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Blogs by Ambassador Ray

Trafficking in persons a serious concern for all

June 24, 2010
Cover of TIP report (Image: Dept of State)

The U.S. Government takes trafficking in persons seriously

Over the centuries, mankind has inflicted upon fellow humans some of the most unimaginable horrors.  Second perhaps only to genocide, one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated against people has been slavery.  To any civilized person, the idea of treating another human being as a commodity that can be sold to the highest bidder is something hard to contemplate.  Yet, it takes place.

Trafficking in persons is a criminal enterprise that, in terms of the money involved, has grown even faster than drug trafficking.  Each year, an estimated 800,000 men, women, and children are literally forced into bondage.  Many die from mistreatment or outright murder.  Children are deprived of a childhood, and adults are robbed of their human dignity and freedom.  Uncounted thousands are forced into commercial sex, arduous and sometimes unpaid work in factories, mines, farms, and fishing fleets.  Some are forced to be unpaid or underpaid domestic workers.

No country is immune from this scourge.  During the 2005-2006 academic year I served as the U.S. State Department’s Diplomat-in-residence at the University of Houston in Texas.  During that time I worked with a local-state-federal task force dealing with human trafficking in the United States.  After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf coast, for instance, we learned that as many as 3,000 underage girls from the affected states had been trafficked to other states for commercial sex purposes.  As you can see from this example, every country has to cope with this problem.

The U.S. Government takes trafficking in persons seriously, as evidenced by the annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report.  Trafficking is a serious problem, and one that will not be easily dealt with.  It might not be possible to completely eliminate this crime against humanity from the face of the globe, but our goal should be no less than that.

Charles A. Ray, Ambassador
June 24, 2010