ranked eight industrialized nations. In the report, titled "Falling Short of the Mark: An International Study on the Treatment of Human Trafficking Victims", Canada received an F rating, the United Kingdom received a D, while the United States received a B+ and Australia, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Italy all received grades of B or B-.[43]

Almost every human trafficking prevention organization works to spread public awareness of trafficking. Several methods have been used to achieve public awareness, and while some produce little results, others have succeeded in persuading governments to pass laws and regulations on human trafficking. By pushing the issue of human trafficking into the public eye through the media, organizations work to educate the general public about the dangers of being trafficked and practices of preventing individuals from being trafficked. Television, magazines, newspapers, and radio are all used to warn and educate the public by providing statistics, scenarios, and general information on the subject.

It should be noted that there is widespread disagreement about the term trafficking, with social researchers, academics, activists and journalists critiquing its overuse. The problem is that campaigners against trafficking often include all undocumented migrants, or all female migrants who work as prostitutes. They point out that statistics on numbers of victims of trafficking cannot be known since they are by definition not registered as legal migrants or workers in legal industries. The conflation between prostitution and trafficking is discussed in the work of Laura María Agustín.


In parts of Ghana, a family may be punished for an offense by having to turn over a virgin female to serve as a sex slave within the offended family.[44] [needs academic reference] In this instance, the woman does not gain the title of "wife." In parts of Ghana, Togo, and Benin, shrine slavery persists, despite being illegal in Ghana since 1998. In this system of slavery of ritual servitude, sometimes called trokosi (in Ghana) or voodoosi[45] in Togo and Benin, young virgin girls are given as slaves in traditional shrines and are used sexually by the priests in addition to providing free labor for the shrine.[46]

In West Africa, trafficked children have often lost one or both parents to the African AIDS crisis.[47] Thousands of male (and sometimes female) children have been forced to be child soldiers..

North America


In 2004, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimated that 600-800 persons are trafficked into Canada annually and that additional 1,500-2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada into the United States.[48] In Canada, foreign trafficking for prostitution is estimated to be worth $400 million annually.[49]


In the impoverished southern state of Chiapas, children are sold for as little as 100 to 200 dollars, according to human rights groups. That area is considered one of the worst places in the world in terms of child prostitution.[50]

Young female migrants recounted being robbed, beaten, and raped by members of criminal gangs and then forced to work in table dance bars or as prostitutes under threat of further harm to them or their families.[51]

United States

A 2004 report from the Human Rights Center in Berkeley, California estimated that there were then about 10,000 forced laborers in the U.S., around one-third of whom are domestic servants and some portion of whom are children.[52] The Associated Press reported on interviews conducted in California and Egypt that trafficking of children for domestic labor in the U.S. is an extension of an illegal but common practice in Africa.

The United States of America is principally a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually.[53] Laws against trafficking in the United States exist at the federal and state levels. Over half of the states now criminalize human trafficking, though the penalties are not as tough as the federal laws. Related federal and state efforts focus on regulating the tourism industry to prevent the facilitation of sex tourism and regulating international marriage brokers to ensure criminal background checks and information on how to get help are given to the potential bride. In 2001, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was established as part of the U.S. State Department. The director (currently Luis CdeBaca) leads the fight against trafficking within the U.S. as well as coordinating with leaders in anti-trafficking movements around the world.

The United States outlawed slavery with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. Section 1 of the amendment says that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

As enforcement of these laws has been problematic, shelters have been established to help the people who have been affected by human trafficking directly and indirectly. There are many websites that give insight into where these places are and how to get help when one is stuck in a trafficking situation.[54]

Within the U.S., Atlanta, Georgia has been identified as currently having the highest rate of child sex trafficking, with 200-300 exploited for the commercial sex industry every month. In response, One Voice: Atlanta, an anti-trafficking organization based at the Georgia Institute of Technology, produced a video promo for their “No Traffic is Good Traffic” benefit gala which was held on October 17, 2010.[55]

Many organizations also provide free telephone hot lines open for the public to call for help if they find themselves in trafficking situations. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an American foundation committed to provide aid for victims of domestic violence (a category in which many trafficking victims fall into), set up the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force, a hot line that provides interpreters in various languages and the ability to talk to any individuals in need, regardless of one’s status as a citizen in the United States.[56]

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act

The United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act(TVPA) of 2000 defines "severe forms of trafficking in persons" as:

  1. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age, OR
  2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.[57]

The TVPA enhances pre-existing criminal penalties, affords new protections to trafficking victims and offers certain benefits and services to victims of severe forms of trafficking. It also establishes a Cabinet-level federal interagency task force and establishes a federal program to provide services to trafficking victims.

