It is estimated that between 12 and 27 million people globally are currently caught in human trafficking and exploited for their labor or sexual services. In a report by Dall Oglio to the UN General Assembly in 2004, he stated that 10 billion dollars are exchanged every year in the sex industry. Putting this number in perspective, of the 186 member countries in the International Monetary Fund in 2004; 81 of those members had national GDPs that were less than the amount of money generated by the sex industry that year.
To begin combating the monstrosities represented by these numbers, we must recognize that trafficking is an industry and the sex trade is a business. These are economically driven enterprises.
Trafficking was first defined by the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Put in the simplest of terms: it is the recruitment, transfer or keeping of humans for the purpose of exploitation. According to the US Department of State report Trafficking in Persons (2007), human trafficking is the world’s third largest criminal enterprise after drugs and weapons. While the exact numbers for these three enterprises are understandably hard to obtain, it is speculated that human trafficking has more recently taken the number two spot over weapons. There is more money to be made in human trafficking, and less chance of being caught or punished. The entire chain of distributors will earn a profit, the product is less capital intensive and the ‘merchandise’ can be sold over and over again. Understanding the sex trade as an economic enterprise means we must intentionally and systematically consider the use of business as a strategy to fight the trade on both a macro and micro level. Read more