2. How Common is Trafficking in Women?

Trafficking in persons, particularly women and children, impacts nearly every country, and the problem has increased in recent years.

Because of its hidden nature, however, it is difficult to determine the precise magnitude of the problem of trafficking in women. As is the case with other forms of violence against women, victims are often reluctant to report or make the fact of the violence known publicly. On the other hand, media reports frequently give estimates of numbers of women trafficked into the commercial sex industry for various regions and countries. Such statistics vary widely and are frequently unreliable or inaccurate. Furthermore, the methods by which such statistical data are gathered are seldom included, and statistics are generally not disaggregated by the sex of the victim.

The United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report for 2002, notes "Over the past year, at least 700,000, and possibly as many as four million, men, women and children worldwide were bought, sold, transported and held against their will in slave-like conditions." The United Nations Population Fund states "Statistics about trafficking are unreliable for a number of reasons, including the clandestine nature of the activity. However, rough estimates suggest that between 700,000 to 2 million women are trafficked across international borders annually. Adding domestic trafficking would bring the total much higher, to perhaps 4 million persons per year."

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