The TVPA has three main measures to prevent the act of human trafficking. These methods include: public awareness, consultation, and economic alternatives. Public awareness is one step in preventative measures of human trafficking. If more people gain information on human trafficking, there will be less people that are blind to the situation. By publicly announcing the acts and ideas of human trafficking, people will become more aware of what is going on behind closed doors. Public media is a way that the information on human trafficking can be spread world wide. Stated in a section analysis of the TVPA is the declaration that the President will create programs in order to increase public awareness of the dangers of human trafficking. Non-governmental organizations will be consulted as a way to initiate action towards public awareness. As more consultations are made, higher authorities will become aware of human trafficking and its dangerous risks and outcomes. The third option to prevent human trafficking is the President’s initiative of administering economic alternatives. The TVPA states that economic deprivation is the primary reason for human trafficking. By changing the poverty issues, the amount of human trafficking victims could decrease, resulting in the abolition of traffickers.[58]

According to the TVPA, there are five possible initiatives that will help decrease human trafficking by giving economic alternatives. The first is training the less fortunate for job skills and counseling. By giving the option of job training, the underprivileged people who have no job experience can look for jobs that do not include human trafficking or any form of it. The second alternative is providing programs that promote the possibility of women’s input on economic decision making. The third option is the ability to provide programs in order to keep children, especially young girls, in primary and secondary schools. With the children staying in school, there’s less of a chance that they will be abducted and sold into the human trafficking industry. Also, it allows for a better education, which in turn helps citizens obtain better jobs in the future. With the better education and jobs, poverty may not be an issue therefore keeping citizens away from human trafficking as an answer for a source of survival. The fourth and very important initiative is the development of a curriculum that will warn outsiders the risks and dangers contributing to human trafficking. People may know about the act of human trafficking, however, they may see no huge issue within the industry. By making the risks and dangers known to individuals, they will realize that there is harm done to others within trafficking and support the belief that something should be done to eradicate it. The last way the TVPA aimed to help prevent trafficking has already been mentioned above, and that is the creation of non-governmental organizations in order to make people aware of human trafficking. Grants will be given to these organizations to follow out the act as well.[58]

Although the TVPA is a step toward the minimization of human trafficking, there are a few concerns. The first issue is human rights. Humans have the right to be free from punishment, mistreatment, cruel and inhuman treatment, and torture. However, the TVPA has ignored this. In order to go forth with their protection and prevention act, human rights could be acknowledged and promoted to those who do not understand. The TVPA also does not address economic and gender inequalities. Since the majority of human trafficking is result of poor economic systems, there is an obvious inequality of the economics. Many do not have the option to do anything else but use human trafficking as a source of money. They ignore this aspect when coming to terms with preventing trafficking in general. As for gender inequalities, it is no debate that men have a higher status in the community as opposed to females. This makes it simpler for women to be abducted by traffickers because of their sexuality. “Once gender discrimination and inequality have become so ingrained, in a society's customs and traditions, implementing programs to improve educational and economic opportunities is comparable to putting the cart before the horse.” These issues could be addressed within the anti-trafficking laws in order to give women the opportunity to have a say in the acts of the trafficking industry. The third issue that is ignored by the TVPA is “Sensationalism of the Sex Industry.” The industry of sex has been idealized by the media and the participants themselves. The magazine Cosmopolitan promotes sex and states that it is not only fun, but it represents independence and success. The way that sex is commercialized, it makes it seem as if the industry may be admirable to many other people who do not see the dangers of it on top of the sensationalism issues that the media has produced.[58]

