The 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) was released yesterday by the US State Department. The TIP report exists to highlight the issue of modern day slavery and rank individual countries progress in combating the issue. The State Department places each country onto a tier. Each year, governments must meet the minimum standards of the Trafficking in Persons Protocol to gain the top tier status while those who rank on the bottom tier may suffer consequences such as the withholding of non-humanitarian and non-trade related foreign assistance.
The 2013 report focuses on victim identification as an essential first step to bring people out of the darkness of exploitation. The report sheds light on proper ways to identify victims and the challenges faced when countries fail to do so. Using a victim centered approach, victim identification begins with respecting a person’s rights, providing them with protection and helping them receive access to essential life saving services.
Here and around the world, trafficking in persons destroys lives. It threatens communities. It creates instability. It undermines the rule of law. And it is a horrendous assault on our most dearly held values of freedom and basic human dignity. We, along with every nation, bear the responsibility to confront modern slavery by punishing traffickers and helping survivors get their lives back on track.
Secretary of State, John F. Kerry
Girls and women are still the most disproportionately affected victims of human trafficking. In fact, according to the International Labor Organization, 98% of sex slaves are girls and women. Young girls and women are coerced and lured daily into forced prostitution. Girls and women remain the target of traffickers in countries where there is war, conflict and a high demand for commercial sex.
The report highlights TIP heroes who work tirelessly in the fight to end human trafficking. Secretary of State, John Kerry honored the TIP heroes at a press conference. Susan Ople, Founder and President of the Blas F Ople Foundation and Policy Center was honored for her effort to help distressed Filipino workers. Many men were also honored for their efforts to combat the issue.
In addition to development professionals, we must recognize that the heroes are young girls and women who have escaped the horrifying grip of being held captive. The TIP report places an emphasis on empowering those survivors to tell their stories and become advocates for change.