A top UN official recently called the trafficking of women and children across Asia the largest slave trade in history. Speaking at the International Symposium on Trafficking of Children in Tokyo, Kul Gautum described the current slave trade as a system that uses “even more cruel and devious means than the original slave trade,” as reported by the BBC.
More than 30 million women and children have become victims of sex trafficking in the past three decades, according to Gautum. Poverty, globalization, organized crime, and discrimination are the main factors contributing to the sex trade, which primarily victimizes teenage girls.
Gautum urged that law enforcement officials must be given proper training and be held more accountable in the face of widespread corruption. He also noted that the education of women and children is crucial in preventing the sex trade. UNICEF is currently training 600,000 people in Bangladesh to educate their peers about child trafficking.
The two-day conference, co-sponsored by UNICEF and the Japanese Foreign Ministry, brought together more than 100 delegates from several Asian countries including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.