In 2003, the TVPA was reauthorized as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This reauthorization added border interdiction laws in order to enforce the protection of victims of transnational trafficking and prevention of future smugglers. It provides shelters at certain borders for the housing of these victims, as well as gives training for border guards. The training specifically covers how to spot traffickers and their victims along with the ability to handle these people properly. The TVPRA also introduced the use of international media to educate and alert potential victims in addition to the general public and in source countries of human trafficking.[58]

A few other laws have been established since this one. They all have the same basic ideas, but a little more added on every time. The next big law that was passed was the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (2005 Act). After passing this law, not much had changed with the trafficking problem. So as a result, they created the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2007. This is the most recent attempt to put a stop to human trafficking. This law is long and very detailed on what to do with a trafficking situation. It talks about what to do with the victims, and even how to handle with trying to get them out of that horrible situation.

South America

Poor economic conditions and social problems create a climate which is favorable to human trafficking.


In Brazil, the National Research on Trafficking in Women, Children, and Adolescents for Sexual Exploitation Purposes identified 241 international and national trafficking routes.[59]


Interpol estimates that 35,000 women are trafficked out of Colombia every year, with estimated profits of $500 million, making it second only to the Dominican Republic in the West.[60] In Colombia, the IOM and domestic NGOs estimate that international organized crime networks are responsible for most transnational trafficking. Domestically, organized crime networks, some related to illegal armed groups, are also responsible for trafficking for sexual exploitation or organized begging, and the armed conflict has made a large number of internal trafficking victims vulnerable.

Eastern Asia

It has been estimated that at least 200,000 to 225,000 women and children are trafficked from Southeast Asia annually. Most of the trafficking destinations are within the region (60 percent are major cities of the region; 40 percent are outside the region).[61]

Bernard Dickens, professor emeritus of health law and policy at the University of Toronto Law School, has explained: "Hindu girls are being smuggled and purchased from poor countries like Nepal and Bhutan to be brides for Indian men".[62]


In Asia, Japan is the major destination country for trafficked women, especially from the Philippines and Thailand. In Japan the prosperous entertainment market has created a huge demand for commercial sexual workers, and such demand is being met by trafficking women and their children from the Philippines, Colombia and Thailand. Women are forced into street prostitution, stripping and live sex acts.[63] The US State Department has rated Japan as either a ‘Tier 2’ or a ‘Tier 2 Watchlist’ country every year since 2001 in its annual Trafficking in Persons reports. Both these ratings implied that Japan was (to a greater or lesser extent) not fully compliant with minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking trade.

Southeast Asia


As many as 200,000 Nepali girls, many under 14, have been sold into sexual slavery in India. Nepalese women and girls, especially virgins, are favored in India because of their light skin.[64][65][66]


Within Thailand, women are trafficked from the impoverished Northeast and the North to Bangkok for sexual exploitation.[67] It is common that Thai women are lured to Japan and sold to Yakuza-controlled brothels where they are forced to work off their price.[68][69] Thailand is a major destination for child sex tourism;[70] children are exploited in sex establishments and are also approached directly in the street by tourists seeking sexual contact.[71]


Quoting the subhead blurb of a December 2009 online article on a German media site, the Havocscope website, which bills itself as "An online database of black market activities", estimated that there are about 800,000 women working as prostitutes in the Philippines, with up to half of them believed to be underage.[72] A major obstacle which prevents effective anti-trafficking enforcement is the fact that government officials and the police are often involved in trafficking operations within the country, protect such activities, and demand bribes from traffickers and pimps.[73][74][75][76]Template:Fv[77][78][79] In the late 1990s, UNICEF estimated that many of the 200 brothels in Angeles City offered children for sex, describing the brothels as "notorious".[80][dated info]

In a country where trafficking is commonplace (especially in airports), organizations such as the Asia Foundation are calling attention to human trafficking in several different ways. In August 2007, the Philippine Star ran a front page article titled “Internet Pornography: The Untouchable Crime” which called attention to the dangerous nature of human trafficking. In addition, infomercials that depict possible trafficking scenarios are being produced and aired on television to provide viewers with potential situations they should be wary of. The Asia Foundation has also been successful in setting up halfway houses and help desks in international airports dedicated to providing information to individuals to prevent them from being trafficked, and support and consolation for those who have been victims of trafficking.[81]

