Rice: “modern-day abolitionist movement has emerged...to end this trade in human degradation."
The State Department's 2005 Trafficking In Persons report doesn't only name and shame. It has policy consequences to a country's relationship with the United States if it is named to Tier 3, the worst of the worst, including sanctions. Is there a point? Yes, there is, very much so. Sexual slavery of trafficked human beings is one of the most preventable crimes there is. Gary Haugen, President of the International Justice Mission
, testified to that effect to the House's Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation, Human Rights of the Committee on International Relations. Here is his insight on why the Trafficking In Persons report is needed and useful:
The simple fact of the matter is this: sex trafficking only flourishes where it is tolerated by local law enforcement. The business of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation requires that the perpetrators commit multiple felonies of abduction, rape, assault, and false imprisonment – and then it requires that the perpetrators hold out the victims of these crimes openly to the public so that the customers can find them. It does no good at all for the brothel keepers and pimps to hide their victims. In fact, to make money on their investment, the pimps and brothel keepers must make their victims openly available to the customer public – and not just once, but continuously, and over a long period of time. Obviously, therefore, if the customers can find the victims of sex trafficking whenever they want, so can the police. How, therefore, do you possibly get away with running a sex trafficking enterprise? You do so only if permitted by local law enforcement. Generally, this is facilitated by bringing the police into the business and sharing the profits with them in exchange for protection against the enforcement of the laws that are openly and continuously violated every single day the business is in operation. Certainly sex trafficking is exacerbated by poverty and economic desperation; but we do not find epidemic levels of sex trafficking wherever we find poverty in the world. Rather, sex trafficking flourishes on a large scale only in those countries where it is tolerated by local law enforcement.You can read the rest of his testimony here.
This is the indispensable insight about the fundamental vulnerability of sex trafficking that must be grasped. Sex trafficking requires the commission of multiple felonies in a way that is held out openly to the public. Therefore it can be shut down wherever there is the political will and operational resources to do so.
Sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation can be drastically reduced wherever a country has the political will and the operational capacity to send the perpetrators to jail and to treat the victims with compassion and dignity. This is a fight that can actually be won. In fact, this was the animating conviction behind the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). The TVPA sought to influence the political will of countries with serious trafficking problems by making clear that there would be consequences for a country’s relationship with the Unites States, including the possibility of sanctions, if that country did not make significant efforts to meet minimum standards in combating sex trafficking. Secondly, the TVPA also authorized grants to help strengthen a country’s capacity to address sex trafficking through prevention, prosecution, and protection activities.
The authors of the TVPA understood that it was essential to strengthen both the political will and the operational capacity of countries to fight sex trafficking. It was well understood that in many countries the victims of sex trafficking fundamentally lack the voice and power to make themselves a priority for national law enforcement. Sex trafficking operations prey upon the most marginalized groups in society – women, children, refugees, undocumented persons, ethnic minorities and the poor. Fundamentally, political leaders do not feel threatened in their hold on power if they fail to protect impoverished and low-status women and girls. Scarce law enforcement resources are deployed to protect the things that societies value the most, and thus women and children are often left utterly vulnerable to the brutalities of the commercial sex trade. Accordingly, the TVPA endeavored to place the voice and values of the American people on the side of these vulnerable women and children by making it clear that their abuse would not be tolerated. Specifically, the TVPA established the Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons to provide a voice of accountability for the otherwise voiceless victims of trafficking. This new office would tell the truth about whether a country was vigorously defending women and children against the horrors of trafficking, with the understanding that those countries unwilling to provide such basic protections would find an adverse impact on their relationship with the United States.
His International Justice Mission is a Christian human rights organization based in DC; here's a short profile
of the good works they do.
A nice thing about the TIP report is that along with the bad, it also gives us some good. Let's meet some of the African heroes:
The report names as a hero Ugandan Angelina Atyam, who co-founded the Concerned Parents' Association (CPA) in 1996 after the terrorist insurgent organization Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) abducted her 14-year-old daughter. Since then, Atyam has worked tirelessly to provide support and assistance to child victims and their families who have suffered from LRA atrocities, including rape, mutilation, forced labor and forced soldiering.
The CPA serves as a support network for more than 2,000 parents of abducted children and operates a reception center where former LRA captives are provided medical support. In 2004, Atyam was reunited with her daughter, Charlotte, and two grandchildren who risked their lives to escape from the LRA.
Another hero, Aida Mbodj, family minister in Senegal, has publicly taken a strong stand against exploitative child begging in her country. She has received death threats for her controversial position. As a leading government official and the wife of a well-respected religious figure, Minister Mbodj has worked to eliminate the abusive use of children to generate income for some religious scholars -- a practice that qualifies as child trafficking and is inconsistent, she says, with Islam's teachings. The family minister now provides subsidies to Quranic schools that do not exploit their students.
Minister Mbodj also laid the groundwork for and signed a 2004 bilateral anti-trafficking agreement between Senegal and Mali.
The TIP report gave special recognition to Mali, Senegal, and Burkina Faso for "best practices" in implementing bilateral anti-trafficking accords. In 2004, the government of Mali signed bilateral accords with the governments of Senegal and Burkina Faso to fight child trafficking. As a result, Senegal repatriated 54 Malian children and Mali repatriated 20 children to Burkina Faso.
Malawi has been singled out in the report for "creatively combating the prostitution of children." A local Malawian nongovernmental organization, People Serving Girls at Risk (PSGR), takes an innovative approach to helping girls leave prostitution through social reintegration and building support networks.
The report says that male and female staff members working as "peer educators" go undercover where girls solicit customers and pretend to be prostitutes or clients to establish relationships of trust. The girls in prostitution are offered social and medical services and legal advice. PSGR helps form "watchdog groups" that are vigilant against girls joining or being lured into the commercial sex industry. These groups visit families and offer counseling to vulnerable girls.
To "combat the abomination of human trafficking," Secretary Rice said, "a modern-day abolitionist movement has emerged -- concerned citizens, students, faith-based organizations, feminists, and other nongovernmental groups are doing courageous and compassionate work to end this trade in human degradation. The United States government is proud to stand with them at the forefront of this international anti-trafficking campaign."
If your country is named on the list at a humiliating position, before you react with indignation and make excuses, I suggest you ask yourself why law enforcement in your country tolerates sexual slavery. And where are your country's abolitionist heroes? Why don't your country's leaders pay a political price at home for tolerating this phenomenon? If they would pay a price for it, it would stop, and your country wouldn't be on the list.