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A Brief Overview: UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

by Julie Godchaux-Linneman

What is the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons in 2020?

The 2020 UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons is the fifth of its kind mandated by the General Assembly through the 2010 United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. It covers 148 countries and provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at global, regional and national levels, based primarily on trafficking cases detected between 2016 and 2019.

This Report provides four thematic chapters.

  • Chapter One is an introduction to the issues, players in global trafficking and all of the research done for the report.

  • Chapter Two of the report examines how poverty and loss of opportunity are tools used by traffickers to recruit and exploit their victims.

  • Chapter Three looks at child sex trafficking specifically, and identifies the patterns of how poverty, social norms and family backgrounds may cause more children to be lost to sex trafficking and how child sex trafficking differs from all other types.

  • Chapter Four focus on labor trafficking and identifies which economic sectors are the most vulnerable to trafficking.

Chapter Five presents how the internet and other technologies are used by traffickers of all kinds to facilitate recruitment and exploitation.

Countries and Regions Included in the Report

The report after the four thematic chapters breaks into regional overviews and country profiles. Each break out section includes many relevant sources of information and issues pertaining to each location identified. One of the most intriguing issues brought up by the report discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the issues of trafficking.

“It was also observed that the general deterioration of economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic would likely have a severe impact on the magnitude and composition of global cross-border trafficking flows in countries, such as Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.” Beginning on page 69, Chapter 2

The Report and Child Sex Trafficking

The report spends a significant amount of time on the issue of child sex trafficking, specifically in chapter three.

Here are the main takeaways-

  • The population at-risk of trafficking in low-income countries still mainly consists of children living in extremely poor households.

  • Other factors also contributed to the profile of victims of child trafficking including behavioral and developmental needs, lack of parental care and/or dysfunctional families even in high income countries.

  • Among children, girls between 14 and 17 years old appeared to be particularly targeted.

  • Girls’ risk of death as a result of violence increased from early to late adolescence from last year’s report and the first incident of sexual violence occurred most often between the ages of 15 and 19.

  • Some studies in Central America suggested that domestic violence and other forms of violence against women and children, as well as discrimination against ethnic minorities, potentially increased the risk of girls becoming victims of trafficking.

  • Child trafficking for forced marriage was also found to be more common during periods of drought and economic hardship, and in cases of natural disasters like South Asian floods.

Important Facts and Figures from the Report

  • In 2018, for every 10 trafficked victims detected globally, about five were adult women and two were girls.

  • About one third of the overall detected victims were children, both girls and boys, while 20% were adult men.

  • Overall, 50% of detected victims were trafficked for sexual exploitation, with 72% of girls trafficked solely for sex trafficking.

  • Other forms of trafficking continued to be forced labor, criminal activity, begging, forced marriages, organ removal, and other purposes.

If you would like to read this report, please go to to have free access to the report.

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