Obama Administration Steps Up Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking
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President Obama recently declared that fighting human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time. In a speech delivered at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the President announced a number of concrete measures his administration is taking to help identify and protect victims, and prevent this crime in the U.S. and around the world.
President Obama speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative
According to ILO estimates, globally there are 5.5 million child victims of trafficking. President Obama condemned the practice, whether for forced labor or sexual exploitation, as ‘modern slavery.’ “When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed—that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family—girls my daughters’ age—runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists—that’s slavery.”
As the President renewed America’s commitment to combat trafficking, I was struck by how many of the policy initiatives he outlined echoed UNICEF’s approach to protecting children. “We’ll strengthen training, so investigators and law enforcement are even better equipped to take action—and treat victims as victims, not as criminals.”
In more than 150 countries around the world, UNICEF works with governments, NGO partners, and local communities to ensure that child victims of trafficking receive child-friendly care and support—as victims, and not criminals.
UNICEF is committed to addressing the underlying factors that push so many children and their families into situations of exploitation in the first place—something the President also stressed. UNICEF works to strengthen birth registration systems so children will not be shut out from health care services or denied an education. And by providing life skills and other training for children and their parents, UNICEF tries to make sure that families are able to support themselves so that they are less vulnerable to traffickers.
Finally, at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, we affirm President Obama’s call to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) and urge Congress to move forward quickly to approve this measure, which has been reauthorized three times previously by bipartisan majorities.
To find out more about the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s anti-trafficking initiative, visit our Child Trafficking page.