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Sex Trafficking

What is sex trafficking?

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery in which someone coerces or deceives another person into commercial sexual exploitation for profit. Any child sold for sex is considered a victim of sex trafficking by nature of their age. Simply put, sex trafficking makes a business out of sexual violence. It thrives when law enforcement cannot or does not protect vulnerable children and women.

Where does IJM work to combat sex trafficking?

IJM works to combat sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in Romania, the Dominican Republic, South Asia and the Philippines.

Spotlight on IJM's work in Romania to combat cross-border trafficking

In 2019, IJM launched its first anti-trafficking program in Eastern and Central Europe, in Romania. Read the Press Release about the launch.

Romania has a deep and beautiful culture, but with its porous borders into Central and Western Europe, Romania is a known country for human trafficking crimes. Vulnerable Romanians are exploited in both labour and sex trafficking. These crimes are committed within Romania itself and across borders into other European countries. Romania is the source country of 44% of all sex trafficking-related prosecutions at the EU level (European Commission, 2018) yet in 2018, the government reported that only 48% of confirmed trafficking victims in Romania received assistance (US Trafficking in Persons Report, 2019).

IJM is working alongside government, police and communities in the UK and Romania to end impunity for cross border trafficking.

It aims to do this by building a cohesive and responsive regional network of law enforcement agencies and partner organizations to facilitate proactive cooperation on investigations, prosecutions, and survivor care.

Recent stories of impact

Justice for eight children who were trafficked for sex
Eight children trafficked for sex in South Asia have received justice. 21 men have been convicted for paying to exploit children, in a significant le...
Trafficker sentenced to 7 years in prison
Two survivors of sex trafficking in Mumbai received justice after a trafficker was convicted for exploiting women and girls.

Survivor Stories


“Blaming poverty for crimes like this is convenient—it seems to make trafficking a problem beyond our control. But I strongly believe that poverty is just one of the factors that makes people vulnerable to being trafficked, and that trafficking still exists because an effective public justice system doesn’t in my country.”



Make a difference through a donation. When you give to IJM, you are helping support IJM's global teams to combat trafficking, slavery and violence against people in poverty.

Understand more about Sex Trafficking

How does sex trafficking happen?

The vast majority of victims of sex trafficking come from backgrounds of poverty. Impoverished women and girls are especially susceptible to traffickers' schemes of deception. Because of their desperate economic situation, they (or their parents or caretakers) are more willing to take risks—so they are more likely to accept fraudulent job offers or insincere marriage proposals from traffickers, to move to another location or migrate to another country, or to believe other deceptive techniques criminals use to entrap people.

Before the internet, customers had to physically go to a bar or brothel to purchase sex. In the Philippines, most customers were opportunistic predators seeking out young women or teenagers. Now, with the rise of Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, sex offenders and abusers located anywhere in the world can use the internet to exploit children without ever leaving their bedroom.

Once trafficked, victims find themselves facing violence as a constant threat. In addition to serial rape, children and adults forced into the commercial sex trade are particularly vulnerable to physical assault from traffickers, owners, recruiters and customers.

Though sex trafficking is a worldwide phenomenon, it is most pervasive in countries with weak justice systems, where perpetrators know they are unlikely to face any significant consequences for profiting from repeated sexual assault.

However, because the crime is an economic one, traffickers and others who profit from the sexual exploitation of children are particularly sensitive to law enforcement action. When the likelihood of serving serious jail time and paying significant financial damages increases, the potential financial rewards are no longer worth the high risk, and traffickers change their behaviour.

Where does IJM work to stop sex trafficking?

IJM works to combat sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation in Romania, the Dominican Republic, South Asia and the Philippines.

How does IJM stop trafficking?



We identify children and adults forced into commercial sexual exploitation, support professional law enforcement snd police operations and ensure that all people, including non-trafficked individuals who may be present, are treated with dignity during the operation.


We partner with local authorities to help build strong cases against traffickers, sex offenders and other perpetrators and support their prosecution.


We create individual treatment plans for each survivor, partner with excellent local aftercare homes, provide trauma-informed counselling and support access to school and vocational opportunities.


We provide training and mentoring to law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and other professionals, and advocate for improvements to the justice system that will ensure cases are heard and survivors are protected.

Online sexual exploitation of children

Online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) is also on the rise as internet access increases everywhere. Now, sex offenders anywhere in the world can direct live sexual abuse of boys and girls hidden in private homes or internet cafes.
You Can Help Send Rescue Today.

When you give a gift today, you’ll be fighting slavery, violence, and injustice across the globe. Together, we can end slavery and violence in our lifetime.

You can make the most impact as a Freedom Partner today.

Your generous monthly support will help send rescue to vulnerable children and families at a moment’s notice, stand with them as they rebuild their lives in freedom and have perpetrators held accountable.


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