State Department releases 2012 report on human trafficking & slavery

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday called on the global community to step up efforts to combat human trafficking and to help eradicate slavery worldwide. 

The State Department’s 2012 Trafficking in Person’s Report estimated that there are still 27 million men, women, and children enslaved around the world – including in the United States, where slavery was abolished 150 years ago.

“The end of legal slavery in the United States and in other countries around the world has not, unfortunately, meant the end of slavery,” Clinton said. “This report reminds us of the human cost of this crime. Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life. And our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it’s getting a good job to send money home to support a family, trying to get an education for oneself or one’s children, or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life.”

Lured by the promise of a good-paying job and the prospect of a better life, victims of human trafficking instead find themselves trapped in a life of prostitution, sexual slavery, forced labor, domestic servitude, and even armed combat – often in a foreign land where they have little or no legal recourse against their captors and little or no hope of escape.

These modern-day slaves endure horrendous physical and sexual abuse, brutal working conditions, and threats against their families if they attempt to escape from captivity. In certain parts of the world, children are even forced to take up arms or serve as human shields in wars waged between government and rebel forces.

Human traffickers often subjugate their victims by confiscating passports and travel documents, restricting access to food, forcing victims to work for long hours with little or no time for rest, and charging large fees to ensure the victims’ perpetual debt bondage.

According to a 2012 estimate by the International Labor Organization, women and young girls make up 55% of forced labor victims and 98% of sex trafficking victims around the world.

The ILO estimated that there are 11.7 million persons in forced labors in Asia, 3.7 million in Africa, 1.8 million in Central and South America, 1.6 million in Central and Eastern Europe, 600,000 in the Middle East, and 1.5 million in the United States, Canada, and countries in the European Union. The number has increased by 70% compared to the ILO’s estimate in 2005.

In the United States, thousands of victims smuggled from Thailand, India, Mexico, Philippines, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, and other countries are forced to work in sweat shops or as domestic servants and prostitutes.

Here are few of the non-governmental organizations recognized by the State Department this year for their work in combatting human trafficking: 

Countries that recruit and use child soldiers in armed conflicts: 

  • Burma
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Libya
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Yemen

SOURCE: U.S. Department of State

Countries that may face U.S. sanctions for refusing to comply with international laws against human trafficking:  

  • Algeria
  • Central Africa Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe
  • Somalia

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