Despite Indian government progress to combat human trafficking, India continues to be a source, destination and transit country for forced labor and sex trafficking, noted the U.S. State Department in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report released June 20 in Washington, D.C.*
Speaking to a packed audience in the Benjamin Franklin room at the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the report, saying she had worked on the issue for more than 12 years.
“Today, it is estimated as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery, what we sometimes call trafficking in persons,” said Clinton, adding that there has been an explosion in the exploitation of women and girls in the sex trade and forced labor.
“Ultimately, this report reminds us of the human cost of this crime. Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life. And our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it’s getting a good job to send money home to support a family, trying to get an education for oneself or one’s children, or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life,” said Clinton
PTI reported that Clinton spoke about a trip she recently made to Kolkata, where she met a girl, Poonam Khatoon, who had been born in a brothel. Khatoon asked Clinton if she would like to see some of her karate moves.
"Now I don't know what's going to happen to that young girl, whose image I see in my mind's eye, in the years and decades ahead. But I do know that with a little help, her life can be so much better than her mother's. And that's what we need to be focused on, and it's what we need to try to do for all victims and survivors," Clinton said.
"It wasn't so much the karate as it was the way she stood so straight, looked me in the eye, had a sense of pride and accomplishment about her," Clinton told reporters.
India’s forced labor of millions of its citizens constitutes its largest trafficking problem, noted the State Department report. Men, women and children are forced to work making bricks, in rice mills, agriculture and embroidery factories as bonded labor, often subjected to physical and sexual violence.
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