Western Asia


Many of the Iraqi women fleeing the Iraq War are turning to prostitution, while others are trafficked abroad, to countries like Syria, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey[citation needed]. Prostitution in Syria alone accounts for an estimated 50,000 Iraqi refugee girls and women, many of them widows.[82] Cheap Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists. The clients come from wealthier countries in the Middle East.[83] High prices are offered for virgins.[84]

Central Europe

Eastern Europe

According to a new United Nations estimate, there may be as many as 270,000 victims of human trafficking in the European Union.[85] Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, former Eastern bloc countries such as Albania, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine have become the major source countries for trafficking of women and children.[86][87] Young women and girls are often lured to wealthier countries by promises of money and work and then compelled to work in prostitution.[88]

It is estimated that 2/3 of women trafficked for prostitution worldwide annually come from Eastern Europe, three-quarters having never worked as prostitutes before.[89][90] The major destinations are Western Europe (most common European destinations are Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy, according to UNODC[40]), the Middle East (Turkey, Israel, the United Arab Emirates), Asia, and Russia.[91] An estimated 500,000 women from Central and Eastern Europe are working in prostitution in the EU alone,[92] not all of them being victims of trafficking.


Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for various forms of exploitation.[93] Many women have been trafficked overseas for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Annually, thousands of trafficked Russian women end up as prostitutes in Western Europe, United States, Canada, Israel and Asian countries.[94][95] The ILO estimates that there may be up to one million illegal immigrants in Russia who are victims of forced labor, which is a form of trafficking. There have also been reports of child sex tourism in Russia; however, law enforcement authorities report a decrease in the number of cases of child sex tourism and attribute this to aggressive police investigations and Russian cooperation with foreign law enforcement.[93]


In Ukraine, a survey conducted by the NGO La Strada Ukraine in 2001–2003, based on a sample of 106 women being trafficked out of Ukraine found that 3% were under 18, and the U.S. State Department reported in 2004 that incidents of minors being trafficked was increasing. It is estimated that half a million Ukrainian women were trafficked abroad since 1991 (80% of all unemployed in Ukraine are women).[96][97]


In poverty-stricken Moldova, where the unemployment rate for women ranges as high as 68% and one-third of the workforce live and work abroad, experts estimate that since the collapse of the Soviet Union between 200,000 and 400,000 women have been sold into prostitution abroad—perhaps up to 10% of the female population.[98][99]


The problem of trafficking in human beings emerged in Belarus in the 1990s, with the development of negative socio-economic trends caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Economic decline, unemployment and dramatically deteriorating living standards provoked people going abroad in search of a better life and work. 3989 victims of human trafficking were identified in 2002-2009.[100]

Western Europe


In Austria, Vienna has the largest number of trafficking cases, although trafficking is also a problem in urban centers such as Graz, Linz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. The NGO Lateinamerikanische Frauen in Oesterreich–Interventionsstelle fuer Betroffene des Frauenhandels (LEFOE-IBF) reported assisting 108 trafficking victims in 2006, down from 151 in 2005.[101]


In Belgium, in 2007, prosecutors handled 418 trafficking cases, including 219 economic exploitation and 168 sexual exploitation cases. The federal judicial police handled 196 trafficking files, compared with 184 in 2006. In 2007 the police arrested 342 persons for smuggling and trafficking-related crimes.[102] A recent report by RiskMonitor foundation found that 70% of the prostitutes who work in Belgium are from Bulgaria.[103]


In Greece, according to NGO estimates, there are 13,000-14,000 trafficking victims in the country at any given time. Major countries of origin for trafficking victims include Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Albania, Moldova, Romania, and Belarus.[104]


In Germany, the trafficking of women from Eastern Europe is often organized by people from that same region. Authorities identified 676 sex-trafficking victims in 2008, compared with 689 in 2007, and 96 victims of forced labor in 2008, a decrease from 101 in 2007.[105] The German Federal Police Office BKA reported in 2006 a total of 357 completed investigations of human trafficking, with 775 victims. Thirty-five percent of the suspects were Germans born in Germany and 8% were German citizens born outside of Germany.[106]


