The White House issued the president's statement at a meeting of the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
After citing President Lincoln's efforts on behalf of freedom, "We remain steadfast in our resolve to see that all men, women, and children have the opportunity to realize this greatest of gifts," Obama said. "Yet millions around the world -- including here in the United States -- toil under the boot of modern slavery. Mothers and fathers are forced to work in fields and factories against their will or in service to debts that can never be repaid. Sons and daughters are sold for sex, abducted as child soldiers, or coerced into involuntary labor. In dark corners of our world, and hidden in plain sight in our own communities, human beings are exploited for financial gain and subjected to unspeakable cruelty. "
The president said slavery "remains the affront to human dignity and stain on our collective conscience that it has always been. That is why members of my Cabinet and senior advisers gathered at the White House today, at a meeting chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to lay out their plans for meeting this challenge. The United States is committed to eradicating trafficking in persons, and we will draw on tools ranging from law enforcement and victim service provision, to public awareness building and diplomatic pressure. Because we know that government efforts are not enough, we are also increasing our partnerships with a broad coalition of local communities, faith-based and non-governmental organizations, schools, and businesses."
Obama said he was directing his Cabinet "to expand on partnerships with civil society and the private sector, so that we can bring more resources to bear in fighting this horrific injustice."
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