UN Women: The pandemic drives online trafficking of women and girls

Human trafficking/VCG

UN Women has raised the red flag on the acute rise of online trafficking targeting girls and women during this COVID-19 pandemic period.

Human Trafficking-VCG

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Asa Regner, in a statement said it is unfortunate that the drivers of trafficking in women and girls have intensified as a result of coronavirus crisis.

Ms Regner observed that due to COVID-19, there has been an increase in online recruitment by traffickers of girls and women for the purposes of online sexual exploitation, including through webcam and forced online pornography Women and girls represent 72 percent of all trafficking victims globally, and 77 percent of detected female victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The UN Women official noted that while it should have been safe to assume that restrictions on movement and closed borders would prove to be a barrier for traffickers, it has only provided them with the new and innovative opportunities.

“Europol has documented increased online activity by those seeking child abuse material since the crisis began,” said Ms Regner.

Trafficking is a global problem that transcends borders and is often a crime just out of reach of national law enforcement agencies, especially when it moves to the online space.

“The only way to stop trafficking in women and girls is prevention, which requires changing cultural norms and practices that objectify, debase and control women’s and girls’ bodies,”she added.

She said reducing the demand for sexual exploitation requires challenging harmful masculinities and ideas of male entitlement to women’s bodies, and here we can draw lessons from broader strategies to prevent violence against women.

(With input from the United Nations)