Human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, involves the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain and is a $150 billion global industry. Two thirds of this figure ($99 billion) is generated from commercial sexual exploitation, while another $51 billion results from forced economic exploitation, including domestic work, agriculture and other economic activities. Supra. The average woman trafficked for forced sexual servitude/exploitation generates $100,000 in annual profits (anywhere from 100% to 1,000% return on investment) (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)). According to the United Nations, the smuggling route from East, North and West Africa to Europe is said to generate $150 million in annual profits ($35 billion globally).
New estimates released by the Global Slavery Index in July 2018 indicate that there are 40.3 million victims of modern slavery worldwide, 71% of whom are women and girls and 25% of which are children. (It is noteworthy that the UNODC’s January 7, 2019 Report now estimates the number of children in slavery at almost 1/3 of all global victims.)
99% of the 4.8 million victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2016 were women and girls, with one in five being children (ILO, 2017). Women and girls represented 84% of the 15.4 million people in forced marriages, and 59% of those in private forced labour (8.7 Alliance 2017 Report). The Index maintains that modern day slavery is most prevalent in Africa (with 9.24 million slaves and an average vulnerability score of 62/100).
Human trafficking is a high profit, low risk business which allows traffickers to generally operate with impunity. Globally, in 2017, there were only a total of 17,880 prosecutions and 7,045 convictions. Of all the global victims, only 100,409 were identified. See 2018 U.S. State Department Trafficking In Persons Report. A dismal 1,733 prosecutions and 454 convictions were generated on the entire African continent (2018 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report).