Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools


Last edited: January 25, 2011

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The focus of this section is on the trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation, otherwise known as sex trafficking. The authors recognize that sex trafficking may and often does overlap with other forms of human trafficking. For example, an individual may initially be trafficked into forced labor as a domestic worker or caregiver, but later sold into prostitution. However, the guidance in this section will focus on the development of legislation to specifically address the trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed the first Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery in 2008, pursuant to resolution 6/14. As listed on the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery’s website, the mandate on contemporary forms of slavery includes, but is not limited to:

  • Debt bondage
  • Forced labor
  • Child slavery
  • Sexual slavery
  • Forced or early marriages
  • The sale of wives

The mandate further instructs the Special Rapporteur to coordinate efforts with the existing human rights mechanisms and treaty bodies, specifically the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; and the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children. (See: Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights) 

See: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Combating Trafficking In Persons: A Handbook for Parliamentarians, 18, 2009; available in English and French.

See: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons, 2006.

Various groups have attempted to quantify the numbers of individuals exploited in human trafficking. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that, at any given time, there are 20.9 million adults and children in forced labor. Of these victims, 4.5 million are estimated to be victims of forced sexual exploitation. This data suggests that trafficking for forced labor is more prevalent than trafficking for sexual exploitation. At the same time, the ILO further estimates that 55 percent, or 11.4 million, of all forced labor victims are women and girls.

This 2012 estimate, of 20.9 million victims globally, is considerably higher than ILO’s previous estimate given in 2005 of 12.3 million individuals; the ILO cites the increase as a result of a new and more rigorous methodology, as well as improved data sources. (See: ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour 2012: Results and Methodology, International Labor Organization, 2012)