Trafficking in persons is the fastest growing criminal industry on the planet. Human traffickers prey on the destitute for slave labor, on children and women prostituted into the sex industry. Today, experts estimate some 12 to 27 million people are enslaved in trafficking situations around the world.
Ten years ago, the United States Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, or TVPA. The law not only provided law enforcement with tools to fight trafficking in persons; it highlighted this crime and its ubiquitous presence. The law required that the Department of State prepare a yearly Trafficking in Persons Report, which soon became a potent tool for fighting this scourge. According to Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, "leaders around the world have credited the Report as a motivating factor for government action."
In those ten years since the TVPA became law, some 130 nations joined the United States in updating their laws to protect victims of trafficking and prosecute those who enslave others in the sex trade, sweat shops or domestic labor, said Ambassador Luis CdeBaca. But in the next decade, nations must work to ensure that anti-trafficking laws are being broadly implemented and enforced, and that they are helping the victims.
"We must also do more to prevent these crimes," said Ambassador CdeBaca. Governments bear responsibility, both sending and receiving countries, as exploitative employers and fraudulent recruiters alike need to be held accountable for their roles in trafficking.
Further, "A new push for corporate accountability is emerging, which demands companies . . . .look at the sources of their human capital and the methods of recruitment tied to their supply chains."
But at the end of the day, the onus is on society to acknowledge the existence of trafficking at the grass-roots level. Each of us must ask: How can we stop contributing to modern slavery? Only then will we be able to make meaningful progress against human trafficking.