In Netherlands, it is estimated that there are from 1,000 to 7,000 trafficking victims a year. Most police investigations relate to legal sex businesses, with all sectors of prostitution being well represented, but with window brothels being particularly overrepresented.[107][108][109] In 2008, there were 809 registered trafficking victims, 763 were women and at least 60 percent of them were forced to work in the sex industry. All victims from Hungary were female and were forced into prostitution.[110][111] Out of all Amsterdam's 8,000 to 11,000 prostitutes, more than 75% are from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, according to a former prostitute who produced a report about the sex trade in Amsterdam, in 2008.[112] An article in Le Monde in 1997 found that 80% of prostitutes in the Netherlands were foreigners and 70% had no immigration papers.[113][114]


In Spain, in 2007, officials identified 1,035 sex trafficking victims and 445 labor trafficking victims.[115]


In Switzerland, the police estimates that there may be between 1,500 and 3,000 victims of human trafficking. The organisers and their victims generally come from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Thailand and Cambodia, and, to a lesser extent, Africa.[116]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the Home Office has stated that 71 women were trafficked into prostitution in 1998. They also suggest that the actual figure could be up to 1,420 women trafficked into the UK during the same period.[117] However, the figures are problematic as the definition used in the UK to identify cases of sex trafficking — derived from the Sexual Offences Act 2003 - does not require that victims have been coerced or misled. Thus, any individual who moves to the UK for the purposes of sex work can be regarded as having been trafficked — even if they did so with their knowledge and consent. The Home Office do not appear to be keeping records of the number of people trafficked into the UK for purposes other than sexual exploitation.

In the United Kingdom, after intense pressure from Human Rights organisations, trafficking for labour exploitation was made illegal in 2004 (trafficking for sexual exploitation being criminalised many years previously). However, the 2004 law has been used very rarely, therefore by mid-2007 there had not been a single conviction under these provisions.[26]



It has been estimated that the number of victims of human trafficking in Australia ranges between 300 and 1000 a year.[118] In Australia, a study in 2004 documented 300 cases of trafficking over a six-week period. All but 25 of these victims were women forced into prostitution.[119] The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) lists Australia as one of 21 trafficking destination countries in the high destination category.[120]

Intergovernmental organizations

United Nations

In 2000 the United Nations adopted the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, also called the Palermo Convention, and two Palermo protocols there to:

All of these instruments contain elements of the current international law on trafficking in humans.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has assisted many non-governmental organizations in their fight against human trafficking. The 2006 armed conflict in Lebanon, which saw 300,000 domestic workers from Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and the Philippines jobless and targets of traffickers, led to an emergency information campaign with NGO Caritas Migrant to raise human-trafficking awareness. Additionally, an April 2006 report, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, helped to identify 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries and 137 destination countries for human trafficking. To date, it is the second most frequently downloaded UNODC report. Continuing into 2007, UNODC supported initiatives like the Community Vigilance project along the border between India and Nepal, as well as provided subsidy for NGO trafficking prevention campaigns in Bosnia, Croatia, and Herzegovina.[121] Public service announcements have also proved useful for organizations combating human trafficking. In addition to many other endeavors, UNODC works to broadcast these announcements on local television and radio stations across the world. By providing regular access to information regarding human-trafficking, individuals are educated how to protect themselves and their families from being exploited.

The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) was conceived to promote the global fight on human trafficking, on the basis of international agreements reached at the UN. UN.GIFT was launched in March 2007 by UNODC with a grant made on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. It is managed in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF); the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Within UN.GIFT, UNODC launched a research exercise to gather primary data on national responses to trafficking in persons worldwide. This exercise resulted in the publication of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in February 2009. The report gathers official information for 155 countries and territories in the areas of legal and institutional framework, criminal justice response and victim assistance services.[121] UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders — governments, business, academia, civil society and the media — to support each other's work, create new partnerships and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.

The Global Initiative is based on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with successfully by any government alone. This global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world.

To pave the way for this strategy, stakeholders must coordinate efforts already underway, increase knowledge and awareness, provide technical assistance; promote effective rights-based responses; build capacity of state and non-state stakeholders; foster partnerships for joint action; and above all, ensure that everybody takes responsibility for this fight.

