The Biggest Slave Trade in History

Article excerpt

THE alarming rise in human trafficking of women and children has captured the attention of the US State Department which conducted a conference (Feb. 23-26) with invitations to participants from 110 nations, to seek effective strategies to combat this inhuman practice. Although figures are hard to come by, due to the secrecy of the illegal trade, it is conservatively estimated that 500,000 humans are trafficked into the US each year.

It is the new growth industry for organized crime, since criminal syndicates have discovered they can make nearly as much money moving human bodies across borders as they can move drugs or weapons. The State Department estimates that as many as four million women and children may be victimized globally. Unfortunately, much of the rise in this sex slave trade has been pinpointed in Southeast Asia, where extreme poverty and, in some societies, the preference for boys over girls, contributes to the slave trade. It's the girls who are considered expendable and severely impoverished families can be tempted to sell their girl children.

While many governments prefer not to deal with this shameful issue (and some corrupt officials and police are known to protect the slave traders) the Philippines has been acutely aware of this problem, and been dealing with it openly for years, through NGOs and the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women and UNICEF. Here, much of the tragedy has centered around girls seeking honest employment abroad who sign on as entertainers or singers or models only to find once they have left their home country, that they are forced into prostitution. In Europe, women from the former Soviet bloc countries, are finding the more open borders a reason to leave home to seek employment, and often end up with the same fate. …