The US State Department estimates that, each year, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide for forced labour or sex. UNICEF says that around one million children and young people are trafficked every year, and many European newspapers and magazines regularly report the trafficking of children and young people for the sex trade.
According to the author, however, these numbers and figures are often inaccurate, and while there are undoubtedly many cases of forced migration, we should try to avoid generalising or speculating when talking about human trafficking and the sex trade. She says that most reports on trafficking are not based on empirical research, but only on statistics, which are often published with little to no explanation of how they were collected or what they really mean.
Some organisations use data from the CIA, which the author maintains is generally regarded as an unreliable and biassed source on international affairs. Statistics on this ‘new form of slavery’ are so high because they are often produced under false assumptions, and researchers automatically label migrant women working as prostitutes as having been ‘trafficked’, because they presume that no one would ever choose to sell sex.
The author suggests that this attitude patronises migrant women by assuming that they have no say in the matter, as if they were objects that can simply be moved from one place to another, rather than humans capable of thinking and making their own decisions.