A few years ago I was in northern Thailand visiting a safe house filled with women rescued from human trafficking.
The director of the home told me that the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act--and the annual TIP (Trafficking in Persons) Report that accompanies it--has made an enormous dent in the multi-billion dollar industry of human trafficking.
This morning the US State Department released the 2010 TIP Report, which ranks 170+ countries according to their efforts (or lack of effort) to eliminate human trafficking within and across their borders.
There are 3 tiers and a "watch-list" tier--Tier 2 countries that are in danger of being demoted to Tier 3 unless they make substantial efforts to get rid of trafficking within their borders.US now ranked
This is the 10th annual report--and the 1st one that includes a ranking of the United States. Thankfully the US is in Tier 1. That is not to say we don't have a trafficking problem in the US. We do, but efforts are being made to eliminate it.
"[The US ranking is] based on the same standards to which we hold other countries," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this morning when the 2010 TIP Report was released. "The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America.
"This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it," she emphasized. "Human trafficking is not someone else's responsibility."
Heroes in the fight
I was in tears watching the live event online this morning when Laura Germino of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers was honored as one of the heroes of the fight to stop human trafficking. She talked about forced field labor in the US.
When she began the fight 20 years ago, things were so bad that "there was nowhere to go but up," she said. "It takes a whole community to fight slavery. It is our collective fight to wipe slavery off the face of the earth. We are fighting for tier zero."
Trafficking follows disasters
One of the additions to the 2010 report is a section on the need to quickly mobilize to prevent human trafficking (particularly child trafficking) following natural disasters.
As you know if you read this blog regularly, the earthquake in Haiti was a prime example of the need for this kind of strategy. (See February post here.)
Child traffickers were in Haiti before the ground even stopped shaking, and they quickly scooped up children and carted them around in wheelbarrows selling them to the highest bidder. (I wish I were making this up.)
Hopefully this report, and the many "best practices" that it spotlights, will do more to eliminate that kind of disaster-related trafficking--as well as many other forms of it.
Links if you want to read more
I'll have more to share with you as I peruse the 372-page report. Meanwhile, here are links if you want to see the report yourself:
2010 TIP Report (pdf)