Svetlana: Sex Trafficking and 21st Century Slavery
While we welcome and celebrate the birth of little girls, it is important to remember how fortunate we are here in America. Other little girls — and young women and boys — around the world are suffering in prostitution and slavery.
Photo credit: DOL
This past Friday, the State Department released their annual report on sex trafficking. In her statement, Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice said that the State Department estimates that sex trafficking across international borders involves at least 800,000 people every year, with millions more involved within their own countries.
A Nepalese father
out of slavery
This is 21st century slavery.
In his remarks, Ambassador John R. Miller, Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons
told the story of Svetlana, a girl affected by sex trafficking:
A mother searching
for her daughter
Last year, Svetlana was a young woman living in Belarus, looking for a job. She came upon some Turkish men who promised her a well-paying job in Istanbul and once Svetlana crossed the border, the men seized her money, her papers, her passport. They locked her up. They forced her into prostitution. And then one night, they farmed her out to two businessmen, just like a commodity.
Desperate, Svetlana jumped out of a window and fell six stories to a sidewalk. According to Turkish court documents, the so-called customers went down, found her on the sidewalk and instead of calling the police, called the traffickers, who killed her.
Svetlana’s body lay unclaimed in the morgue for two weeks until Turkish authorities learned her identity and sent her body to Belarus.
The State Department’s TIP, Trafficking in Persons, Office classifies countries worldwide who are involved in trafficking into three tiers and a watch list. Tier Three are the worst offenders “whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards.” This list includes perennial bad guys Cuba and North Korea, but also some key American allies like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. When a reporter asked Ambassador Miller about these countries at the press conference, he was clearly uncomfortable.
QUESTION: — and many of them have laws in place, not to mention authoritarian regimes that should be able to enforce these laws, one would think. Could you help us understand why they aren’t doing more, especially being such close allies of the U.S. in counterterrorism, for example? And we really do want to know who’s been sanctioned.
AMBASSADOR MILLER: I’m glad you’ve — the toughest question comes last. Well, in terms of countries that have been sanctioned, if you look at the countries in — nobody has been sanctioned this year. If you look at the countries from last year’s report, and we can — I can’t recall them from memory, but you can — our staff can get them to you, but your — the tough part of your question was — well, here are close friends of the United States; how can this happen?
Exactly. How can this happen? And why can’t we do more?
How long does Saudi Arabia get to continue being such a world-class slaver and incubator of terrorists. . . and remain our friend?
Obviously it’s a complicated problem with difficult answers. Ambassador Miller responded that we need more public awareness. So this is my small entry in the fight. . . .
And, even more importantly, for the little girls like Svetlana who still live today in slavery.
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Also see NuLabor and the Sex Slave Trade and the UK and EU debate
More info at the Polaris Project
Update: Whatsakyer reports on the issue here in USA: Saudi couple enslaves Indonesian woman in Colorado
Update July 14: Whatsakyer presents another debate.