Sex trafficking is a booming business. Estimates suggest that 43% of all forced labour victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation. It's happening in our region, and perpetrators are employing technically savvy methods to make their industry thrive.
Every year, thousands of women and girls, men and boys are trafficked globally for the sole purpose of sexual exploitation. They are often abducted, lured with half truths or even promises of marriage and a better life.
Once enslaved, sex-trafficked victims are subjected to sexual, physical and psychological abuse from traffickers, pimps and customers. Many discover that they have incurred a debt which they are bonded to pay off in the form of sexual labour. These debts can last a lifetime.
In global terms, sex trafficking is happening right on our doorstep. In fact, one of the fastest growing sex trade 'hubs' is in the Asia Pacific region. This encompasses countries surrounding the Mekong River, including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and southern China.
It's almost unthinkable, but many victims in the sex trade are children. Child sex tourists (paedophiles) come to these regions knowing they will easily find young children for sex and still be able to maintain their anonymity. It is their demand for young children that keeps the sex tourism industry thriving. Adding to the problem are new technologies like webcam and mobile phone video and cameras: they create new ways for children to be exploited.
Due to the highly secretive nature of the sex trade, hunting out and bringing sex traffickers and sex tourists to justice is immensely difficult.
World Vision takes a holistic approach to this human rights issue and is tackling it on two fronts: working to influence and strengthen anti-trafficking policy, and protecting and rehabilitating vulnerable children.