Sunday April 2, 2000

U.S. calls for world fight against slavery

BANGKOK — The United States is calling for a global plan of action to combat the trafficking of women and children.

Officials say every year, at least one million women and children are victims of a trade worth billions of dollars to organized crime.

The United States is using a regional conference being held in the Philippines to push for global action against what officials are calling a modern-day slave trade. They say trafficking in women and children is now the third-largest source of income for organized crime — after the traffic in drugs and guns.

The victims are frequently enticed by offers of work overseas. Trapped in a strange country, owing money for their passage and lacking official documents, they are forced into working as prostitutes or in sweat shops.

American government statistics show that hundreds of thousands of such victims are bought and sold like slaves.

The collapse of the former Soviet Union, and the Asian economic crisis have both contributed to the problem: borders are easier to cross, and economic hardship has created more potential victims.

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Created: December 6, 2000
Last modified: December 6, 2000
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