This paper will briefly outline how the UN Optional Protocol to Prevent, suppress and punish the Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000) differs from its predecessor (1949) Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and of the exploitation of the prostitution of others) in its treatment of prostitution. And it will critically consider whether this new approach is justified, commenting specifically on the arguments for and against the explicit linkage of trafficking and prostitution.
Trafficking in human beings includes illegal transport of people for the purposes of labour exploitation and sexual exploitation. Trafficking in persons is not limited to the sex industry and prostitution, but includes also different forms of bonded labour. Trafficking in persons is a global phenomenon. Although it seems to have increased in intensity during the last 10-15 years, it is not a new phenomenon. Slavery and trafficking in persons, either for sexual exploitation or for labour, has taken place in different forms throughout history. The recent growth seems to be facilitated by increased globalisation and modern communication techniques. There are, however, also those that argue that the recent focus on trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation is partly a result of an increased focus on the phenomenon, rather than a result of an increasing problem. It is difficult to obtain figures on trafficking in persons. The United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention has set up a database on global trends, cross national routes and the volume of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, as well as data on victims and offenders of trafficking and responses of criminal justice systems to this criminal activity. The database is not yet publicly available. This type of database is the first of its kind and will be used to facilitate development of strategies to combat trafficking both nationally and globally.
Increasing global economic disparity, poverty, lack of education prospects, lack of adequate employment opportunities and the disruption of traditional livelihoods contribute to the existence of trafficking in persons. Trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation is also directly linked to the increasing proportion of women among the world's poor and to women's disadvantaged social, economic and legal situation in many countries. Trafficking does not only exist due to an increase in supply of potential persons to be trafficked. The global demand for cheap and undeclared labour as well as the demand for women and children in the globalised sex market together with large numbers of potential immigrants form a lucrative ground for traffickers to engage in this crime. Trafficking in persons has become a very profitable business for different organised crime groups. Trafficking in persons is practised alongside the more traditional forms of crime such as drug trafficking and the illegal arms trade. In many instances trafficking in persons has overtaken the more traditional forms of crime since profits tend to be bigger and risks lower. So far, penalties have also been relatively ...