Cyber Trafficking and Mail-order Brides

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Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, October 5 2012

  • Nadja Schuster & Alexandra Toth | VIDC – Wiener Institut

Trafficking in Human Beings (THB) is a global human rights crisis. The majority of the victims are women, young girls and children, who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. But also men and young boys are “traded”, mostly for labor exploitation. Since new communication and information technologies have been utilized by traffickers, the ways in which human beings are recruited are changing rapidly and constantly.

New opportunities for trafficers

Chatrooms, online job exchanges, model agencies, escort services but also social networks are used for online recruitment of victims. Very fast, nearly anonymously and not costly men, women and children – but also porn movies, sex-tapes and erotic/racist images of trafficked persons – can be advertised and sold through the World Wide Web. The internet represents an unregulated area and a very lucrative marketplace for traffickers and those involved in the sex industry because the predominant form of THB through cyberspace is “sex trafficking”.

Mail-order brides

Alongside this development the “mail-order bride” industry is expanding and links to human trafficking and forms of sexual exploitation of women and girls are indicated. Marriage agencies that are advertising information about mail-order brides and promoting direct contact to them have moved from paper catalogues to online catalogues and websites. Very often “mail-order bride websites” include sexual images of the “future wifes” and hyperlinks to websites with sexual or racist content. There are no figures available but a number of researchers assume that several brides are trafficked and suffer from sexual and/or labor exploitation.

Root causes and development of prevention measures

Within the field of THB the VIDC is predominantly interested in the root causes of THB, the development of adequate prevention and sensibilization measures as well in the exploration of new trends and developments such as Cyber Trafficking.



Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation.


1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this posting. This event was excellent, because of the quality of speakers! We are working on the internet / human trafficking connections and welcome your input on our Google AdWords project. More info at:

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