It is by definition difficult to estimate the scale of trafficking – but some experts have produced figures on the basis of what is known about existing routes, prices charged by traffickers, and the numbers of those caught.
Thus the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimated in 1994 that it was a global business worth around $5-7 billion per year, although seven years on it is likely to be far higher. The UN recently concluded that this sum was being made annually from the trafficking of prostitutes alone.
Those trafficked may pay anything between $2,000 and $40,000 or more, depending on the country of destination and route. The numbers involved are also difficult to calculate – IOM has recently estimated that 700,000 women and children move this way each year. Others believe it may be up to two million per annum. According to European officials, around half a million of these head for Europe.