By encouraging and facilitating cooperation and coordination, UN.GIFT aims to create synergies among the anti-trafficking activities of UN agencies, international organizations and other stakeholders to develop the most efficient and cost-effective tools and good practices.

UN.GIFT aims to mobilize state and non-state actors to eradicate human trafficking by reducing both the vulnerability of potential victims and the demand for exploitation in all its forms; ensuring adequate protection and support to those who fall victim; and supporting the efficient prosecution of the criminals involved, while respecting the fundamental human rights of all persons.

In carrying out its mission, UN.GIFT will increase the knowledge and awareness on human trafficking; promote effective rights-based responses; build capacity of state and non-state actors; and foster partnerships for joint action against human trafficking.

For more information view the UN.GIFT Progress Report 2009.[122][123]

Further UNODC efforts to motivate action launched the Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking on March 6, 2009,[124] which Mexico launched its own national version of in April 2010.[125][126] The campaign encourages people to show solidarity with human trafficking victims by wearing the blue heart, similar to how wearing the red ribbon promotes transnational HIV/AIDS awareness.[127] On November 4, 2010, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons to provide humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of human trafficking with the aim of increasing the number of those rescued and supported, and broadening the extent of assistance they receive.[128]

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

In 2003 the OSCE established an anti-trafficking mechanism aimed at raising public awareness of the problem and building the political will within participating States to tackle it effectively.

The OSCE actions against human trafficking are coordinated by the Office of the Special Representative for Combating the Traffic of Human Beings. Since 2006 this office has been headed by Eva Biaudet, a former Member of Parliament and Minister of Health and Social Services in her native Finland.

The activities of the Office of the Special Representative range from training law enforcement agencies to tackle human trafficking to promoting policies aimed at rooting out corruption and organised crime. The Special Representative also visits countries and can, on their request, support the formation and implementation of their anti-trafficking policies. In other cases the Special Representative provides advice regarding implementation of the decisions on human trafficking, and assists governments, ministers and officials to achieve their stated goals of tackling human trafficking.

Government actions

Actions taken to combat human trafficking vary from government to government. Some have introduced legislation specifically aimed at making human trafficking illegal. Governments can also develop systems of co-operation between different nations' law enforcement agencies and with non-government organizations (NGOs). Many countries have come under criticism for inaction, or ineffective action. Criticisms include failure of governments in not properly identifying and protecting trafficking victims, immigration policies which potentially re-victimize trafficking victims, or insufficient action in helping prevent vulnerable people from becoming trafficking victims.

A particular criticism has been the reluctance of some countries to tackle trafficking for purposes other than sex.

Another action governments can take is raising awareness of this issue. This can take three forms. Firstly, in raising awareness amongst potential victims, particularly in countries where human traffickers are active. Secondly, raising awareness amongst police, social welfare workers and immigration officers to equip them to deal appropriately with the problem. And finally, in countries where prostitution is legal or semi-legal, raising awareness amongst the clients of prostitution to watch for signs of human trafficking victims.

Raising awareness can take on different forms. One method is through the use of awareness films[129] or through posters.[130]

During the time racism was a major issue in the U.S., Congress feared White slavery. The result of this fear was the White Slave Traffic Act of 1910, which criminalized interracial marriage and banned single women from crossing state borders for morally wrong acts. In 1914, of the women arrested for crossing state borders under this act, 70% were charged with voluntary prostitution. Once the idea of a sex slave shifted from a White woman to an enslaved woman from countries in poverty, the U.S. began passing immigration acts to curtail aliens from entering the country among other reasons. Several acts such as the Temporary Quota Act of 1921 and Immigration Act of 1924 were passed to prevent emigrants from Europe and Asia from entering the U.S. Following the banning of immigrants during the 1920s, human trafficking was not seen as a major issue until the 1990s. However, during 1949, the first international statute that dealt with sex slavery was the 1949 UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and Exploitation of Prostitution of Others. This convention followed the abolitionist idea of sex trafficking as incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person. Serving as a model for future legislation, the 1949 UN Convention was not ratified by every country.

