On June 16, the U.S.
Department of State released the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report. The
report, which this year looks at conditions in 175 countries, is a global
snapshot of the problem of modern-day slavery. Consistent with the United
Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
American law defines human trafficking as inducing a commercial sex act or
obtaining or maintaining the labor or services of another through force, fraud,
or coercion, for the purpose of placing that person into involuntary servitude,
peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. The International Labor Organization
estimates that at any given time, 12.3 million adults and children are in
forced servitude worldwide. Of these, 1.39 million are victims of sexual
servitude. Globally, 56 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls.
The impact of human trafficking is devastating. Victims often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, and even death. But the devastation also extends beyond individual victims; human trafficking is a crime that deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, increases global health risks, fuels growing networks of organized crime, and can sustain levels of poverty and impede development in certain areas.
In a speech introducing this year's report, Secretary of State Clinton said that the Obama Administration views the fight against human trafficking as a critical part of our foreign policy agenda:
" With this report, we hope to shine the light brightly on the scope and scale of modern slavery so all governments can see where progress has been made and where more is needed. Trafficking thrives in the shadows, and it can be easy to dismiss it as something that happens to someone else, somewhere else. But that's not the case. Trafficking is a crime that involves every nation on earth, and that includes our own."
"Bringing an end to the global trade in people is a priority for the United States in keeping with American values that place a premium on human rights, democracy, and the rule of law," said Secretary of State Clinton in a letter prefacing the 2009 Report. "I am confident that together we can make a difference, all over the world, in the lives of people deprived of their freedom."