Remarks
Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Washington, DC
June 14, 2010


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Hello, I'm María Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. Today is an important day, when the U.S. government reasserts its commitment to combating the crime of human trafficking by launching the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Human trafficking—also known as modern slavery—is an issue that affects the security and protection of women, men and children across the world. It is a human rights abuse that has lasting implications on people in every hemisphere, continent, country, state, and in every community. And it is a crime that violates our basic values of freedom and opportunity for every person, regardless of national origin or standing in society.

As the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report outlines, trends from South America to the Middle East to Southeast Asia show what we call the "feminization" of human trafficking.

While trafficking victims include men and boys, today the majority of human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls – and that number is growing. This trend reflects not only the terrible number of victims of sexual slavery, but also victims of labor trafficking—whether they are in farms, factories, or homes as domestic servants. These trafficked women and girls suffer physical, psychological and sexual abuse the world over.

Under the Obama Administration and the leadership of Secretary Clinton, we join our international partners to ensure that governments are committing time, resources and energy to investigate and prosecute the traffickers, protect victims of trafficking and preventing this crime from happening in the first place. And this year, the Report ranks the United States for the first time ever, holding itself to the same standards to which it holds others.

Slavery is the most extreme form of depriving a person of the ability to pursue his or her God-given potential. But as horrible as this human rights abuse may be, there is hope yet.

Every day, victims are becoming survivors: young women who toiled in sexual slavery in Southeast Asia can now secure microloans to start small businesses; a young boy in Haiti trapped in domestic servitude now travels to share his story with the world; and a girl who was held in servitude in a garment factory is now pursuing a life in America with her family as a small-business owner. All of these stories and more can be found in the 2010 Report that we launch today, and that I encourage you to explore.

Together, we can work toward a day without modern slavery. Join the movement and let’s get to work.