Two million fall victim to slave trade each year, says UN

Louise Arbour, the UN's High Commissioner of Human Rights, said millions of women and children were ending up as sex slaves, beggars and forced labourers because of human trafficking, and called for closer international co-operation to prevent it.

Ann Veneman, the executive director of Unicef, the UN children's organisation, said two million people were estimated to be trafficked every year. "No country or region is immune," she added.

The senior UN officials were attending an Asia-Pacific human rights conference in Beijing. China has come under intense criticism for its own human rights record, and tight security at the hotel where the conference was held was believed to be designed to prevent Chinese petitioners from approaching Ms Arbour with their own complaints of abuse at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Human trafficking is a term for the illegal smuggling of people, not as refugees but as cheap or slave labour.

In the Asia-Pacific region, especially south-east Asia, it is a problem of epidemic proportions, and it is fuelled mostly by the sex trade.

Girls from poor villages, particularly in Burma, Cambodia and the Philippines, are lured into cities or neighbouring countries, where they are forced to work as prostitutes. They are flown abroad to work as far as Australia, Japan and the United States.

Many are lured with promises of better-paid jobs than they could ever dream of at home, and have no idea that they will end up as prostitutes. Others know they are going into prostitution, but are fooled into believing they will be paid and free to leave when they have made enough money, but are instead forced to work as sex slaves.

The problem is "horrendous", Ms Arbour said. "By its very nature, it constitutes an acute violation of human rights and reports today suggest that more people are being trafficked than ever before." Far from helping the victims of trafficking, many governments punish them, Ms Arbour said. "Often, those who are trafficked are criminalised, for example as illegal migrants or prostitutes, when they should be receiving assistance as victims."

Ms Veneman said that children were not immune from trafficking, and were forced to work as child sex slaves. "Children are forced into prostitution, begging and soliciting, labour on plantations and in mines, markets, factories and domestic work."

She told the conference that on a recent trip to Africa, she met children who had been kidnapped and heard first-hand from some girls how they had been forced to become child soldiers, and from others how they had been sold into sex slavery.

"Gender-based violence in any of its forms denies girls and women their basic rights and dignity, and harms the development of entire countries," she said.

Thirty-seven Asia- Pacific countries are attending the conference. Some observers have criticised China as an unlikely setting for a conference on human rights, given its own poor record.

A Chinese official who met Ms Arbour, Tang Jiaxuan, gave the usual Chinese government line: "Every country should choose its own way to protect human rights according to its national situation."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world