Human Trafficking and Slavery

October 16, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 20
Are governments doing enough to eradicate the illicit trade?
By Robert Kiener


Wang Bangyin sobs as he hugs his son (AFP/Getty Images/STR)
Wang Bangyin sobs as he hugs his son, one of 60 children rescued from human traffickers in Guiyang in southwest China. Last year Chinese police rescued more than 15,000 abducted women and 8,660 children from 3,200 human trafficking gangs. China's thriving black market in stolen children stems in part from its strict one-child policy. The trafficked women and children usually are exploited for labor or the sex trade. (AFP/Getty Images/STR)

Long hidden and often denied, the global epidemic of human trafficking and slavery is finally being exposed on the world stage. A five-year-old chained to a rug loom in India, a domestic servant enslaved and beaten in the Middle East and sex slaves trafficked within the United States are among the 21 million men, women and children held in some form of bonded labor, slavery or forced prostitution around the world today. With millions of vulnerable victims being trafficked across international borders, this inhuman crime racks up more than $32 billion in profits each year. As nations seek effective ways to combat what President Barack Obama recently called “a debasement of our common humanity,” some experts say legalizing prostitution and some forms of child labor might remove financial incentives for the illicit trade. While some nations have cracked down on traffickers, resulting in increased prosecutions and convictions, many more need to join the fight, according to activists, who say the biggest obstacle to halting the trade in human beings is the lack of political will.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Nov. 01, 2013  Religious Repression
May 17, 2013  Assisted Suicide
Oct. 16, 2012  Human Trafficking and Slavery
Sep. 20, 2011  Saving Indigenous Peoples
Oct. 30, 2009  Human Rights Issues
Jul. 25, 2008  Human Rights in China
Mar. 26, 2004  Human Trafficking and Slavery
Apr. 30, 1999  Women and Human Rights
Nov. 13, 1998  Human Rights
Jul. 19, 1985  Human Rights in the 1980s
May 18, 1979  Human Rights Policy
Apr. 03, 1968  Human Rights Protection
Mar. 21, 1956  Forced Labor and Slavery
Apr. 27, 1949  Forced Labor
Jan. 25, 1945  Bills of Rights
Global Issues