August 1, 2007
Each year in June, the U.S. Department of State releases the annual Trafficking in Persons Report in order to document the efforts by foreign governments to bring an end to human trafficking. The most recent report highlighted what most international non-profits already know: that the problem is as widespread as it is complicated.
Called the modern day slavery, human trafficking has many forms. Labor trafficking, bonded labor, sex trafficking, child sex tourism, forced child labor and child soldiering are among the more vicious.
People can become trapped in these situations through force, or drawn in through fraud or coercion by traffickers that prey on their desperation and trust. Immigrants, domestic workers and children are especially at risk.
Beyond the human rights impacts of trafficking, there can be serious health impacts including physical and psychological abuse, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Sex trafficking plays a large part in spreading the AIDS epidemic worldwide.
Unfortunately, ending these practices is not a simple matter. There continues to be a large supply of victims, especially in developing countries where poverty makes people vulnerable to fraudulent promises of employment or a better life elsewhere. Demand also remains high in more prosperous countries, making the practice even more difficult to eradicate.
Non-profits of all stripes are increasingly focusing on the issue of human trafficking. Some work to raise awareness of the issue; others are working in communities to protect the vulnerable and to alleviate the conditions that encourage trafficking; others concentrate on rescuing and reintegrating trafficked victims.
To the right is a list of well-rated charities that are working to bring an end to these practices.