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This weekend marks International Women’s Day, a time for celebrating the best of women and for contemplating the impediments to the lives of women around the world.

As I searched for material for the post I stumbled across the following update on a story that has flickered in and out of the world news for the past few years, yet has attracted relatively little sustained attention.lupita-perez-montes

This is staggering, for it continues unabated with the recent disappearance of 17-year-old Lupita Perez Montes on 31 January, 2009, as she rushed through downtown Juarez to catch the bus home from high school.

The Mexican town of Ciudad Juarez currently holds a record of fatalities and missing persons that would render Naples capital of order: since January 2008 almost 2,000 people have died as a result of drug warfare.

Amidst the chaos, young women have been disappearing with at least 347 reported missing since last year.

In the past decade 400 women have been murdered, with 100 exhibiting signs of torture, rape and mutilation.

Yet while previous cases indicated murder, the current spate of disappearances is pointing to traffickers.

Trafficking has become a contemporary scourge on society and an overview of the figures attests to its magnitude.

According to the United Nations, each year approximately 2 million women fall victim to traffickers.

If the count includes those forced into domestic labour, then the figure could rise to 4 million per annum.

At present, there are around 30 million victims of modern day slavery, while 80% are women, and over 50% children.

For many women the opportunity of ‘work’ in other countries exerts an allure; sadly, the ‘work’ never materialises and instead they are cast into a world of physical, psychological and sexual abuse and economic deprivation.

For the traffickers, the act is driven by pure financial avarice: human traffiicking nets almost $9.5 billion per year, second only to drug trafficking in global crime.

The chilling reality is that the results of trafficking are all around us, and yet we are oblivious: shops that we think are innocuous are mere fronts; downcast women on public transport appear as just that.

It is a diabolical, clandestine atrocity that can occur anywhere and to anyone, rendering it one of the hardest crimes to prevent.

To find out more about the issue of trafficking, visit Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Trafficking.