Sarah Mendelson, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will release the eleventh annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report and the world’s attention will turn to the global fight against human trafficking and the persistence of this problem in at least 181 countries around the world.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 12.3 million people globally are victims of trafficking—trapped in forced labor, debt bondage, or sexual exploitation. An accurate number of victims is hard to determine, however, because they are often a hidden population, kept under guard in mines, fishing boats at sea, back alley sweatshops, and brothels. Trafficking is a crime, a human rights abuse, and a development problem.
In our development programs, USAID is tackling the conditions that enable the trafficking of humans, such as barriers to education and job opportunities, ethnic and gender discrimination, weak rule of law, and the drivers of conflict and corruption. Since 2001, USAID has worked in 70 countries to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators.
In February 2011, we launched an agency-wide Counter Trafficking Code of Conduct (pdf 40kb), holding our contractors, grantees, and personnel to the highest ethical standards. Next month, we will release a field guide to help our Missions implement anti-TIP programs, and in the fall, we will launch a new Agency-wide anti-trafficking strategy. Below are some recent examples of our worldwide programs:
- Through USAID’s ongoing partnership with MTV End Exploitation and Trafficking (EXIT) Alliance (pdf 130kb), we have reached over 560 million households through short films, documentaries, and online content designed to raise awarenessof trafficking and inspire young people to take action. This past Saturday, MTV Exit sponsored a concert attended by 20,000 young people in Chiang Mai, Thailand. ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan attended the concert as did U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney.
- Earlier this month in Russia, USAID announced The Stop Human Trafficking App Challenge in partnership with the Demi and Ashton Foundation (DNA)and NetHope. We are seeking to leverage innovation by supporting the best mobile application to combat trafficking there. Contestants have until August 8, 2011 to submit entries, and the winning technology application will be implemented by a domestic anti-trafficking organization.
- In January in Tajikistan, we supported the establishment of Central Asia’s first all-male shelter for victims of labor trafficking in partnership with the International Organization for Migration. Responding to survey data in 2010 that suggested nearly 91 percent of TIP cases in Central Asia involved labor exploitation and that 69 percent of the victims were men, USAID expanded the rehabilitation and reintegration centers to serve this population. These centers will help raise awareness that men and boys as well as girls and women are vulnerable to trafficking.
Check out USAID’s IMPACT blog this week for more stories about USAID TIP programs around in the world in support of the TIP Report release.