In a special presidential initiative, the U.S. is spending fifty-million dollars to fight human trafficking in 2004. These funds are in addition to more than sixty-million dollars the U.S. has already committed to anti-trafficking efforts around the world this year. The extra funds are being used to support programs in Brazil, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Moldova, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania.
Around the world, between six-hundred thousand and eight-hundred-thousand people are estimated to be trafficked across international borders each year. Experts say eighty percent of victims are women and girls. More than half are forced into sexual servitude, others into forced labor. The United Nations says that the trafficking of human beings is now the third largest source of money for organized crime, after weapons and drugs.
President George W. Bush says that countries that fail to act against human trafficking face possible sanctions from the U.S., the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund:
“Last year, after the Department of State released its 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report, ten nations avoided sanctions by moving quickly to pass new anti-trafficking legislation, to train police officers. They launched domestic information campaigns, and established victim protection programs.”
Trafficking is a serious problem, says President Bush, and “We need to do something about it”:
“Last year at the United Nations, I called on other governments to pass laws making such abuse a crime -- and many have risen to the challenge. In the past year, twenty-four nations have enacted new laws to combat trade in human lives. Thirty-two are now in the process of drafting or passing such laws. As a result of these efforts, this year nearly eight-thousand traffickers were prosecuted worldwide. Two-thousand-eight-hundred have been convicted.”
The message is getting out about human trafficking. “We’re serious,” says President Bush.