Coercion in a Time of Crisis

Posted by Luis CdeBaca
June 16, 2009
Trafficking in Persons 2009 Report Photo: Man Peers Through Fence

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.

Comments

Comments

Louis
|
Brazil
June 16, 2009

Louis in Brazil writes:

When it comes to the enslavement of persons. I would like to request that the state department take a real look at the country of Brasil. Even though things are improving, they are not improving fast enough for the people of Brasil. If you go past the fancy streets and the luxury hotels to the inner cities you will find that Brasil enslaves the majority of its citizens. They dont need to traffic they live in slavery...The U.S. China and India are now supporting this enslavement as Brail appears to be becoming a first world country. There is no difference between the work force of Brasil and the work and labor practices of Columbia. If you do not think doing business with Columbia is good why do business with Brasil...???

Masood
|
California, USA
June 16, 2009

Masood in California writes:

India should take concrete steps against forced begging and sexual slavery. India could spend billion of dollars on defense but at home people are suffering in slums all over.

Ron
|
New York, USA
June 17, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Human-Sales: A Growth Industry

Human Trafficking represents the failure of governments to provide economic and political security for its people. Corrupt government officials collude with organized crime in the sale of persons; when they should be creatingmpathways to secure futures for the people. Human Trafficking is a growth industry, because people have become commodities in a globalized and privatized world.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
June 17, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

I applaud Ambassador Luis CdeBaca's efforts. Are we making any inroads with this heinous practice? I am also interested to know if we are making any progress with North Korea on releasing the 2 journalists they are holding? Is China "helping" us with this? I would like to think so, but I doubt it. I noted in a news article this week that China, Russia, Brazil and our "ally" India have joined together to minimize the U.S.'s influence around the world. Is anyone surprised? I know I am not.

Zharkov
|
United States
June 17, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

A problem with the federal government is that it responds to stories in movies, t.v. station editorials, articles in magazines, and other media, but often not to individual citizens.

When 60 minutes does a segment on white slavery in Romania, we see immediate government reaction, but when 2 million citizens protest in Tea Parties around the country, we get a yawn from bureaucrats in D.C.

There are some things governments cannot do much about, and one of them is the right of one person to sell their services to another person.

In foreign countries that seem to lack legal standards on that subject, such as Saudi Arabia, we see news stories of people held against their will in arab lands. We speak of slavery when it involves Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia and avoid the subject when we meet with Saudi royalty.

If a nation really wanted to eliminate slavery, it could help victims to sue the people who held them captive, and make it a crime to hold another person for service.

If the U.S. thought slavery was so wrong, why do we allow leaders of those nations notorious for ignoring slavery to vacation in the U.S. and make speeches at the U.N.?

Ron
|
New York, USA
June 21, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Snapshots of Slavery:

Both from Bangkok:

1st: Passing a young crippled beggar-boy on top of a street overpass (Sukhamvit Road?) and later learning that children are deliberately maimed and put out as beggars for criminal groups.

2nd: Taking a cab from Hotel and being shown a scrapbook of children available for sex.

What's the answer?.....Rule-of-Law, Enforcement, Security, Education, Development, Incentives, disincentives... Monetary Penalties and prison. (Human Trafficking/Slavery is first and foremost, a business).

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