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50 % More Children Trafficked By Family

50 % More Children Trafficked By Family

More than half of the children trafficked for forced labour, domestic work, and sex work are recruited by friends or family members, according to a new analysis.

According to the recent report, over half of child trafficking victims are trafficked within their own country. The study also highlights that in cases of international trafficking, children are often trafficked to neighbouring countries that are wealthier.International Organization for Migration (IOM) and François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University (FXB) brought out the analysis“From Evidence to Action: Twenty Years of IOM Child Trafficking Data to Inform Policy and Programming”.

Despite significant efforts to combat child trafficking, the report indicates that a high number of children continue to fall victim to traffickers. This is largely attributed to various social, economic, environmental, and political factors that contribute to exploitative and discriminatory practices. Forced labor is a prevalent form of exploitation, affecting nearly half of the child trafficking victims, particularly boys. These children are forced into various industries such as domestic work, begging, and agriculture. Sexual exploitation, including prostitution, pornography, and sexual servitude, is another prominent form of trafficking affecting approximately 20 percent of trafficked children, predominantly girls.


The analysis highlights that child trafficking victims come from diverse backgrounds and encompass both genders. According to the data set, 57.4 percent of child victims were female, while 42.6 percent were male. Among young individuals aged 18-23 at the time of IOM registration, the gender disparity is even more pronounced, with 77.4 percent being female.

The report emphasizes that child trafficking can affect individuals across all age ranges. The victims range from new-borns up to 17 years old. Among child victims, the largest group consists of those aged 13-17, accounting for 46.6 percent of cases. Additionally, a noteworthy percentage of child victims (12.6 percent) were between 0 and 2 years old at the time of IOM registration, indicating that they were likely born into situations of trafficking.


False promises were the most common means of control reported by children, with 58.9 percent of victims experiencing this tactic. Psychological and physical abuse were also prevalent, reported by 56.3 percent and 50.6 percent of victims, respectively. Threats against victims (39.5 percent) and the imposition of excessive working hours (36.5 percent) were additional methods of control reported by a significant portion of child victims.


Victims of human trafficking can be exploited in different ways, and the analysis highlights the following findings: 43.4 percent of child victims were trafficked for forced labour, 20.8 percent for sexual exploitation, and a smaller number for both forced labour and sexual exploitation. The industries where child victims reported being exploited for forced labour include domestic work (14.5 percent), begging (10.2 percent), hospitality (3.4 percent), and agriculture (3.3 percent). It is noteworthy that female child victims were more likely to report sexual exploitation (30.3 percent) compared to male child victims (7.3 percent).

Geographically, the analysis revealed patterns in the types of exploitation. Among child victims originating from Europe and Central Asia, 37.3 percent were trafficked for sexual exploitation.


  • Males had 1.99 times the odds of being trafficked as children compared to females. Males also had 1.55 times the odds of being exploited for labour as a child rather than as an adult when compared to females. Male child victims had 39 per cent less likelihood of being trafficked internationally than domestically, as compared to female child victims.
  • Lower levels of education were associated with higher odds of being trafficked as a child. Specifically, victims with no education were 22.76 times more likely to be trafficked as a child than were victims who attended high school.
  • Being trafficked as a child was associated with reduced odds of experiencing sexual exploitation, as compared to being trafficked as an adult. On the other hand, being trafficked as a child was associated with 1.44 times the odds of experiencing labour exploitation, as compared to being trafficked as an adult.
  • Originating from a low-income country tends to be a factor that contributes to increased vulnerability to being trafficked as a child rather than as an adult and particularly to being trafficked for labour exploitation as a child rather than as an adult. Specifically, originating from a low-income country had odds that were 5.57 higher for being trafficked as a child rather than as an adult in comparison to originating from a high-income country.
  • Child victims trafficked for sexual exploitation were more likely to be trafficked internationally, while child victims trafficked for forced labour were more likely to be trafficked domestically.
  • Those from countries at higher risk of disasters and climate change vulnerability had 1.12 times the odds of being trafficked as children compared to adults, but when there was a disaster, child victims had a higher chance of being trafficked domestically rather than internationally


  • Strengthening the evidence base on trafficking in general, and child trafficking in particular: research and the generation and collection of data should be driven by clear policy and programmatic goals to avoid the pitfall of simply collecting data without a clear purpose or intended use.
  • Preventing and reducing vulnerability to trafficking: minimizing children’s exposure to trafficking should be a priority, including through prevention measures that respond to trafficking dynamics and address individual-, community- and society-level factors that contribute to vulnerability to child trafficking.
  • Protecting and assisting child victims of trafficking: ensuring that children who have been trafficked have access to comprehensive, multispectral and coordinated protection and assistance, tailored to their individual circumstances, needs and expressed wishes. This includes strengthening mechanisms for identification and referral of individuals in need, in line with considerations of the best interests of the child.
  • Enhancing coordination of the trafficking response: to comprehensively address child trafficking, governments, civil society and the public and private sectors must work cooperatively to address the underlying drivers of the phenomenon, including the inequities that perpetuate child exploitation and stigmatization. This includes the obligation to uphold international commitments, as well as to strengthen and establish new frameworks for cooperation on the response to trafficking in persons.



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