Trafficking in persons, or human trafficking, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “is an affront to human rights; it’s an affront to human dignity... We know it’s destabilizing to societies and to economies. So we must do everything we can as a country, but also as a global community, to stop trafficking wherever it occurs.”
The International Labor Organization estimates that nearly 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. The United States recognizes two forms of trafficking in persons: forced labor and sex trafficking. Many are compelled into commercial sex work. Many are forced to work in factories, mines, or fields, or to join armed groups.
On July 1, the U.S. State Department issued its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, the world’s most comprehensive resource that objectively assesses government anti-trafficking efforts – including in the United States -- around the globe. “Traffickers are constantly adapting their methods, and every country, including the United States, must keep adapting our own strategies to stay ahead of them.” Take the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on trafficking.
"Human traffickers seized the opportunity to grow their operations. People who were pushed into dire economic circumstances by the pandemic became more vulnerable to exploitation. And as more people spent hours online for school and work, traffickers used the internet to groom and recruit potential victims.”
This year, said Secretary Blinken, the report also focuses on state-sponsored human trafficking.
“ We documented 11 countries where the government itself is the trafficker – for example, through forced labor on public work projects or in sectors of the economy that the government feels are particularly important.”
Finally, “The report explicitly acknowledges the connection between systemic inequality and human trafficking. This is something many countries need to grapple with, including the United States.” That’s because traffickers prey on marginalized communities, individuals unlikely to report abuses, or those who are less likely to be believed when they report that they’re being targeted or abused.
"If we’re serious about ending trafficking in persons, we must also work to root out systemic racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, and to build a more equitable society in every dimension.”
“The most urgent challenges facing our world cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. … We need to work together, share information, and hold each other accountable. That’s how we’ll create a world where no one is exploited by trafficking and everyone is able to live in safety and in dignity.”