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UN: Heinous Crime of Human Trafficking Must Stop

FILE - A prostitute waits for a client in a street of Nice southern France, Nov. 21, 2013. France’s government is pushing one of Europe’s toughest laws against prostitution and sex trafficking, and other countries are watching closely.

The United Nations is calling for an end to Human Trafficking as it marks the first World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. It comes four years after the U.N. General Assembly adopted a Global Action Plan to combat the crime. This plan focuses on preventing trafficking, prosecuting offenders and protecting victims. It calls on states to set up national programs that implement these measures.

Human rights activists regard this day as another significant step in the fight against this modern form of slavery. Youla Haddadin, Advisor on Human Trafficking to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, tells VOA the sale and exploitation of people for economic gain occurs all over the world. She says no country is immune from this crime.

Universal problem

“It takes place in farms, in factories, in private households… for me this is the most serious form when you subject people to servitude and abuse them as domestic workers," said Haddadin. "It takes place in the form of exploiting the prostitution of others or forced prostitution. It takes many, many different forms…Nowadays, we can see a lot of forced marriages and forced marriages are a form of trafficking.”

This criminal flesh trade flourishes because it is highly lucrative. The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports traffickers, employers, and organized crime rake in $150 billion a year from commercial sexual exploitation and forced economic exploitation.

The ILO estimates 21 million men, women and children are victims of forced labor and forced prostitution. It reports the Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced laborers in the world, followed by Africa and Latin America.

Vulnerable groups

Haddadin says it is difficult to pinpoint the root causes of human trafficking. She notes there are many factors that make people vulnerable to exploitation.

“Certain groups are subjected to violence, discrimination in all its forms. Poverty can be a contributing factor. I would not say it is a root cause, but rather it is a contributing factor because not all poor people are victims of trafficking. Some victims are even from rich families.…You know people choose to emigrate to other countries, seeking a better life and it turns that they become victims of trafficking because no clear immigration policies are in place,” she said.

The United Nations is using the event to raise public awareness of the horrific violations suffered by millions of victims of trafficking. It says such violence and abuse must not go unpunished. Since human trafficking occurs in all countries, the U.N. says all governments must work to end this hideous practice.