72% Of Trafficked Underage Girls Are Subject To Sexual Exploitation

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72% Of Trafficked Underage Girls Are Subject To Sexual ExploitationPA Images

A new report has revealed a concerning increase in the number of children being victims of human trafficking.

Conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the report found that there’s been an increase of more than 30% in the number of children being trafficked compared to 15 years ago.


As of 2018, boys made up 15% of all detected trafficking victims, while girls made up 19%. Men made up 20%, alongside women making up 46%.

The UNODC identified three main reasons children, men, and women are trafficked: sexual exploitation; forced labour; and other forms of exploitation such as begging, forced marriages and baby selling.

A person begging in the streets (PA)PA Images

Adult women make up a large majority of those trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation; of those whose age, sex and form of exploitation were reported, 77% were victim to this. This figure was taken from data across 106 countries.


Sadly, a similar trend has been found with girls; as of 2018, 72% of girl victims of were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

There have been worryingly high rates of human trafficking in the US. The country only made human trafficking illegal in 2000 and was found to be one of the worst places for human trafficking in 2018 alongside Mexico and the Philippines.

The most recent data analysed by the UNODC shows that more than 9,300 people have been detected as trafficking victims in North America in recent years. In total, more than 49,000 cases of human trafficking in the US have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline since 2007, Business Insider reports.

Cambodian Begger Plys His Trade In The Middle Of A Busy Street; Phnom Penh Cambodia (PA)PA Images

Last year, 22 people in the US were arrested for seeking to have in sex with a minor. The mission that took place in October saw 45 missing children being rescued by US marshals in what was described as the largest anti-human trafficking effort in Ohio’s history. A further 157 men were arrested on charges of soliciting and other crimes in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Lucas counties.

The mission rescued a total of 109 people, which led to more than 70 missing and exploited children cases being cleared.

Fast forward to January 2021 and a further 33 children were found by Los Angeles Police Department as part of its ‘Operation Lost Angels’. Eight of the 33 who were rescued were said to have been victims of sexual exploitation at the time of the operation, while others had been exploited in the past.

In the UK, nearly 5,000 children were referred to the national referral mechanism (NRM) as victims of trafficking in 2020, Stop The Traffik reports. This was up 10% from the year prior.



As well as sexual exploitation, forced labour is one of the things children are most likely to be subjected to. According to World’s Children, children are four times more likely be trafficked for forced labour than sex.

Today, July 30, marks World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The US Department of State has created a list of ways you can do your part to fight human trafficking. These include: learning the indicators of human trafficking, such as signs of physical abuse; volunteer anti-trafficking efforts in your community; using your social media platforms to raise awareness about human trafficking; and become a mentor to a young person or someone in need. You can read the full list here.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article and would like some advice, you can visit the Unseen UK website, or call their helpline on 0303 040 2888.

Topics: Featured, children, Features, Human Trafficking, News, UK, United Nations, US


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and 1 other
  1. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

    Global Report Overview 2020

  2. Business Insider

    20 staggering facts about human trafficking in the US

Niamh Shackleton
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