News/Asia: U.S. urges Asian nations to help end human trading

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Subject: News/Asia: U.S. urges Asian nations to help end human trading
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 08:04:08 EDT


            U.S. urges Asian nations to help end human trading

RTna 3-29-00 8:23 AM

     MANILA, March 29 (Reuters) - Crime syndicates buy more than a million
women and children annually for use as prostitutes or virtual slaves in
sweatshops across the globe, the United States said on Wednesday.
      "Trafficking (in human beings) is one of the fastest growing criminal
enterprises in the world," said U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
in a taped message to an Asian regional conference in Manila.
      "This cynical and shameless trade distorts our economies (and)
degrades our societies," she said.
      Ralph Boyce, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia
and the Pacific, told the 23-nation meeting that human trafficking had
become organised crime's third largest source of profits, after drugs and
guns.
      Boyce denounced the trafficking as "a modern day slavery" and said
only global and regional action could end it.
      A U.S. paper distributed at the meeting said the trade in human beings
"is growing rapidly" in Asia because the region's 1997-98 financial crisis
squeezed economic opportunities, as well as because few traffickers were
prosecuted.
      Conference organisers said the three-day meeting was the first
regional initiative to combat the trafficking of women and children which
brings crime syndicates billions of dollars in profits annually.
      MOST VICTIMS ARE ASIANS
      More than 250,000 of those annually driven to work in sub-human
conditions or forced into prostitution come from Southeast Asia, U.S. State
Department officials said.
      Another 150,000 to 200,000 come from the former Soviet Union and the
rest from South Asia and Latin America, they said.
      About 50,000 of the total end up in the United States.
      In Europe, women "are literally bought and sold anywhere from 15,000
to 30,000 dollars," Anita Botti, deputy director of a U.S. presidential
council on women, told a news conference.
      "In South Asia, the amount is somewhere between $6,000 to $10,000 (per
woman)," Botti said.
      Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said over 5.5 million
Filipinos now worked overseas, making this country the largest supplier of
manpower in the world, and many of them had fallen prey to abuses.
      "Legitimately recruited workers are promised high-paying jobs, but
find themselves working as prostitutes. Women travelling as tourists end up
as domestic helpers, dancers or bar girls," he said.
      "Pilgrims leave for religious shrines and later surface as bonded
labourers. In many marriages contracted within new religious programmes, or
through mail-order-bride arrangements, numerous would-be brides are duped."
      In some cases, children are sold and bought for pornography and
prostitution, or their internal organs removed for transplantation to other
people, he added.
      "Now is the time to go on the offensive," Siazon said.
      The conference broke up into workshops, and is due to announce its
action programme on Friday.
  REUTERS


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