Human Rights for All
'Seize them. Defend them. Promote them.
Understand them and insist on them.
Nourish and enrich them.
Their fate and future is in your hands!'
Secretary General Kofi Annan, statement launching
The sex trade is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative forms of international crime. Millions of women, mostly from rural areas, have been forced into prostitution in cities by gangs promising them jobs and riches or smuggled abroad to be kept virtual prisoners in foreign brothels. "It is the world's biggest violation of human rights," according to Pino Arlacchi, executive director of the UN Drug Control Programme.
Over the past twenty years, thirty million girls and women have been involved in the sex trade - almost three times the number of slaves shipped across the Atlantic to America over four centuries. The figure is an estimate by the United Nations, which has launched a campaign to fight the trafficking in prostitutes and sex slaves from developing countries. Governments hope this will lead to a new UN convention to help them crack down on global organised crime.
Globalisation has led to the explosion of trafficking in women and child prostitutes. The cost of communications is now so low that millions of people travel around the world in search of sex. Prostitution, which used to be limited by tradition and custom, is now part of a global market. And the demand, mainly from Western Europe, Japan and America, has had a devastating impact on the Third World especially. Evidence showed that those dealing in drugs and illegal arms often also turned to the smuggling of women and immigrants.
WomenAid has launched 'Shattered Lives' an awareness and lobbying campaign to help stop this appalling trade. Action is needed at all levels to stop the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation.
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