WASHINGTON, June 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery.
The 2012 Trafficking in Persons report was released Tuesday at a State Department event honoring men and women who are fighting against modern-day slavery, including forced labor, sexual exploitation and labor exploitation.
This year's trafficking report focuses on "proven practices and innovative approaches to protecting victims," Clinton said.
"These victims of modern slavery are women and men, girls and boys," Clinton said. "And their stories remind us of what kind of inhumane treatment we are still capable of as human beings."
The International Labor Organization this month released its second global estimate of forced labor. The report estimates 55 percent of forced labor victims are women and girls, as are 98 percent of sex trafficking victims. The Asia and Pacific region remains largest in terms of number of victims, though the estimate of trafficking victims in Africa has grown since the group's previous estimate in 2005.
The report said 29 countries have been upgraded to a higher status, which means they are taking the right steps to fight human trafficking, the State Department said.
"Ultimately, this report reminds us of the human cost of this crime. Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life. And our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it's getting a good job to send money home to support a family, trying to get an education for oneself or one's children, or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life," Clinton said.