border control

Trafficking of Women in the Balkans: A Modern-Day Slavery

Over the past decade, “trafficking in persons” or “human trafficking” for commercial sexual exploitation has been one of the fastest growing areas of international organized criminal activity. In simplest terms, human trafficking is “a cruel, ruthless, and cynical form of human exploitation, a serious crime, and a gross violation of human dignity.”1 In legal terms, it is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve consent of a person having control over an-other person for the purpose of exploitation.”2 Even though the terms “human trafficking” and “human smuggling” are at times used interchangeably, the critical factor that distinguishes trafficking from smuggling is the use of force, coercion and/or deception in order to exploit the victims. In other words, while human smuggling refers only to the illegal transport of a person across international borders for benefit or profit and does not necessarily entail exploitation, human trafficking entails sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, or practices similar to slavery.3
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  1. “Poverty and Trafficking in Human Beings: A Strategy for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,” Department of Global Development, 2003. Available at:
  2. Susan Dewey, Hollow Bodies: Institutional Responses to Sex Trafficking in Armenia, Bosnia and India (USA: Kumarian Press, 2008), 37.
  3. “Trafficking in Person to Europe for Sexual Exploitation,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2010. Available at: