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The text of the Rome Statute does not explicitly define sexual enslavement, but does define enslavement as "the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children" (Article 7.2.c).

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Sexual slavery is slavery for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Sexual slavery may involve single-owner sexual slavery; ritual slavery, sometimes associated with certain religious practices, such as ritual servitude in Ghana, Togo and Benin; slavery for primarily non-sexual purposes but where non-consensual sexual activity is common; or forced prostitution.

Concubinage was a traditional form of sexual slavery in many cultures, in which women spent their lives in sexual servitude.

In some cultures, concubines and their children had distinct rights and legitimate social position.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action calls for an international effort to eradicate sexual slavery as an abuse of human rights.

The incidence of sexual slavery by country has been studied and tabulated by UNESCO, with the cooperation of various international agencies.The Rome Statute (1998) (that defines the crimes over which the International Criminal Court may have jurisdiction) encompass crimes against humanity (Article 7) which includes "enslavement" (Article 7.1.c) and "sexual enslavement" (Article 7.1.g) "when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population".It also defines sexual enslavement as a war crime and a breach of the Geneva Conventions when committed during an international armed conflict (Article 8.b.xxii) and indirectly in an internal armed conflict under Article(8.c.ii), but the courts jurisdiction over war crimes is explicitly excluded from including crimes committed during "situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature" (Article 8.d).Sex trafficking is a type of human trafficking involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbour or receipt of people, by coercive or abusive means for the purpose of sexual exploitation.Sex trafficking is not the only form of human trafficking and estimates vary as to the percentage of human trafficking which is for the purpose of transporting someone into sexual slavery.The BBC News cited a report by UNODC as listing the most common destinations for victims of human trafficking in 2007 as Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the US.

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