Thursday, July 06, 2006

Highlights from Rep. Chris Smith's Speech

On June 16, I posted an article on the work of lawmakers, the Bush administration and Julia Ormond to end human trafficking.

I just read Representative Chris Smith's speech on the issue. It is worth the time it takes to peruse it for the additional information he gives regarding the worldwide slavery situation and actions various governments, including our own, are taking against this evil. Here is a link. Below are a few highlights:

The U.S. Government estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 women, children and men are bought and sold across international borders each year and exploited through forced labor or commercial sex exploitation, and potentially millions more are trafficked internally within the borders of countries. Eighty percent of the victims are women and girls. An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign citizens are trafficked into the United States each year.

And now we know well that many American girls and young women – many of whom start out as "runaways" – are bought, sold, abused, and raped throughout
the United States. [emphasis mine]

All profits derived from selling women and children into slavery must be seized and put to good use like providing some semblance of restitution to the victims or for the construction of shelters.

...the United States has become a leader in addressing this human rights violation and encouraging other governments to do the same.

Forced labor, in which people are enslaved and exploited for purposes of labor often within their own countries, is infrequently mentioned but affects anywhere from 4 to 27 million people worldwide. In places such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Brazil, Jordan, Kuwait, and Taiwan foreign migrant workers or these countries’ own citizens are trapped and held in slave-like working conditions.

Millions of men, women, and children, predominantly from India’s Dalit caste, are in debt bondage and face involuntary servitude in brick kilns, rice mills, and zari embroidery factories.

Athletes and fans are gathering in Germany for one of the premiere, world-wide sporting events of our day, the 2006 FIFA World Cup...But, looming in its shadow is the very real threat that the World Cup matches have become a catalyst and magnet for sex trafficking into Germany. Those that work with victims report that trafficking for the so-called sex industry often heightens during major sports events. In Germany, the problem is exacerbated by the legalization of prostitution.

Traffickers have also worked overtime to exploit this opportunity to improve their illicit revenues through the expected rise in demand in the socalled "sex industry."

Sadly, this is not idle speculation. AFP reported over the weekend that police in Latvia arrested a man suspected of selling at least six women to German brothels. Latvian and German police collaborated in a monthlong investigation in which the suspect allegedly paid his friends 100 euros for each woman found. He, in turn, was paid 400 euros per woman by the German brothel.

We will hear testimony today from two women who have traveled from Russia to tell us about their horrific experiences being trafficked to Germany. Ms. Masha Gnezdilova (NEZ-DIL-OH-VAH) and Ms. Irina Veselykh (VEZ-EL-KAH) were
deceived by offers of non-existent jobs in Germany, their passports seized, beaten, raped, and forced to work as prostitutes, controlled by the Russian mafia.

European parliamentarians...were sobered by the expectation that, especially since the matches are being held in Germany which legalized pimping and prostitution in 2001, the World Cup fans would be legally free to rape women in brothels or even in mobile units designed specifically for this form of exploitation. Of the approximately 400,000 prostitutes in Germany, it is estimated that 75 percent of those who are abused in these houses of prostitution are foreigners, many from Central and Eastern Europe.


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