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US Human Trafficking Report Calls Canada the ‘Transit and Destination’ for Sexual Slavery Trade

The US State Department has issued its 2007 report on human trafficking and has named four wealthy US Arab allies – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar – as among the worst offenders in failing to act to stop the international trade of human beings.

The report listed Canada as a “tier 1” country, one that complies with the minimum standards of combating the trade.

It describes Canada as “principally a transit and destination country” for women and children trafficked, mainly from Asia and Eastern Europe, for commercial sexual exploitation.

It noted “some Canadian girls and women are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation”.

The State Department estimates that as many as 800,000 people are trafficked over international borders for purposes of labor or sexual exploitation every year.

80 per cent of these are women and girls and as many as half of the total are minors.

Sexual exploitation of women and children, both boys and girls, is a prominent and universal feature of the report.

In addition to the four wealthy Arab countries, the report lists Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Malaysia Cuba, Iran, Myanmar (the former Burma), North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela, all either predominantly Islamic, communist or heavily socialist military states, in the bottom, third tier.

In total, 32 countries are named in the third tier.

Third tier countries face possible economic sanctions from the US including the loss of US aid and support for World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans.

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice described the trade as “a modern-day form of slavery.”

The proposed sanctions are meant to “shame” governments to action.

Condoleeza Rice writes, “The power of shame has stirred many to action and sparked unprecedented reforms.”

“The growing awareness has prompted important progress in combating this crime and assisting its victims wherever they are found,” Rice said.

The report points to the “globalization of markets” and “the concomitant relaxation of travel barriers” as major factors in the flourishing of the new slave trade on a global scale.

This globalization of slavery means that no country is immune.

It highlights Zambian girls trafficked to Ireland and Philippine women to Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican women to Montenegro, a Kenyan woman to Mexico and Chinese women to Afghanistan for commercial sexual exploitation.

The forms of slavery listed include child soldiers, involuntary domestic servitude and debt bondage, all of which involve sexual exploitation as a matter of course.

In the case of child soldiers, the report says, children are recruited mainly in Africa and Asia “through force, fraud, or coercion to be exploited for their labor or to be abused as sex slaves” by “government forces, paramilitary organizations, and rebel groups”.

“UNICEF estimates that more than 300,000 children under 18 are currently being exploited in more than 30 armed conflicts worldwide. While the majority of child soldiers are between the ages of 15 and 18, some are as young as 7 or 8 years of age.”

The report is punctuated by harrowing first-person descriptions given by women and girls taken from home and forced into sexual slavery.

In one, 17 year-old Maryam said she had “dreamed of a better future than her life in Kazakhstan.”

She was taken from her parents by a man who paid the equivalent of US $300 to take her to Russia to work as a shop girl.

When she arrived in Russia, she was detained in a locked cell with armed guards who told her she was to be a prostitute.

She said, “I refused by saying that they could do anything they want, but I wouldn’t be a prostitute. I was punished for that. I was beaten up, raped, and starved. In five days I gave up.”

Another, 23 year-old, Alexia from the Kyrgyz Republic, answered a newspaper advertisement for a Russian-speaking waitress in the United Arab Emirates.

She said, “When my plane landed, a man took me to an apartment where I met a dozen other women. I asked them if they all worked at the restaurant as waitresses.

They laughed and one said: ‘Restaurant? You’re not going to work at a restaurant! You’ll find out tonight where you are working! I was held in Dubai for six months and prostituted by the traffickers. I met a man from Moscow who helped me to escape to the Kyrgyz Embassy.'”

Read related coverage: Canada to Tighten Laws Against Sex Trafficking with Proposed Bill Blocking Stripper Visas

United States Urges Canada to Beef Up Anti-Trafficking Efforts Especially on Exotic Dancer Scandal

Young Women Forced into Prostitution in the UK – More Evidence that Prostitution Leads to Sex Slavery


[23July07, Hilary White, DC,]