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Combating Child Sex Trafficking in the Digital Age

Globally, human trafficking generates average annual profits of $150 billion, of which two-thirds come from forced sexual exploitation. With the rapid growth of digital platforms threatening to make child sex trafficking even more lucrative, the world must step up its efforts to prevent this appalling crime.

NEW DELHI – A 26-year-old man from Baltimore was recently convicted in the United States on federal charges of trafficking two girls, aged 15 and 16, and then posting advertisements on a website offering them as prostitutes. The man had stayed with the 16-year-old girl in a motel room, along with a woman whom he was also prostituting, and would leave the room when men came to have sex with the girl. One of her customers returned the following day to rescue her and took her to live in another city with his sister.

That girl was relatively lucky, but more than one million child victims of forced sexual exploitation around the world are far less fortunate. Globally, human trafficking generates average annual profits of $150 billion, of which two-thirds ($99 billion) come from forced sexual exploitation. With the rapid growth of digital platforms threatening to make child sex trafficking even more lucrative, the world must take urgent, coordinated action to combat this appalling crime.

Today, almost 4.5 billion people have access to the Internet, and around one in three Internet users is under the age of 18. The unregulated online world is therefore fertile ground for reaping enormous profits from child sex trafficking. Would-be traffickers need only a laptop or a smartphone with a high-speed Internet connection to go into business.

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