The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has released its 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, examining the crime of human trafficking around the world.

The majority of the report’s data is compiled from reported cases between 2007 and 2010 across 132 countries.

“Victims are trafficked around the world for sexual exploitation, forced labor, begging, petty crimes, removal of organs and for other exploitative purposes,” read a UNODC press release.

“Trafficking in persons is a truly global phenomenon: Between 2007 and 2010, victims from at least 136 countries were detected in 118 countries worldwide,” it continued. “Because of this diffusion as well as the hidden nature of trafficking crimes, it is difficult to estimate the size of the problem.”

The report found that women made up the majority of trafficking victims, accounting for between 55 and 60 percent of all cases, varying from year to year.

“Even though women comprise the majority of trafficking victims globally, their share of the total decreased somewhat during the reporting period,” the report reads. “Over the period 2003 to 2006, more than two in three detected victims were women.”

The report points out, however, that the proportion of trafficked girls over the most recent reporting period (15 to 20 percent) increased from the last one (13 percent), leaving the total number of trafficked females relatively unchanged.

Men made up 14 to 18 percent of trafficking victims and boys accounted for 8 to 10 percent. Children accounted for 27 percent of the reported cases, up from 20 percent in the previous period.

The gender and age of trafficking victims varied widely from region to region. For example, children accounted for 68 percent of all cases in Africa and the Middle East compared to 18 percent in Europe and Central Asia.

The majority of cases involved trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation (48 percent) with forced labor (36 percent) forming the bulk of the remaining cases.

The report emphasizes that the data is limited as it is based on the figures provided by individual countries, and  improved monitoring is needed to provide a more accurate reflection of human trafficking.