As the Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children came to a close, a senior Interpol official estimated that worldwide trafficking of people, including women and children for prostitution, is worth $9 billion a year. According to officials, however, this number is only the “tip of the iceberg.” Sex trafficking is the third most lucrative criminal activity in the world after smuggling arms and narcotics. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that more than one million children, primarily girls, are forced into the sex trade each year. In the United States alone, between 244,000 and 325,000 women and children are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
The Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held in Yokohama, Japan and organized by UNICEF, the government of Japan, ECPAT International, and the Non-Governmental Organization Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ended on December 20 and called for tougher laws and more comprehensive international partnerships to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation.