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When determining how countries rank, the U.S. government looks at a variety of forms of human trafficking. Those that affect adults: forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude; and those that affect children: forced child labor, child soldiers, child sex trafficking. They look not only at the laws that each government has passed, but also how those laws are being enforced.
The TIP Report has been issued every year for the last fifteen years. In 2010, the U.S. was included in the rankings for the very first time. This only makes sense – why should we judge what other countries are doing if we aren’t willing to take a hard look at what we are doing in our own neighborhoods?
This year’s report shared some grim statistics. In her remarks on the release of the report, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, shared that that there are more people being exploited than ever before. The most recent estimates are that 27 million men, women, and children worldwide are victims of human trafficking. There are stories upon stories of people who have been caught up in this modern day slave trade.
Only 32 countries were ranked Tier 1, meaning not that it has no problem human trafficking, but that it has acknowledged the problem and is working to address it. That’s less than 2%!
Most countries fall squarely in the Tier 2 category, with 40 of them being on a “Watch List.” Most of these countries fail to meet the minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to improve. A handful of countries on the Watch List find themselves there because they have failed to live up to the commitments they previously made against human trafficking.
The saddest news from the report is that 23 countries were ranked Tier 3. Although that’s only slightly more than 1%, there were only 13 Tier 3 countries in the 2010 report. These countries are doing nothing to stop these atrocities from happening.
Interestingly enough, the report uses the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to determine the minimum standards for measurement – looking for laws that prevent, prosecute, and protect. It seems odd to me that Congress would use the TVPA as a tool to monitor other countries and yet fail to reauthorize the law before it expired just a couple of weeks ago.
But there is good news. Just last week the bill wasn’t even on the docket for the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Because of public pressure, it was fast-tracked and passed – unanimously! There are still lots of steps before the bill is reauthorized, but this is just one small glimpse of how each person’s voice can make a difference in the fight to end human slavery.
There’s work to be done everywhere. From Tier 1 countries like the U.S. and France to Tier 3 countries like Iran and North Korea, millions of people are being exploited each year. Despite our efforts, the numbers don’t show drastic improvement.
We can no longer turn a blind eye and pretend it’s not happening. It is time to come together as a global community and strive for justice. The time to act is now.
What will you do to help end human trafficking?
Read the entire Trafficking in Persons report.