By Rohida Khan
Long Beach, California
As we all sit and enjoy the comfort of freedom in our homes, within a several mile radius of our homes there are scores of young women entrapped in virtual sexual slavery. They are victims of the most horrendous sexual atrocities imaginable that can permanently scar them physically and emotionally for the rest of their lives. Human trafficking is a global tragedy that robs victims of their basic human rights. It is a form of modern-day slavery proliferating in the United States and in developing countries.
The TVPA(Trafficking Victims Protection Act) defines “severe forms of trafficking,” as:
a. Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or
coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
b. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Recently revised estimates indicate that 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across international borders and 18,000 to 20,000 persons are trafficked into the country each year. This estimate covers persons trafficked across borders and recruited, harbored, transported, provided or obtained for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Approximately 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls and up to 50 percent are minors.
Human trafficking is an insidious type of international and domestic crime. Trafficking in human beings is lucrative because unlike drugs, which are sold and quickly consumed, a human being can be used and sold multiple times for repeated profit. According to recent research human trafficking generates $9.5 billion in annual revenue. It is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world today, and at the present rate of expansion, it will soon surpass profits made by criminal networks through the sale of guns and drugs.
Human Trafficking does not only have traumatic impact on the victims individually but it also increases global health risks. According to Trafficking in Person Report (TIP) human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat It deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it increases global health risks, and it fuels the growth of organized crime. (The Department of State is required by law to submit a report each year to the US Congress on foreign governments’ efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons. The report is available at: www.state.gov/g/tip)
A victim need not be physically transported from one location to another in order to be trafficked. The International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations (UN) agency responsible for monitoring labor standards, employment, and social protection issues around the world, estimates that at any one time there are 12.3 million people in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor, and sexual servitude and involuntary servitude. Other estimates of global labor exploitation range from 4 million to 27 million.
TIP places each country into one of the three lists, described in the report as tiers, mandated by the TVPA. This placement is based more on the extent of government action to combat trafficking. TIP explains each government’s efforts to enforce laws against trafficking, protect victims, and prevent trafficking. It explains the basis for rating a country as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, or Tier 3. (TIP Report, 2007)
The TVPA lists three factors to be considered in determining whether a country should be in Tier 2 (or Tier 2 Watch List) or in Tier 3: 1) The extent to which the country is a country of origin, transit or destination for severe forms of trafficking; 2) The extent to which the government of the country does not comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards including, in particular, the extent of the government’s trafficking-related corruption; and 3) The resources and capabilities of the government to address and eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons. According to TIP Report 2007, there are :28 countries in Teir 1 list, 75 countries in Teir 2 list (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel and Bangladesh are few names), 32 countries in Teir 2 watch list (India being one) and 16 countries in Teir 3 list. (TIP Report 2007).
(Pakistani-born Ms. Rohida Khan is the Director of the federally-funded (NETS) for The Salvation Army and is based at their Western US Headquarters in Long Beach, California. In her role as Anti-Trafficking Program Director for The Salvation Army’s Western Territory, she is directing an innovative and comprehensive program to combat all forms of human trafficking in 3 major US cities – Denver, Anchorage and El Paso. Ms. Khan has Masters Degrees in International Relations, Psychology, and Political Science. She also has Bachelor Degree in Arts and Law)