The United Nations definition of human trafficking is “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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 the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation". The Asia Pacific region is seen as the most vulnerable region for trafficking because of its huge population pyramid, growing urbanization, and extensive poverty. Trafficking is a violation of human rights. Victims of trafficking suffer from physical and mental abuse and social stigmatization. They become isolated, losing ties with their former lives and families. At the societal level, trafficking undermines development efforts and raises social and health costs. The ongoing abuses of human rights and the growing social and economic inequality within and between countries has led to an environment in which many women have few choices and resources, and are thus vulnerable to being lured, mislead or forced into being trafficked. Women who are most vulnerable to being trafficked are those aged 10-35 and who are impoverished, uneducated or from indigenous, ethnic minority, rural or refugee groups. Such women often lack access to education and meaningful employment opportunities. Harmful cultural and customary practices also perpetuate discriminatory and violent practices that further diminish women's opportunities and lead to further marginalization and commodification. Promoting gender equality through the elimination of gender discrimination and gender-based violence will enhance the dignity and human rights of women and girls and prevent their being trafficked. UNESCAP supports regional cooperation to combat trafficking, reduce undocumented migration and forced labour; support capacity building and economic empowerment of women; and, promote adoption and implementation of international legal instruments.
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