United States seeks help in fighting international slavery

Nancy Hall - Staff Writer

U.S. officials are asking that other countries aid them in ending slavery in countries around the world.
The concept of slavery may seem long gone to the people of the United States. However, this practice is still prevalent in some societies around the world. Most victims of this practice today are the women and children of Southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union.
Two years ago, the State Department created an office to monitor the trafficking of humans in an effort to fight international slavery. Heading this department is Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel, who has been looking into some statistics.
Ely-Raphel found that 700,000 to four million people are bought and sold each year (50,000 of which are in the United States). These people are forced to work as laborers or as prostitutes, and comprise a $7 billion dollar industry.
The office headed by Ely-Raphel issues an annual report of countries that are making an effort to stop this trafficking.
Beginning in 2003, any countries that do not attempt to curb this situation will face U.S. sanctions. As a result, many countries are now taking notice of the growing trend of slavery.
The United States is making its own efforts as well. Education programs have been initiated, as well as protection services for victims and prosecution of the traffickers. Anyone convicted of trafficking in the U.S. will face a sentence of ten years to life in jail.