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The Protection Project, a human rights project which is based at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., reported in in March 2001 that trafficking of women and children is on the rise worldwide, with a greater movement of sex slaves from African countries to the United States, Canada, and Europe.
The Protection Project, which gathers information on the trafficking of women and children, has compiled an online data base and report documenting the scope of the problem in more than 190 countries and laws aimed at tackling the issue.
"The simple reason for the growth of trafficking in recent years is that it is profitable. Traffickers know that the potential profits are high and that the risk of prosecution is relatively low," said Laura Lederer, director of the project. "With low risk and high profit potential, human trafficking may well become the new crime of choice," she added.
One surprise from her research was the tremendous amount of traffic from African countries into Europe, the United States Canada and other countries, Lederer said.
"There's been such a media focus on Thailand, Russia and the Ukraine, countries in Africa have been ignored," she said. Nigeria, South Africa, Mali, Zambia, Gambia, Togo, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the African countries featuring prominently in her report.
In addition, she said there was a lot of traffic to Middle Eastern countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Lederer said their research showed that while laws existed in many countries, they did not have the political support needed to implement
them. "This is a human rights abuse but also a law enforcement problem."
It is impossible to provide exact figures on the extent
of the problem because it is criminal in nature. However, according to U.S. government estimates, 50,000 women are brought to the United States each year and forced to work as prostitutes. The report said many of these sex slaves came from countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Mexico, the Czech Republic and China. With globalization, the sex industry increasingly involves vast networks of organized criminals, modern Mafia and corrupt government
Russia and newly independent states such as Ukraine are among the biggest "senders" of women and children along with a host of African countries moving them to European countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and France.
The data base, which will be updated daily, is intended to help those fighting against the sex slave trade.
The Web address for the data base is http://www.protectionproject.org.