Human trafficking of girls in particular "on the rise," United Nations warns

By Pamela Falk

/ CBS News

Foreign women are seen in a karaoke bar in Thailand's southern province of Narathiwat during a police raid as part of a campaign against prostitution and human trafficking involving women and minors, Nov. 9, 2018. Getty

United Nations — A new U.N. report warns "the number of human trafficking victims is on the rise" as criminal gangs and terror groups prey increasingly on women and children to make money and bolster their numbers. The 90-page Global Trafficking in Persons report says that while countries across the globe are having greater success at finding and reporting victims of trafficking, and apprehending traffickers, the number of children victimized by the crime is rising.

The report states that children, who account for 30 percent of all trafficking victims, include "far more" girls than boys, with sexual exploitation seen as the main motivation for the trafficking, accounting for about 59 percent.

"The vast majority of detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and 35 percent of those trafficked for forced labor are female," Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) wrote in the report, adding that trafficking cases overall have hit a 13-year high.

The report, published by the UNODC earlier this month, was presented at a panel discussion at U.N. Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Human trafficking to the United States

"In terms of transnational trafficking, North America is a destination for significant flows from countries in Central America and the Caribbean… mainly directed to the United States and Mexico," the report says.

The report also found that trafficking specifically involving victims moved over vast distances often "originates in East Asia and is mainly directed to the United States."

How to spot the signs of sex trafficking

"Child soldiers, forced labor, sexual slavery — human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters," Fedotov said during the U.N. panel discussion.

With regard to the origin of trafficking flows, victims from Central America and the Caribbean have been found in or repatriated from 27 countries, including during the three year period between 2014 and 2017, when "victims from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were detected in or repatriated from North America (mainly the United States and Mexico."

The issue has also been highlighted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), which produced a report evaluating domestic victims of human trafficking, and a documentary, entitled "Sex + Money" was released, intended to raise awareness of human trafficking within the U.S. The film focuses on how children are groomed by traffickers and asserts that "sexual exploitation of children has become the nation's fastest-growing form of organized crime."

President Trump has repeatedly pointed to the crime of human trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border to bolster his demand for a wall or fence along the frontier. Mr. Trump has long suggested that Mexico would pay for such a barrier, but a standoff between the White House and congress over funding for the construction project led to the recent partial government shutdown.

Trump says odds of deal on wall is "less than 50-50"

"Victims can be in restaurants, fisheries, brothels, farms and homes," Rani Hong said, recounting his experience as a victim. He was taken from his home in India at the age of seven and eventually sold for illegal adoption in Canada and later the United States.

Why the U.N. compiled the report

The U.N. report is based on data gathered from 155 nations and provides an overview of trafficking patterns, legal steps taken in response, and country-specific information on reported cases of trafficking in persons, victims, and prosecutions.

Just over two years ago, the U.N. Security Council "requested the Secretary-General to take steps to improve the collection of data, monitoring and analysis of trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict."

The UNODC's Fedotov said the need for urgent action was brought to international attention by the office's Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, Nadia Murad, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

The award to Murad, and to Dr. Denis Mukwege, was for their work to end sexual violence as a weapon of war — work which was highlighted in interviews with "60 Minutes."

When 60 Minutes met the Nobel Peace Prize winners

Murad, a member of the Muslim minority Yazidi sect, was forced into slavery and raped by ISIS terrorists after her village in Iraq was destroyed and family members killed.

Simone Monasebian, Director of the New York office of UNODC, told diplomats, "a lot has been done on human trafficking, but we still have a long way to go."

First published on January 30, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pamela Falk

Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.

THAILAND-TRAFFICKING

Human trafficking, particularly of girls, "on the rise"

United Nations report warns "far more" girls being trafficked, with sexual exploitation seen as the primary motivation of gangs, terror groups

updated 17M ago

Transcript: Michael Rogers on "Intelligence Matters"

Former NSA director on actions U.S. can take to deter cyber attacks

updated 22M ago

Former NSA director's advice on deterring cyber attacks

Adm. Mike Rogers (ret.) says the administration's rhetoric should better match its actions

updated 38M ago

Polar vortex, blamed for at least 6 deaths, sweeps Midwest

Nation's midsection is getting hit with an arctic blast producing some of the coldest weather in a generation

5H ago

USPS suspends mail delivery in states affected by polar vortex

Service will be suspended Wednesday in parts of Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois (including parts of Chicago), Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, western Pennsylvania, the Dakotas and Nebraska, the USPS said

6H ago

Transcript: Michael Rogers on "Intelligence Matters"

Former NSA director on actions U.S. can take to deter cyber attacks

updated 22M ago

Former NSA director's advice on deterring cyber attacks

Adm. Mike Rogers (ret.) says the administration's rhetoric should better match its actions

updated 38M ago

Ocasio-Cortez shared her skincare regimen on Instagram Stories

This is just the latest way she has showcased her skill in cultivating an authentic social media presence

