Last year, I visited a shelter for trafficking survivors. I was embraced by children who should have been in grade school, but were instead recovering from having been enslaved in a brothel. We know trafficking in persons affects every region and every country in the world, but looking into the eyes of those girls and hearing their stories firsthand brought home for me once again the very real and personal tragedy of modern slavery. That’s why over the past decade the United States and the international community have made the solemn commitment to fight this scourge wherever it exists. Those girls, and the millions of people they represent around the world, are a call to action to deliver on the promises of the last decade.
The 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report includes more than 180 narratives that assess governments on their efforts to combat trafficking in persons. In keeping with the language and values of the UN Trafficking Protocol, which seek to guarantee prevention, prosecution, and protection for the maximum number of victims, the United States defines trafficking in persons to include all of the conduct involved in forced labor as well as the trafficking of adults and children for commercial sexual exploitation. As we assess ourselves and governments around the world, the true test of a country’s anti-trafficking efforts is not just whether a government has enacted strong laws consistent with that approach, but whether these laws are being implemented broadly and effectively. In short, it’s whether they deliver.
In this decade of delivery, we must ensure that our efforts continue to address all forms of trafficking, whether for sex or labor, internal or transnational, or affecting men, women, or children. We must prevent this crime by forging partnerships that will hold source countries responsible for exploitative recruiting and ensure that destination countries employ vigorous victim identification efforts and forcefully prosecute traffickers. We must work with industry leaders so that consumers can know that the products or services they buy come from responsible sources. And we must improve the capacity of governments to protect victims and hold traffickers accountable. Countries known for well-established adherence to the rule of law cannot just rest on their laurels, but must work to deliver the justice and services that trafficking victims deserve.
This annual Report embodies the United States’ continued dedication to fighting traffickers no matter where they may be, because fighting slavery and standing up for human rights is part of our national identity. For the girls in the shelter – and for all those who have been victimized by this crime – we will remain steadfast in our efforts and truthful in our assessments. We must deliver on our promises to protect victims, punish abusers, and restore the lives of survivors so that someday they will have the opportunity to realize their God-given potential.
Hillary Rodham Clinton