Trafficking in Women and Girls - An International Human Rights ViolationFact sheet released by the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, March 10, 1998.
- Trafficking in women and girls has become one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. This increasingly serious problem is having an impact on all nations, including the United States. An estimated one to two million women and girls are trafficked annually around the world, generally for the purpose of forced labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation. Ten thousand to 100,000 women are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
- Traffickers in women, much like narcotic traffickers, operate boldly across international borders, using modern means of communication and trade. They lure victims with advertisements and false promises of jobs as nannies, waitresses, sales clerks, and models. This modern form of slavery frequently involves force, deception, and coercion.
- Victims of trafficking often reach international borders with faulty documents. Sometimes they travel with valid tourist visas; however, these visas are obtained by misrepresenting the purposes of their travel.
- Well-established criminal organizations traffic in women and girls, often capitalizing on rising unemployment and disintegrating social networks in developing countries, Central Europe, and the former Soviet Union. North America is a growing destination point for trafficking victims.
U.S. Government Response
- The Presidentís Interagency Council on Women established a senior governmental working group on trafficking to address the areas of prevention, victim assistance and protection, and enforcement. The working group consults closely with non-governmental organizations and members of Congress.
- The Department of State is working jointly with the European Union, the Group of Eight, and the United Nations, as well as the Governments of Israel, Italy, and Ukraine, to combat trafficking.
- The United States and the European Union formally launched an information campaign, kicked off in November 1997 by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, to combat trafficking in women and girls and to warn potential victims of methods used by traffickers. The United States supports a public awareness campaign in Ukraine and the European Union supports a similar campaign in Poland.
- The Department of State and the Department of Justice are training foreign immigration and law enforcement personnel to enhance their ability to effectively implement border security and to identify traffickers and victims of trafficking. They are also training foreign judges and prosecutors regarding enhanced enforcement of laws against trafficking.
- The Department of Justice is actively investigating and prosecuting cases involving trafficking in women and girls into as well as within the United States.
- The Department of State funded the development of a comprehensive database on U.S. and international legislation protecting women and children from commercial sexual abuse. The project is analyzing laws, penalties, sentencing patterns, reporting requirements, law enforcement capabilities, extradition practices and victim assistance programs. An expected outcome of this project is prototype legislation and guidelines on enforcement and victim protection.
- The Presidentís Interagency Council on Women will convene a gathering of governmental and non-governmental representatives from source, transit, and destination countries and representatives from international organizations to call attention to the issue of trafficking in women and girls and to develop strategies for combating this egregious human rights violation.
- The Department of Justice is reviewing existing United States criminal laws and their current use to determine if they are adequate to prevent and deter trafficking in women, to ensure safety and services for victims, and to recommend any legal changes to combat trafficking.
- The Department of State, in coordination with the Department of Justice, will work with other countries to provide assistance to victims of trafficking, to develop legislation to combat trafficking, and to expand efforts to train legal and law enforcement personnel worldwide.
- The Department of State consular presence worldwide will work with source, transit, and destination countries to develop strategies for protecting victims and expanding and enhancing anti-fraud training to stop the international movement of trafficked women and girls.
- The Department of State and United States Agency for International Development will work jointly with the Government of Ukraine to develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated strategy to combat trafficking of women and girls into and out of Ukraine. The United States-Ukraine cooperation will serve as a model for a multi-disciplinary approach to combat trafficking that can be expanded to other countries.
- The Department of State and the United States Information Agency will expand public awareness campaigns targeted to potential victims to warn them of the methods used by traffickers.
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