It noted in particular the killing of unborn girls, a case where abortion "is ironically employed by women against women," said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations.
The archbishop addressed the Commission on the Status of Women of the U.N. Social and Economic Council on Friday.
The commission was considering "the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child."
Archbishop Migliore said the Holy See delegation welcomes "the progress made in favor of women over the years and hopes that positive achievements in this field may continue to establish a sane and solid foundation for the future."
However, he said: "It seems incongruous that, at a time when the sensitivity for women's issues appears stronger than ever, the world is now obliged to confront new forms of violence and slavery directed especially at women.
"Women bear the brunt of the world’s child prostitution, sexual exploitation, abuse, domestic violence, child labor and human trafficking. The international sex trade has become an important industry as degrading as almost any mistreatment of women prior to it.
"This trade is often passed over in silence because it is considered a part of supposedly democratic freedoms and is too deeply rooted in places or is too lucrative to confront."
The Vatican official appealed for an examination of "why women and especially younger women are so vulnerable."
He explained that this vulnerability "appears to be due to the inferior status bestowed upon women in certain places and upon female infants in particular. In some local traditions they are thought of as a financial burden and are thus eliminated even before birth. In this way, abortion, often considered a tool of liberation, is ironically employed by women against women."
Archbishop Migliore added: "The trade which results in the exploitation and profit of women forms a driving motive in this equation. No one profits from this except the traffickers themselves and the clients.
"In order to put an end to the violation of human rights of trafficked women and girls, it is not enough to sensationalize their tragic plight; rather there is a need to trace the question back to the market that exists due to the demand which makes such trade possible and profitable."
The archbishop appealed not only for women's rights, but also for appreciation of their particular values.
"The promotion of women will be achieved not only by the legitimate vindication of women's rights," he said. "With that there must also be established a fresh appreciation of authentically feminine values in the heart of our societies."