Collaboration in Civic Spheres

U.S. State Department: 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report

by Matt Rosenberg June 14th, 2010

BACKGROUND: Ten years ago the United Nations negotiated international standards to help identify and combat trafficking in persons. This term applies to practices such as forced labor, bonded labor and forced prostitution. At the time, the United States adopted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, under which the annual Trafficking In Persons global report is issued annually to raise awareness of and encourage global action against modern-day slavery.

KEY LINK: 2010 “Trafficking In Persons Report,” U.S. Department of State, June 14, 2010.

SELECTED KEY FINDINGS:

1) There are 12.3 million adults and children around the world in forced labor, bonded labor or forced prostitution. Traffickers do an annual trade of $32 billion. There were 4,166 successful trafficking prosecutions in 2009, the highest number since tracking began in 2004.

2) The report ranks 177 nations in several “tiers” by their efforts to combat human trafficking based on criteria including legal deterrents, vigorous prosecution and criminal penalties; implementation of prevention strategies; provision of victim services, and safe and humane repatriation; and collaboration with non-governmental organizations. The lowest ranked (or “Tier Three”) countries are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Mauritania, Papau New Guinea and the Dominican Republic. Tier Three countries are subject to sanctions such as the withholding of certain types of U.S. foreign aid, and U.S. lobbying against certain types of aid to them from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Another 48 countries – spread across Africa, the East Asia-Pacific region, South and Central Asia, the Near East, Europe and Central America – fall into the second lowest rank (“Tier Two Watch List”).

3) One of several “troubling governmental practices” identified in the report is “lack of education available to women, girls, and other populations, which blocks them from mainstream economic advancement and leaves them vulnerable to trafficking.”

4) The report also urges increased vigilance in purchasing decisions by consumers and governments. “…it is impossible to get dressed, drive to work, talk on the phone, or eat a meal without touching products tainted by forced labor….Consumer spending and corporate investment in business are leverage points that can turn around a system that has for too long allowed traffickers and economies to operate with impunity….A new paradigm of corporate accountability is emerging demanding companies cast their attentions beyond the places where their products are produced or processed – such as apparel factories and seafood processing shops – to places where the raw materials are collected, harvested, or mined.”

Many additional details and coverage of special topic reports are in the report. Sections reporting on activity in each country can be directly accessed from alphabetical “country narratives” found in the hyper-linked table of contents at the “start” page of the report. A video featuring Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and other State Department officials discussing the new report is also provided.

VICTIMS’ STORIES:

The report includes many examples of trafficking in persons. Here are several.

“Vipul was born into extreme poverty in a village in Bihar, the poorest state in India. His mother was desperate to keep him and his five brothers from starving, so she accepted $15 as an advance from a local trafficker, who promised more money once 9-year-old Vipul started working many miles away in a carpet factory. The loom owner treated Vipul like any other low-value industrial tool. He forced Vipul and the other slaves to work for 19 hours a day, never allowed them to leave the loom, and beat them savagely when they made a mistake in the intricate designs of the rugs, which were sold in Western markets. The work itself tore into Vipul’s small hands, and when he cried in pain, the owner stuck Vipul’s finger in boiling oil to cauterize the wound and then told him to keep working. After five years, local police, with the help of NGO activists, freed Vipul and nine other emaciated boys.”

“Cindy was a poor girl in rural China when a neighbor and her husband offered to give her work at a restaurant their friends opened in Africa. Cindy dropped out of school and went with the couple to Ghana, only to fall victim to a Chinese sex trafficking ring. She was taken to live in a brothel with other Chinese women, and her passport and return tickets were confiscated. Her traffickers forced her to engage in commercial sex and beat her when she refused. They made her peruse casinos to attract white men. The traffickers took Cindy’s money, telling her she had to repay them for her travel and accommodation costs. A Ghanaian investigative journalist exposed the ring, and the traffickers were prosecuted in a Ghanaian court. With NGO assistance, Cindy and the other women returned to China and are trying to rebuild their lives.”

“At 17, Khansee left his village in southern Laos to find work…He had very little education, could barely read or write, and was supporting his mother and grandmother. Another young man told Khansee he could earn $170 a month working at a garment factory in Thailand. Khansee trusted him because he was a fellow Lao, but he never made it to the garment factory. They crossed the river at night and boarded a van that took them to the coast of Thailand. When Khansee stepped out of the van, he was immediately led onto a fishing trawler under the watchful eyes of men armed with guns. For two years, Khansee worked day and night, heaving nets of fish without a rest or break. He ate and slept little on a crowded deck with 40 other men. He was beaten on a regular basis. Once, Khansee watched his traffickers beat a fellow worker until the man was unconscious. After two years of forced servitude, Khansee managed to escape when the boat was docked. He ran for days through the jungle, until he reached the home of a woman who took him in, fed him, and gave him money for a taxi to the Lao Embassy in Bangkok. With NGO and embassy assistance, Khansee made it back to his village alive.”

“Salima was recruited in Kenya to work as a maid in Saudi Arabia. She was promised enough money to support herself and her two children. But when she arrived in Jeddah, she was forced to work 22 hours a day, cleaning 16 rooms daily for several months. She was never let out of the house and was given food only when her employers had leftovers. When there were no leftovers, Salima turned to dog food for sustenance. She suffered verbal and sexual abuse from her employers and their children. One day while Salima was hanging clothes on the line, her employer pushed her out the window, telling her, “You are better off dead.” Salima plunged into a swimming pool three floors down and was rescued by police. After a week in the hospital, she was deported. She returned to Kenya with broken legs and hands.”

“Katya, a student athlete in an Eastern European capital city, dreamed of learning English and visiting the United States. Her opportunity came in the form of a student visa program…But when she got to America, rather than being taken to a job at a beach resort, the people who met her put her on a bus to Detroit, Michigan. They took her passport away, and forced her and her friends to dance in strip clubs for the traffickers’ profit. They controlled the girls’ movement and travel, kept keys to the girls’ apartment, and listened in on phone calls the girls made to their parents. After a year of enslavement, Katya and her friend were able to reach federal authorities with the help of a patron of the strip club in whom they had confided. Due to their bravery, six other victims were identified and rescued. Katya now has immigration status under the U.S. trafficking law. She works in a health club and hopes to finish her degree in kinesiology. The traffickers are in federal prison.”

“A recruiter in Jamaica promised Sheldon a visa through the U.S….seasonal worker program. The processing fee was hefty, but…working in America seemed worth it. Sheldon arrived in Kansas City eager to work, but…ended up at the mercy of human traffickers. Along with other workers from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines, Sheldon cleaned rooms at some of the best-known hotels in Kansas City. The traffickers kept Sheldon in debt, constantly charging him…for uniforms, transportation, and rent in overcrowded apartments. Often, his paychecks would show negative earnings. When Sheldon refused to work, the traffickers threatened to cancel his immigration status, and which would render him illegal in an instant. In May 2009, a federal grand jury indicted the leaders of this trafficking ring – including eight nationals of Uzbekistan – on charges related to forced labor in 14 states.”

ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TO HELP COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Global Fund for Women
iAbolish: American Anti-Slavery Group
Prevent Human Trafficking
Not For Sale Campaign
End Human Trafficking

MORE INFORMATION ON INTERNATIONAL FAIR LABOR PRACTICES

International Labor Rights Forum

2 Responses to “U.S. State Department: 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report”

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  2. [...] Matt Rosenberg пишет: “Salima was recruited in Kenya to work as a maid in Saudi Arabia. She was promised enough money to support herself and her two children. But when she arrived in Jeddah, she was forced to work 22 hours a day, cleaning 16 rooms daily for … [...]