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Trafficking for sexual exploitation: Victim protection in international and domestic asylum law

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Introduction

It is extremely difficult to assess the worldwide scale of human trafficking because of the clandestine nature of the crime. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that there are, at a minimum, approximately 2.5 million victims of human trafficking at any given time. According to the UNODC, approximately 79 per cent of all human trafficking is for the purpose of sexual exploitation, while the ILO estimates that 98 per cent of the people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls.

Women fall victim to trafficking for many reasons. Primarily, they search out work in wealthier countries and are promised jobs as waitresses or nannies and are subsequently forced into sexually exploitative situations upon arrival in the country of destination. It is unquestionable that inequality and economic disadvantage play a prominent role in rendering people vulnerable to trafficking. An equally important contributing factor is the ability to draw vast profits from the exploitation of humans and the relatively low risk of being held accountable for these crimes.