8H ago

L.A. mayor not running for president in 2020

Eric Garcetti has been the mayor of Los Angeles since 2013

8H ago

Eric Schneiderman covered legal bills with campaign cash: AP

The former New York attorney general was accused of physically abusing multiple women

12H ago

Human trafficking, particularly of girls, "on the rise"

United Nations report warns "far more" girls being trafficked, with sexual exploitation seen as the primary motivation of gangs, terror groups

updated 17M ago

Brazil's deadly dam waste threatens water supply

Dam failure has already left 84 dead and a potential environmental disaster is still looming

1H ago

Venezuela's Maduro claims Trump ordered his assassination

But the embattled leader, no longer recognized by U.S., also signals new willingness to negotiate as pressure mounts from inside and outside Venezuela

1H ago

Mother of American held in Iran worried about her son's health

Michael White was on a trip to Iran last July when he disappeared

11H ago

Venezuelan Supreme Court bars opposition leader from leaving country

National Security Adviser John Bolton said there would be "serious consequences" if National Assembly President Juan Guaidó is harmed

8H ago

Grammy-winning R&B singer James Ingram dies at 66

James Ingram has been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards, winning for "100 Ways" in 1981 and for "Yah Mo B There" in 1984

9H ago

"Empire" actor assaulted in possible hate crime, police say

The actor told Chicago Police a group of men yelled racial and homophobic slurs and wrapped a rope around his neck

6H ago

Gwyneth Paltrow sued over alleged "hit and run ski crash"

A Utah man says the actress was "skiing out of control" when she knocked him down, leaving with with severe injuries

12H ago

Kendall Jenner and top models can be subpoenaed over Fyre Festival

Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski among the models who can be subpoenaed for promoting the failed music festival

13H ago

Free "Black Panther" screenings for Black History Month

Disney said the film will be shown at 250 participating AMC locations nationwide the first week in February

19H ago

Chicago is expected to be colder than Mount Everest base camp

It's also set to be colder than the South Pole

11H ago

NOAA responds to Trump's climate change skepticism with a cartoon

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tweeted increasing winter storms are a side effect of global warming

13H ago

Earnings week for Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon

High-tech giants in Wall Street spotlight as investors look for signs that explosive growth is holding up

17H ago

What is the polar vortex and is global warming to blame?

Some scientists think the natural phenomenon bringing brutally cold weather to much of the nation has an unlikely helper

10H ago

Apple FaceTime bug turns your iPhone into hot mic

Apple spokesperson said, "We're aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week"

9H ago

Measles outbreak fuels debate over refusing vaccinations

Measles cases have prompted a health emergency in Washington state

10H ago

How long can a person survive in sub-zero temperatures?

A tragic case in Minnesota highlights the dangers of extremely cold weather

11H ago

Growing measles outbreak in Washington spreading fear among parents

Washington state has declared a public health emergency, with more than 50 places confirmed as a "public exposure location"

22H ago

Lowering blood pressure could cut risk of memory issues, study finds

The study looked at the effect of more intensive blood pressure control and risk of developing mild cognitive impairment

Jan 28

Possible listeria contamination sparks fruit recall

Thousands of pieces of fruit recalled in 18 states because they may be contaminated with harmful bacteria listeria

Jan 28

Super Bowl 2019 tickets will set you back at least $2,720

Tickets to the 2019 Super Bowl​ are still available, assuming you're willing to part with some serious cash

11H ago

Gov't contractors hit by shutdown might never see a paycheck

Many janitors, food service and other lower-paid employees who work in government agencies unlikely to get back pay

11H ago

Apple shares jump as earnings clear lower bar

CEO Tim Cook sees better days: "It's not in our DNA to sit around and wait for macroeconomic conditions to improve"

12H ago

Food-stamp recipients face long wait for their next payment

Food banks brace for surge in traffic as people on federal food assistance try to stretch their benefits

13H ago

Kendall Jenner and top models can be subpoenaed over Fyre Festival

Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski among the models who can be subpoenaed for promoting the failed music festival

13H ago

"Empire" actor assaulted in possible hate crime, police say

The actor told Chicago Police a group of men yelled racial and homophobic slurs and wrapped a rope around his neck

6H ago

Cop rushed into gunbattle because "my guys were down"

Veteran Houston police officer among 4 shot in attempt to serve search warrant at drug house

11H ago

Cop charged in Russian roulette death appears injured in mugshot

Nathaniel Hendren is in custody three days after he was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Katlyn Alix

13H ago

Passenger stabs, kills pregnant Lyft driver in Tempe, Ariz.

Police arrested suspect some 133 miles away after they say he stole her SUV, which they think was the motive for the attack

13H ago

Will El Chapo testify in his own defense?

Defense attorneys have raised the possibility of calling "El Chapo" as a witness

Jan 28