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September 25th, 2003
Dying to Leave
Business of Human Trafficking: Trafficking Routes

Portraying the world’s countless human smuggling routes would require a map lost in a web of arrows. While the maps below are far from a complete catalog of trafficking routes, they denote some of the major regional trends in human trafficking.

Though most of the movement is from east to west, many migrants from Eastern Europe are also trafficked east, to the Middle East.

Source: CIA, The Protection Project, and UNICEF

Important gateways into Western Europe are the Strait of Gibraltar, where North Africans cross into Spain especially during the summertime, and the Adriatic Sea, where migrants, often women and girls, are trafficked from Albania to Italy. By land, migrants from Eastern Europe and Asia follow the Balkan route from former Soviet republics and satellite states through Greece. Illegal immigrants from North Africa also travel across the Mediterranean to Sicily. Many arrive in Britain by smuggling themselves from northern France across the English Channel to the port of Dover. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, young women from Russia, Estonia, and Latvia are trafficked to Finland, where prostitution is legal, to work in the sex trade. Russian women are also trafficked to Norway and Sweden, where prostitution is also legal.

The Americas
Most of the movement on this map is directed toward the United States, but a number of South America migrants are trafficked to work in the Japanese sex industry.

Source: CIA, The Protection Project

According to Interpol, most human cargo is being smuggled into the United States by plane. Increasingly, victims travel first to South Africa, where fraudulent documents may be obtained. Interpol also suggests that seafaring ships usually approach America via the Pacific Ocean, where Canada has also intercepted a number of cargo vessels carrying illegal Chinese immigrants trying to enter through the Vancouver area. But recently, use of this method has declined. Instead, many trafficking victims are arriving in Central or South America to enter the U.S. via Mexico.

Southeast Asia
Most of the women smuggled in this region are sent to work in the commercial sex trade, particularly in Japan.

Source: CIA, The Protection Project

Much of the human trafficking in Southeast Asia centers around Thailand, where the sex trade accounts for between 2 to 14 percent of the gross national product, according to a 1998 report by the International Labor Organization. It is an important location for sex tourism, and the source of many of Japan’s prostitutes. There is an increase in the number of illegal immigrants from South Asia and the Middle East who are arriving on the western shores of Australia, particularly on Christmas Island, which is located quite close to Indonesia. Not featured on this map are land routes from Asia that run through counties like Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to Russia and then on through Ukraine to Western Europe.

  • miki

    i live in trinidad and here we have numerous women from south america working in brothels such as villa capri, rich gold, dads’ dan and limoscne to name just a few popular ones.. it is true that the authorities tolerate prostitution through out the world.. when girls are help in this counrty the women are fined but the people who harbour them and make them work as prostitutes have not one finger pointed at them….
    i feel only pitty for any girl/woman to undure a life on slavery of any kind.

  • sainath

    I feel nothing but ashamed of the janus face of humanity….and where are all the feminists of the world….should not they be working and protesting in moldova or turkey rather than their AC offices……

  • Angie

    The lack of concern for victims in most governments and academia is disgusting. I’m working on a doctoral thesis trying to help in the fight against trafficking, and you won’t believe the complete ignorance and complacency I have come up against in the form of supposedly-educated people in the department. They almost don’t even believe trafficking exists, preferring to believe that all prostitutes just want “easy money”, despite research in the field that proves otherwise.

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