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Human trafficking globalized

By Maggie Lee, UPI.com   |   Dec. 4, 2012 at 1:36 PM
ATLANTA, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- The market for humans for sex or forced labor is global say people who are calling for fixes on both the supply and demand sides of the illicit trade.

Law enforcement is only part of the solution to the traffic in humans for sex or labor, said Rebecca Posey, director of the Not for Sale campaign in Georgia. She said some 30 million people are thought to be in bondage worldwide, more than at the height of the Atlantic slave trade.

“What has to happen is a private sector response,” said Posey. “Because human trafficking is a business. It’s driven by markets. So markets ultimately have to be involved in solving this problem,” she said at a conference last week in Atlanta.

The campaign, which has headquarters in California, works for socially responsible enterprises and has helped set up fair-labor factories in Asia and South America. One of their partners is Levi’s, the clothing maker.

“We’re showing it can be done,” Posey said.

But forced labor happens, literally, everywhere, not just in sweatshops.

“Victims of trafficking can be anyone from around the world or next door,” said Eskinder Negash, director of the U.S. government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.

In the United States, the largest number of foreign adult and child victims of human trafficking for sex or labor came from Mexico, he said. Some are plainly visible as maids or busboys.

But, “I believe we will see a big focus from the administration on cleaning up supply chains,” he added.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees his office, is responsible for helping foreign victims of human trafficking found in the United States.

Potential victims have to learn about demand too, according to Jennifer Swain, program manager of anti-child sex trafficking initiatives at youthSpark, an Atlanta non-profit organization.

“Pimps will talk to your child longer than you will. They will listen to your child longer than you will … and they will begin to groom that child,” she said. That’s why education for kids and adults is part of her organization’s work.

The experts appeared during a panel discussion at the 2012 Global Peace Convention, an annual event that attracts activists and problem-solvers from a range of fields.

The convention is organized by the Global Peace Foundation. Foundation Chairman Preston Moon is chairman of the board of the ultimate holding company that owns United Press International.
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