Hu­man traf­fick­ing

The term trafficking in human beings describes forms of exploitation whereby persons are taken to another place for exploitation, e.g. through deception, threat, use of force and abduction.

Such exploitation includes sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced labour, slavery, servitude and organ removal, with the most common form being sexual and labour exploitation. Whatever the form, human trafficking represents serious human rights violations.

Hu­man traf­fick­ing mainly af­fects wo­men and girls

The majority of the world's registered human trafficking victims are therefore female, with an increasing proportion of underage girls. Almost three quarters of registered trafficked victims for sexual exploitation were female. Females also made up 35 per cent of those in forced labour. However, victim profiles show considerable regional differences in terms of gender and age. Perpetrators are mainly male, but female perpetrators are being increasingly reported.

Particularly at risk are those fleeing war and persecution. As most people flee within their own country, trafficking in human beings most often takes place within that country or in a neighbouring or transit country. Action to prevent trafficking in human beings must address gender-specific characteristics and needs. It must take a gender-transformative approach to engage with the causes of gender discrimination and help end the unequal power structures between the sexes that increase the risk of human trafficking of women and girls. Social statuses of girls and women must be improved to secure their basic individual rights.

Support provided to trafficked persons must address gender-specific needs and possible traumatic experiences while empowering survivors in their options for action and perspectives. Bringing perpetrators to justice is also vital.


Of all registered trafficked persons

  • 49%Wo­men

  • 23%Girls

  • 21%Men

  • 7%Boys

Full, leg­ally bind­ing defin­i­tion for the traf­fick­ing of hu­man be­ings

"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." x


  1. Quelle: UN (2005) Zusatzprotokoll zur Verhütung, Bekämpfung und Bestrafung des Menschenhandels, insbesondere des Frauen- und Kinderhandels, zum Übereinkommen der Vereinten Nationen gegen die grenzüberschreitende organisierte Kriminalität, „Palermo Protokoll“