Before America’s recent efforts to take on a major role in the anti-trafficking movement, the U.N. was the main regulator in solving the global issue of human trafficking. Under the Bush Administration, fighting sex slavery worldwide and domestically became a priority with an average of $100 million spent per year, which substantially outnumbers the amount spent by other countries. Before President Bush took office, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). The TVPA strengthened services to victims of violence, law enforcements ability to reduce violence against women and children, and education against human trafficking. Also specified in the TVPA was a mandate to collect funds for the treatment of sex trafficking victims that provided shelter, food, education, and financial grants. Internationally, the TVPA set standards that the government of other countries must follow in order to receive aid from the U.S. to fight human trafficking. Once George W. Bush took office in 2000, restricting sex trafficking became one of his primary humanitarian efforts. Attorney General under President Bush, John Ashcroft, heavily enforced the TVPA. Today the State Department publishes the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which examines the progress that the U.S. and other countries have made in destroying human trafficking businesses, arresting the kingpins, and rescuing the victims.

The PROTECT Act of 2003, passed in April 2003, was a part of the government effort to further increase the punishment of child exploitation. The 18 U.S.C. § 1591, or the "Commercial Sex Act" makes it illegal to recruit, entice, obtain, provide, move or harbor a person or to benefit from such activities knowing that the person will be caused to engage in commercial sex acts where the person is under 18 or where force, fraud or coercion exists.[131][132]

Council of Europe

The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings[133] was adopted by the Council of Europe on 16 May 2005. The aim of the Convention is to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, and ensure protection of victims. The Convention entered into force on 1 February 2008. Of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, so far 27 have ratified it and 16 others have signed the Convention.[134] The Directorate of Communication of the Council of Europe has spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness of trafficking across its 47 member States.

