Fourteen female foreign ministers this week wrote to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calling for an end to the trafficking of women and children worldwide.
“On the edge of the 21st century, it is unacceptable that human beings around the world are bought and sold into situations such as sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and debt bondage that are little different from slavery,” they said.
The ministers, hailing from the Bahamas, Barbados, Bulgarai, El Salvador, Finaland, Niger, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar. Mexico, Mongolia, South Africa, Sweden and the United States, thanked Annan for directing international attention to “this heinous practice.” They voiced their support for the proposed UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and the protocol on trafficking in persons.
While the UN has drawn particular attention to the trafficking of women in Asia and the Middle East, many thousands of women and girls are also trafficked to the United States each year. These women are kidnapped, sold by their families, tricked, or forced by unbearable poverty into prostitution, marriage, or servitude. They are forced to pay huge sums, up to $40,000, for their freedom upon reaching the US. Many turn to prostitution to pay off these debts.