Estimates indicate that at least 50,000 women are brought into the United States for sexual exploitation alone and internationally, over 700,000 women and girls are forced into sexual slavery. Lured by promises of a better life, job opportunities and escape from economically depressed areas, women from South Asia and Eastern Europe respond to advertisements promising work either as waitresses, barmaids, or childsitters abroad that turns out to be employment in the sex trade.
A feminist coalition in the United States, including Equality Now, Sisterhood Is Global Institute, the National Organization for Women, and the Feminist Majority, have campaigned to urge the U.S. government to pass greater protection laws for the lives and human rights of women and girls trafficked in the global sex trade. After months of political stalling by the Republicans in the US Senate, on October 20th Senators voted unanimously to pass the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. The legislation authorizes $94.5 million for victims of sex trafficking and slavery, and toughens current federal maximum penalties for sex traffickers. As one step further, bill specifies the U.S. to withhold certain aid from governments who fail to enforce anti-sex trafficking provisions.
In other regions, organizations in Russia have taken on this serious problem, holding a November conference with 43 anti-trafficking organizations from 25 regions of Russia and six former Soviet republics. Some organizers of the conference believe that around 90% of women trafficked abroad are unaware that they will be in the sex industry. The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women denounced the increase of sex trafficking in Austria, Lithuania, Moldova and Romania. The Interior Ministry of Macedonia has begun to address this epidemic in European countries by strengthening the customs services at its borders and collaborating with neighboring countries to fight the organized sex-trafficking business.