About the Author: Ambassador Luis CdeBaca serves as Director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State.
Today, Secretary Clinton, along with Members of Congress, released the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This report, which is mandated by our anti-trafficking law, analyzes the problem of modern slavery. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service through coercion, often in such areas as prostitution, agricultural work, or domestic service. Some of these people are vulnerable because they’ve migrated to work, but many are enslaved in their own countries.
Moviegoers around the world were shocked the see the forced begging and sexual slavery depicted in the Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. But for too many people – especially women and children – this is their sad reality. The annual TIP report looks at what governments are doing to address this crime, especially their efforts to prevent trafficking, to protect victims, and to prosecute the slaveholders.
This year’s report addresses the theme “Coercion in a Time of Crisis,” because our staff and officers at embassies around the world have seen an increased vulnerability to trafficking as a result of the global economic crisis. When I was working as a federal civil rights prosecutor, I saw that traffickers very often would prey on their victims’ hopes for opportunity and a better life. It is not just intuitive sense that a person who needs to help pay for medicine for their parents or school for their siblings would travel to work, and be vulnerable to exploitation.
The 175 country narratives in this report are the product of our excellent reports staff, the subject-matter experts who study the human trafficking problem in each country in depth. Working closely with partners in the U.S. embassies around the world, the staff includes the input of nongovernmental organizations, press accounts, and information provided by the governments. The photographs that accompany this post illustrate the cost of coercion for so many who seek a better life.
We look forward to hearing your views on human trafficking, and we urge everyone to join us in the fight against modern slavery.