countries, are lured by false promises of remunerated employment - made directly to them or to their parents, guardians and relatives - into leaving their homes and travelling to what they assume will be a better life. An organised network provides victims with false travel documents and transports them to the destination country, where they find themselves forced into sexual slavery, held against their will in inhumane conditions, in constant fear of their lives and wellbeing, and suffering psychological trauma.
As a result of trafficking, many women, girls and boys fall victims to forced labour in sectors such as agriculture, primarily in developing countries. Women and children are recruited and trafficked using deception and coercion, and find themselves in a variety of forced work engaged in agricultural and construction work, domestic servitude and other labour- intensive jobs. They live in appalling conditions of slavery, abuse and sexual and gender-based violence, often without due remuneration, freedom of movement or options to report to authorities or escape from such exploitative conditions.
The commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism has been apparent in Asia for many years and has now taken hold in Africa and Central and South America. The phenomenon is promoted by the growth of inexpensive air travel and the relatively low risk in these destinations of prohibition and prosecution for engaging in sexual relations with minors. As noted above, disasters will heighten this risk for vulnerable individuals by disrupting normative social and cultural codes of conduct, behaviour, policing and prosecution.
DYNAMICS OF TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN THE HINDU KUSH-HIMALAYAS
Indeed, some estimates from Maiti Nepal1 suggest that
trafficking from Nepal may have increased from an estimated 3-5,000 per year during the pre-war times (1990) to possibly 12-20,000 per year in 2010. This includes internal and external trafficking. Internal trafficking increased extensively during and after the ten years of armed conflict in Nepal, though great uncertainty exists about such estimates.
1. Maiti Nepal is an internationally recognised and acclaimed NGO working against human trafficking and towards the protection and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking from Nepal (http://www.maitinepal.org/).
Maiti Nepal rescues an estimated 2,000 thousand girls each year, including children and women intercepted at borders and victims liberated from brothels and from various forms of abuse and exploitation. It provides them with education, protection and rehabilitation. Current estimates are that Maiti Nepal receives over 4,000 thousand reports of missing young women suspected of being abducted every year. The majority, an estimated 70%, are sold and forced into prostitution; the remaining 30% are sold for forced labour. Foreign destinations of the missing women include India, China, the Gulf and the Middle East.
The greatest number of missing women are trafficked to Mumbai, India, where 38% of such girls and women (average age 16 years) are found to be infected with HIV/AIDS (Silverman et al., 2007; Gupta et al., 2008). Across the South Asian region, up to 40% of prostituted women and girls enter the sex trade prior to age 18, that is, as children (Silverman, 2011). Although estimates of HIV/AIDS prevalence among prostitutes in South Asia vary widely from 12-54% (Brahme et al., 2006; Sarkar et al., 2008), studies consistently document that those women and girls who entered the sex trade as minors are at a significantly greater risk for both HIV/AIDS infection and victimisation by violence (Silverman, 2011). Violence from men clients and clients refusing to wear condoms is common. For instance, in Thailand, 15% of women in prostitution report experiencing violence on a weekly basis and 72% of these women report that their male clients had refused to have sex with a condom (Decker et al., 2010).
Importantly, these risks may be most extreme among the youngest victims. Among sex trafficked women and girls in Nepal, over 60% of girls trafficked prior to the age of 15 years were found to be infected with HIV/AIDS, four times the rate of infection experienced among those trafficked at 18 years or older (Silverman, 2007). Violence is often directed against those who are vulnerable because of their young age; in southern India, 1 in 3 women and girls 19 years old or younger report having been raped or beaten in the past year (Beattie et al., 2010).
Girls forced into the sex trade before the age of 15 are also significantly more likely to be moved from brothel to brothel than older trafficking victims (Silverman et al., 2007). The youngest girls in the sex trade also report having significantly higher numbers of forced sex partners than their older peers (Sarkar et al., 2008). Not surprisingly, each additional month