Human trafficking is a bipartisan concern in foreign policy for the United States. In fact, the year that began with a presidential transition also started with National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month, which the U. S. has been observing by presidential proclamations for the past 11 years.
The State Department made that announcement on Inauguration Day. Indeed, incoming Secretary of State Antony Blinken dated U. S. policy on human trafficking back to the Lincoln years. “More than 150 years after President Lincoln’s promise of freedom, an estimated 24.9 million individuals around the world are exploited by human traffickers,” Secretary Blinken stated when he designated February 1, 2021 as National Freedom Day.
For example, the State Department Trafficking in Persons, or TIP report lists a number of countries which conscript children to serve as soldiers, including Afghanistan, Burma, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and Iraq. Of course, the report also shows the degree to which human traffickers also engage in sexual exploitation.
For instance, according to the TIP report, in Cuba, “The government did not criminalize all forms of forced labor or sex trafficking.” In Iran, “During the reporting period, there continued to be a government policy or pattern of recruiting and using child soldiers, and a pattern of government officials perpetrating sex trafficking of adults and children with impunity.”
“More than 20 years ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, or TVPA of [the year] 2000 enshrined the United States’ commitment to combating modern slavery domestically and internationally,” according to the State Department. “With this bipartisan law, the United States reaffirmed the fundamental promise of ‘forever free’ enshrined within the Emancipation Proclamation.”