Race/Genger/Gay issues

Estimated 25m people being trafficked worldwide, says Harris

By Oluwaseun Sonde

United States Vice President, Kamala Harris has estimated people being trafficked worldwide as twenty-five million, adding that people are being lured from their homes or their home country with promises of a better future, only to be forced into sexual exploitation or forced into labor or indentured servitude.

Harris while delivering her remarks at the President’s Interagency Task Force to monitor and combat trafficking in persons on Tuesday at the White House Building, Washington, she said trafficking is an extremely heinous and profitable business which infact, globally, is a $150 billion business.

According to VP, “When we’re talking about human trafficking, we are talking about some human beings who are essentially buying and selling other human beings. So, today, we are here to focus on the estimated 25 million people around the world as one in three are under age of 18 who are currently victims of human trafficking.

“To understand the severity of human trafficking, or take on the scourge of human trafficking, we must all understand that human trafficking is multifaceted. It happens both abroad and right here in the United States. When I was Attorney General, we found that 72 percent of trafficking victims in California were born right here in the United States”.

She added that in 2020 alone, there were 11,000 instances of human trafficking that were reported in the United States. “And mind you, those were only the cases that were reported. Experts suggest that the number of people at risk has also grown during COVID-19. So we must address, with a sense of urgency, what is happening in our own backyard.

“Of the estimated 25 million people worldwide being trafficked, 65 percent are being forced to do domestic work, construction work, agricultural work, or manufacturing work. Last year alone, we seized nearly 1,500 shipments of merchandise made using forced labor, including things like clothes and electronics. Nearly $500 million”, she revealed.

Harris noted that the economic impact of forced labor is significant. “And it undermines our own supply chain, displacing American workers, driving down American wages, and creating an unlevel playing field for responsible American businesses. As a nation, we must require serious consequence and accountability for those who commit these crimes.

“And we must work to stop these crimes before they happen. In December, our administration issued our National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. Our plan centers on the key pillars of U.S. and global anti-trafficking efforts: prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships”, she said.

She emphasized that the Government is focusing on the most vulnerable. “And based on my experience, the most vulnerable are women and girls, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQI+ people, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, migrants, and children in the foster care system.

“When we identify who is most vulnerable, we can tailor our tactics and improve our strategy, we can look at what is putting communities at risk in order to improve our prevention efforts, and we can look at ways to reach those communities to ensure that support is trauma-informed and survivor- entered”.

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