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U.S. Secretary of State Clinton chairs annual meeting on human trafficking

On February 3, 2010 Secretary of State Clinton chaired The Annual Meeting of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Dubbed ‘a modern form of slavery’ by all who reference human trafficking, it is an international problem that reaches all corners of the globe. New York State is no exception.

According to the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking in 2008, New York was only outranked by three states (California, Florida, and Texas) in terms of quantifiable human trafficking in the United States. Human trafficking can range from forced and coerced labor to commercial sexual exploitation. It is not uncommon for young girls and women to be promised jobs such as dancing, housekeeping, and nanny services by alluring traffickers.

Once they arrive at the intended destination, the victims are often forced into sexually exploitative services in pseudo massage parlors, men’s adult clubs, etc. The International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency, estimates that 56% of all forced labor victims are women and girls. Many poverty-stricken nations and regions are frequent human trafficking origins where girls may be valued as a sellable commodity for parents in financial despair.

While the exportation of victims does not have to cross international borders, the frequency of transnational trafficking is higher than intrastate trafficking. This aids the traffickers’ anonymity and elusiveness. The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services asserts that ‘Human trafficking is difficult to detect…and the means used by traffickers are many times subtle’.

Vast networks of organized traffickers facilitate the movement of millions of victims every year. In order to combat this multi-billion dollar international industry, the United States along with many other nations has passed laws such as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Not only does TVPA provide services for trafficking victims such as reintegration and housing aid, it also provides penalty and punishment guidelines for offenders.

Secretary Clinton highlighted the above points at the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, emphasizing the burgeoning of the trafficking industry as a sign that constant and updated efforts must continue across state and international borders. It is only when best practices regarding human trafficking prevention and penalty are adopted by all nations, public awareness is raised, and the collaborated effort of security and law enforcement agencies is truly global that we may see the number of victims decrease.

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