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Iran And Human Trafficking

The U.S. State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons report ranks nations according to efforts to combat what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls "this modern-day form of slavery":

"We estimate that up to eight-hundred thousand people, primarily women and children, are victimized each year, forced into lives of cruel and punishing degradation."

Iran is one of a dozen countries given the poorest rating. The others are Syria, Burma, Belize, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The State Department report says Iran is "a source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude." Women and children in Iran are also trafficked internally for the same purposes.

Ambassador John Miller is director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. He says that Iran was given the lowest rating in part because the government of Iran has a record of punishing the victims of trafficking instead of helping them:

"We have received a number of reports that Iran imprisons or executes a significant number of trafficking victims. And one of the criteria in the law is protection of victims and the law specifically says victims should not be punished for acts they commit after they've been trafficked, whether it's prostitution or anything else."

The State Department report cites the case of one sixteen-year-old Iranian sex trafficking victim who was hanged after being accused of "engaging in acts incompatible with chastity." The report also cites the Iranian government's failure to act against members of Iran's security forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who were arrested for trafficking in children.

The United States is calling on the government of Iran "to punish traffickers and assign strict penalties for their actions." It is also urging Iran to "take significant steps to prevent the punishment of trafficking victims and. . . .improve the protective services available to victims."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.