News/Meeting in Philippines: More than 1 million caught in modern-day...

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Subject: News/Meeting in Philippines: More than 1 million caught in modern-day...
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 08:56:56 EDT


          Officials: More than 1 million caught in modern-day...

APws 3-29-00 6:09 AM

The Associated Press.

By OLIVER TEVES
    MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- More than 1 million women and children are
being bought and sold around the world yearly in modern-day slavery so
lucrative and fast-growing that it competes with trafficking in firearms
and drugs, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
    "Trafficking in human beings is an urgent, increasing and devastating
problem, which we must recognize clearly and address firmly," U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in a videotaped message at the
opening in Manila of a regional conference on combating human trafficking
in Asia.
    "This cynical and shameless trade distorts our economies, degrades our
societies, endangers our neighborhoods, and robs many of our citizens of
their dreams, their dignity, and often their very lives," she said.
    During their three-day meeting, delegates from 16 Asia-Pacific nations,
Australia, Canada, Russia, United States and the European Union and 18
international organizations will try to craft a regional action program to
prevent trafficking, prosecute those involved and protect and help victims
return to society.
    The Asian Regional Initiative Against Trafficking in Women and Children
in meeting is being hosted by the U.S. and Philippine governments.
    Ralph Boyce, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and
Pacific affairs, said human trafficking is considered the "third largest
source of profits for organized crime" after guns and drugs.
    "It requires relatively little capital investment and the risks of
prosecution and severe punishment are still fairly low," Boyce said.
    Anita L. Botti, deputy director of the U.S. President's Interagency
Council on Women, said women are "literally bought and sold" in Europe for
up to dlrs 30,000.
    Botti said syndicates traffic about 250,000 women and children from
Southeast Asia and 150,000 to 200,000 from Russia annually.
    "The fact that we have modern-day slavery in the 21st century is defying
logic," Botti said.
    Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said the "cruel and inhuman"
practice is rooted in poverty, political instability, ignorance and
indifference.
    Trafficking is difficult to track down because it is camouflaged by
increasing migration that evade immigration rules and exploit the "personal
vulnerabilities" of victims.
    He said workers legitimately recruited for overseas work are promised
high-paying jobs but end up as prostitutes, while women tourists become
domestic helpers, dancers or bar girls, and religious pilgrims later become
bonded laborers. Mail-order bride schemes also mask trafficking, he added.
    Siazon said children are commercially exploited through adoption schemes
and many are bought and sold for pornography and prostitution. Some are
also sold for organ transplants, he said without giving details.
    He said more aggressive measures should be taken such as strengthening
inter-country adoption laws, mail-order bride rules and establishing
regional centers or networks that will help countries share information on
human trafficking, boost law enforcement and provide care for victims.


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