“Trafficking in persons is 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.”

(From the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which complements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.)

Almost a third of the total number of victims of trafficking in persons globally are children.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared 30 July as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, ans stated that said date is necessary to “raise more awareness on the situation of the victims of trafficking in persons and to promote and protect their rights.” The Resolution (A/RES/68/192), also “invites all Member States, relevant agencies of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, to observe the World Day.”

In the last decades, the international community has undertaken to develop, implement and consolidate effective measures to fight and eliminate all forms of trafficking in persons, in order to counteract the demand and protect the victims. Thus, in this century three documents were defined, which, together, constitute the full package of international obligations expressly related to trafficking in persons: the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the Interpretative Notes to the Trafficking Protocol.

The situation is alarming. In its last report, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), indicates that almost a third of the total number of victims of trafficking in persons around the world are children. Also, it stated that 71% of victims of trafficking in persons are women and girls.

In sub-saharan africa and central america and the caribbean, two thirds of victims of trafficking in persons are children.

The report emphasizes that, while women and girls tend to be victims of trafficking in persons in the context of marriage or sexual slavery, men and boys are generally exploited in forced labor in the mining industry, by working as loaders, soldiers and slaves. While 28% of victims of trafficking in persons around the world are children, in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa and Central American and the Caribbean this group constitutes the 62% and 64% of victims, respectively.

The UNODC document includes information about the myriad of routes for victims of trafficking in persons, including those within countries, between neighboring countries and even between different continents. More than 500 examples of these routes were identified between 2012 and 2014. It also mentions victims of trafficking in persons from Sub-Saharan Africa and southeastern Asia to many destinations. A total number of 69 countries have reported to have identified victims from Sub-Saharan Africa these days.

This report is the third of this kind ordered by the General Assembly through the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons and reinforce the link between this fight and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. It covers 136 countries and provides a general vision of the patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at a global, regional and national level, based mainly on cases of trafficking in persons identified between 2012 and 2014. Since the UNODC has systematically been collecting data on trafficking in persons for over a decade, the information on trends is submitted for a large scale of indicators.

Between 2012 and 2014 more than 500 routes for trafficking in persons around the world were identified.

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, when presenting the work, indicated that “trafficking in persons with the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor are still the most identified forms of this crime. However, there are also victims of trafficking in persons in the context of poverty, forced or fraudulent marriages, or pornography.”

The report shows that about 158 states, which represent 88% of the countries, have criminalized trafficking in persons according to the guidelines of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. However, according to Fedotov “the rate of guilty verdicts is still low and victims do not always get the protection and services that States should provide.”

The report developed by the United Nations Office shows that we clearly need to allocate more resources to identify and assist the victims, as well as to improve the actions of the criminal justice system to judicially and successfully identify, investigate and prosecute trafficking cases.

The images that are part of the publication belong to the independent project “Un problema real”, (A real problem) developed in Argentina recently, in which the same prostitution ads are used to raise awareness on what cannot be seen: the profitable business of trafficking in persons.

Juan Pablo Chaves and Rubén Sánchez, who live in the City of Buenos Aires, are the authors of the project. The murals were first made by hand, flyer by flyer, which demanded a lot of time. For that reason, they then started to scan the flyers and also to recreate the faces that way, for the amount of murals to increase.