“The vast majority of victims are still not being found.”
International numbers are even more staggering. Sex trafficking, according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, is a $99 billion-a-year global industry. The exploitation of more than 1 million children accounts for more than 20 percent of those profits.
And there’s evidence that the child sex trade is growing. ECPAT International, a research and advocacy organization, concluded in 2016 in a first of its kind global study that more children than ever are at risk of abuse.
Mark Capaldi, ECPAT’s lead researcher, said in an interview at the organization’s Bangkok headquarters that rising global incomes, cheaper air travel and better internet access have fueled the increase in demand. In short, it’s cheaper and easier than ever for adults to exploit children.
Another reason for the growing exploitation: Buyers face little risk. “You’re unlucky if you get caught,” Bjorn Sellstrom, the head of INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children unit, said in Lyon, France. “It’s fairly free of risk to travel to another country and abuse children.”