Modern Day Slavery
Modern Day Slavery
In 2008, ABC correspondent Dan Harris went undercover to see just how difficult it would be to buy a slave today. Not difficult at all, he found. Within roughly 10 hours of exiting his New York office, he had negotiated a $150 price tag for an 11-year-old girl at a hotel in Haiti.
Harris' experience is the tip of a giant iceberg.
A U.S. State Department report released this week estimates there are 27 million victims of human trafficking — modern jargon for slavery — worldwide. The report defines specific forms of slavery, including sex trafficking, in which adults or children are forced or deceived into prostitution; forced labor among adults and children; bonded labor, in which traffickers or recruiters exploit an initial debt assumed as terms of employment; involuntary domestic servitude; and use of children as soldiers.
Each of these practices is repugnant in its own way. And even as awareness of these crimes has been rising over the past decade, thanks to the U.N. and other organizations mounting steady accountability campaigns, it appears on the ground that human trafficking is only growing more pervasive.
Twenty-three countries are not meeting international standards to stop human trafficking, according to the report, and another 41 countries are on a watch list with sanctions threatened if their record does not improve.
For the first time, the State Department included the U.S. in its report this year. It gives the U.S. a top ranking, but also points out that the country has room for improvement. As Harris' experiment illustrates, the U.S. is a market for human trafficking, but homegrown varieties of forced labor and sex trafficking also exist.
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