In popular culture

Template:Split section Template:In popular culture

  • RCN Televisión in a partnership with UNODC Colombia produced a prime-time soap opera, "Everyone wants to be with Marilyn", informing millions of viewers about human-trafficking within the context of sexual exploitation. The final part of the show follows the story of a young woman who travels abroad thinking she will become a model, only to end up working against her will as a prostitute. Marilyn, in the meantime, sets up an NGO that assists victims of trafficking and offers support to women wishing to abandon the world of prostitution. The soap opera’s main male character plays a UNODC staff member who is working on a national campaign that is part of its Anti-Human Trafficking Project.[135]
  • Lilya 4-ever, a film based loosely on the real life of Dangoule Rasalaite, portrays a young woman from the former Soviet Union who is deceived into being trafficked for exploitation in Sweden.
  • Human trafficking has also been portrayed in the Canadian/UK TV drama Sex Traffic.
  • Based on true events, Svetlana's Journey by Michael Cory Davis depicts the trials of a 13-year-old who loses her family and is sold to human traffickers by her adoptive family. Drugged, raped, and forced to endure continuous abuse by her 'clients' and traffickers, she attempts to commit suicide, but survives.
  • River of Innocents follows the 17-year-old Majlinda into the world of modern-day slavery, where she struggles to hold on to her humanity and to help the stolen children around her survive.[136]
  • Dimanasus Prophecy, a movie by Dzmitry Vasilyeu about human trafficking in Eastern Europe.
  • David Mamet's 2004 film Spartan centres on the hunt for the daughter of a high ranking US official who has been kidnapped by an international sex slavery ring.
  • Human Trafficking (2005) (TV) by Christian Duguay stars Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland, and Robert Carlyle. A sixteen-year-old girl from Ukraine, a single mother from Russia, an orphaned seventeen-year-old girl from Romania, and a twelve-year-old American tourist become the victims of international sex slave traffickers. Sorvino and Sutherland are the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who struggle to save them.
  • La Sconosciuta, an Italian movie by Giuseppe Tornatore is centered around the story of a Ukrainian woman caught in the human trafficking and sex trade.
  • Ghosts, a documentary by independent film maker Nick Broomfield, follows the story of the victims of the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster, in which smuggled immigrants are forced in to hard labour.
  • Holly (2006) is a movie about a little girl, sold by her poor family and smuggled across the border to Cambodia to work as a prostitute in a red light village. The Virgin Harvest is a feature length documentary that was filmed at the same time.[137]
  • The 2007 film Trade deals with human trafficking out of Mexico and a brother's attempt to rescue his kidnapped and trafficked young sister. It is based on Peter Landesman's article about sex slaves, which was featured as the cover story in the January 24, 2004 issue of New York Times Magazine.
  • The Jammed, an Australian film about human trafficking in Australia.[138]
  • The 2007 film The Sugar Babies by Amy Serrano is a documentary that highlights the plight of Haitian victims of human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. It was produced by Thor Halvorssen Mendoza and funded by the Human Rights Foundation.
  • The European series Matroesjka's deals with girls from ex-Soviet countries, who have been deceived into sex slavery in Belgium.
  • The 2007 film Eastern Promises by David Cronenberg deals with a British midwife who unravels a gang of Russian slavers when she seeks relatives to a baby of a sex slave named Tatiana.
  • The 2008 film Taken by Pierre Morel, starring Liam Neeson, in which the main character's daughter and her friend are taken by traffickers in Paris. In his quest to find his daughter, the movie depicts foreign girls in Paris who are "trafficked" with the purpose of forcing them to prostitution.[139]
  • The 2008 documentary and concert film Call + Response combines contemporary musician performances with an investigative report on worldwide human trafficking including hidden camera footage from Thailand brothels.
  • A 2006 Punisher story arc called "The Slavers", written by Garth Ennis, dealt with the horrors of human trafficking and sex slavery.
  • In the CSI: NY episode, "She's Not There", the episode showcases the horrors of human trafficking when a Russian tourist is murdered and a girl that went missing.
  • The 2009 novel, A False Dawn, by Tom Lowe (St. Martins Press, ISBN 0-312-37917-X) depicts the horrors of human trafficking in the U.S.
  • The 2009 film Happy Endings?, filmed in Rhode Island, chronicles the lives of the women in massage parlors in Rhode Island during a battle in the state legislature to make prostitution illegal, focusing on issues of human trafficking.
  • In the hentai OVA "Cool Devices", human trafficking is part of several episodes.
  • Grammy-winning pop star, Lady Gaga, portrayed human trafficking in the music video for her multi-platinum selling single Bad Romance.The video takes place in a white bathhouse where Gaga is kidnapped by a group of supermodels who drug her, put her on display, and then sell her off to the Russian Mafia for sexual slavery
  • The 2009 novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  • The DNA Foundation was created by celebrity humanitarians Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher in their efforts to fight human trafficking (specifically focusing on sex trafficking of children) in the U.S. In September 2010, the pair announced the launch of their “Real Men Don't Buy Girls” campaign to combat child sex trafficking alongside other Hollywood stars and technology companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook. "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" is based on the idea that high-profile men speaking out against child sex trafficking can help reduce the demand for young girls in the commercial sex trade. A press conference was held on September 23 at the Clinton Global Initiative.[140]

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  • Flores, T. (2007), The sacred bath: An American teen's story of modern day slavery. New York: iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 13:978-0595437184

External links

ar:الاتجار بالبشر az:Traffikinq ca:Tràfic de persones da:Menneskehandel de:Menschenhandel et:Inimkaubandus es:Trata de personas fa:قاچاق انسان fr:Trafic d'êtres humains ko:인신매매 hr:Trgovanje ljudima id:Perdagangan manusia is:Mansal it:Traffico di esseri umani he:סחר בבני אדם ka:ტრეფიკინგი lt:Prekyba žmonėmis hu:Emberkereskedelem mk:Трговија со луѓе ms:Pemerdagangan manusia my:လူကုန်ကူးခြင်း nl:Mensenhandel ja:人身売買 no:Menneskehandel nn:Menneskehandel pl:Handel ludźmi pt:Tráfico de pessoas ro:Trafic de persoane ru:Торговля людьми simple:Human trafficking sk:Obchodovanie s ľuďmi sr:Трговина људима fi:Ihmiskauppa sv:Människohandel tr:İnsan ticareti uk:Торгівля людьми vi:Buôn người zh:人口贩卖

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