270,000 victims of human trafficking are living in Europe / 17,500 people trafficked into the U.S. and enslaved
According to the United Nations there may be up to 270'000 victims of the crime of human trafficking alone within the EU (European Union). Following the UN’s office on crime authorities in the EU are not aware of the extent of the problem. It may well be the case that the current figures of trafficking must be adjusted upwards thirtyfold. Most of the victims are women who are smuggled across borders and then forced into prostitution. However, there are also male victims who are then coerced to work on farms (mostly). The UN therefore pushed its member states to increase efforts to fight trafficking back.
The uncovering of the these new numbers came on the not-so-well known European Anti-Trafficking Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness for the crime and its victims.
The director of UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime), Antonia Maria Costa, confirmed that barely any human traffickers are ever convicted, many are not even caught at all. Indeed, not even one of one hundred thousand citizens is convicted for trafficking in or within Europe. Even for kidnapping (a very rare crime) more people are convicted in the European Union. According to Costa, police forces in EU member states are not working hard enough on the problem and suggested: “Perhaps police are not finding the traffickers and victims because they are not looking for them”. Most of the traffickers that are prosecuted succesfully are male locals from the areas where victims come from. Even when traffickers are not locals they often still have the same nationality as the trafficked.
What is especially disturbing is that about 10 percent of the victims (that is 27,000 of 270,000) are minors. Even adult victims are mostly very young.
The US state department assumes that about 17,500 people are trafficked into the US every year. There are currently about 200.000 victims of trafficking in the USA today. The victims are usually forced to work as prostitutes, farm hands, housekeepers or factory workers. According to one NGO in New York (state) most women trafficked into the state are from Latin America.
The US began monitoring the issue in 1994 when it first became covered in the Department of State’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.