Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today said human trafficking fuels epidemic of gender-based violence worldwide.
On the Release of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, Ms. Clinton thanked Under Secretary Maria Otero for her leadership of the global, transnational, cross-cutting issues that she is responsible for.
Ms. Clinton said human trafficking unfortunately hurts women and girls disproportionately.
“And I know it’s not just our State Department and not just our Congress, but many of you in this room, many of you from other governments who have taken on this issue, many of you from the NGO community that have been on the frontlines standing up for millions of victims.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton has visited a place of healing and support, a shelter for survivors in Cambodia. She said she met with dozens of girls, most of them very young, who had been sexually exploited and abused. She said the girls had been given refuge at the shelter and they were learning valuable skills to help them reenter society.
“These girls wanted the same thing that every child wants – the opportunity to live, to learn, a safe place, people who cared about them. And not too long ago, a shelter like this would not have been available. The idea of trafficking in persons was as old as time.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton stressed that trafficking wasn’t particularly high on the list of important international issues. She added that every year, the Americans come together to release the report, to take stock of its progress, to make suggestions, and to refine its methods.
“Today, we are releasing a new report that ranks 184 countries, including our own. One of the innovations when I became Secretary was we were going to also analyze and rank ourselves, because I don’t think it’s fair for us to rank others if we don’t look hard at who we are and what we’re doing.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton stated further that the report is the product of a collaborative process that involves ambassadors and embassies and NGOs as well as the team in Washington.
“And it really does give us a snapshot about what’s happening. It shows us where political will and political leadership are making a difference.” -Ms. Clinton
She noted the case of Bangladesh. She said the minister of home affairs and joint secretary have drafted progressive legislation that promises to confront the traffickers behind thousands of Bangladeshi migrants to the Middle East and North Africa.
Ms. Clinton mentioned United Arab Emirates, where leaders are advancing initiatives to improve protections for migrant workers in the Gulf region.
She pointed out that because of the ease of transportation and the global communications that can reach deep into villages with promises and pictures of what a better life might be, more human beings are exploited than before. She noted there are as many as 27 million men, women, and children.
Ms. Clinton urged governments to take important steps and commitments with actions in order to get results to counter modern-day slavery.