Anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts made impressive gains in 2004. In many parts of the world, however, the involvement of police and immigration officials in trafficking seriously hobbled efforts to free victims of their misery and prosecute those responsible for modern-day slavery. Too many law enforcement operations were unsuccessful as brothel-keepers, sweatshop owners, or traffickers were tipped off by corrupt officials.
The victims who are lost to corruption are nameless, but they are not faceless. This is the face of one such young girl, estimated to be 13 years old, found with 20 other young girls in a brothel on Lane 12 in a key South Asian city's redlight district, during a police raid on December 2, 2004. She has no name; we shall call her "Renu." She and the other girls were assembled in the upstairs lobby of the brothel and interviewed briefly by the police, before being ushered downstairs to the street into waiting police vans. In the intervening seconds before the police officer in charge could descend to the street after the girls, however, corrupt police officers colluded with the brothel management in whisking the girls into another brothel — they were gone within seconds. Renu is someone's daughter, someone's sister and we can imagine her happy in a life of which she is now deprived. Instead she is confined to a bed, subjected to serial rapes by "clients" in a hell that, barring rescue or escape, will likely lead to death by illnesses brought on by the sustained abuse of her fragile, undeveloped body. Renu and other young girls being raped for profit in the brothel were found crammed into a small compartment behind a false wall — where the brothel keeper had hidden them to avoid detection and rescue.
We dedicate this year's Report to Renu and all the precious lives of trafficking victims who have had their freedom cruelly denied because of corrupt security officials or have been placed into servitude by complicit officials. For their betrayal of the public's trust and for their complicity in rape and slavery, these officials deserve the greatest possible punishment; yet all too often receive a slap on the wrist or no punishment at all. The TVPA requires that governments investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence officials complicit of facilitating trafficking in persons and we are determined to shine the spotlight brightly on what corrupt police officers prefer to do in the dark — and what governments have failed to stop. Renu deserves nothing less.
U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
|Feleke T. Assefa||Eleanor Kennelly Gaetan||Leaksmy C. Norin||Mark B. Taylor|
|Chad Bettes||Paula R. Goode||Rachel Owen||Caroline S. Tetschner|
|Linda M. Brown||Deborah Sheldon Kitchens||Lauren Pucci||Jennifer Topping|
|Carla Menares Bury||John R. Miller||Amy O'Neill Richard||Rachel Yousey|
|Jennifer Schrock Donnelly||Jessica M. Moniz||Gannon Sims|
|Anthony Eterno||Sally Neumann||Felecia A. Stevens|