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Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 10:00 GMT
US highlights human trafficking

Women are often lured into the sex industry

By State Department correspondent Richard Lister

The United States has criticised India and Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the trafficking of people.

The US State Department says the forced movement of people who have been either kidnapped or coerced is one of the most comprehensive challenges to human rights in the world today.

This is a growing global problem that each year robs millions - mostly women and children - of their rights, their loved ones, and often of their very lives

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
For the first time, the Department added special sections on the problem, to the Human Rights report it issued on Friday.

The State Department says almost every country in the world is either a source, transit point or destination for people who have been forced into marriage, menial employment or the sex industry.

Rural poor at risk

But the US says the problem is particularly prevalent in Asia, where women and children from poor rural areas are frequently sold into prostitution or domestic service.

The State Department has criticised the Indian and Pakistani governments in particular for failing to tackle what is a widespread problem in both countries.

The trafficking industry is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world

State Department report
The annual Human Rights report says there is a lack of will on the part of the two governments, and widespread corruption among the police and judiciary who are supposed to be addressing the problem locally.

Globally, the report says millions of people are facing similar exploitation, and it uses the example of Russia and Ukraine where many victims have been lured abroad by the promise of good jobs, only to be held captive once they arrive and forced into bonded labour or the sex industry under threat of violence or death.

The US says there is evidence that Nigeria and Brazil are the focus of similar operations.

The report concludes that human trafficking has now become one of the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal enterprises in the world, with a multi billion dollar profit margin which is smaller only than that from drugs and guns.

The underground nature of trafficking makes it difficult to quantify, says the report, but the most reliable estimates are of one to two million people trafficked annually.

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See also:
08 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Refugees smuggled to Pakistan
10 Oct 99 |  Europe
First lady: End prostitution trade

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