Wednesday, June 27, 2012
42,000 rescued from slavery last year
MEENA HART DUERSON
More than 42,000 people were found living in conditions of slavery around the world in 2011, but 20.9 million are still enslaved, according to a new report from the U.S. State Department.
The “Trafficking in Persons Report,” released in June, is based on data provided by governments around the world. The U.S. requires it as proof that they are working to combat slavery.
Anecdotes woven throughout the report offer a stark picture of the lives of millions of people stuck in modern-day slavery, forced into back-breaking labor and sexual exploitation.
Prostitutes come out of a tunnel where they remained hidden during an operation against human trafficking at the ‘Super Frontera’ bar, April 21, in Guatemala City. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
One girl, 13-year-old Maria Elena was brought across the border from Mexico to the U.S. with the promise that she would be able to earn 10 times as much money as she could at home. Instead, she was gang-raped and forced into prostitution, made to "have sex with up to 30 men a day." When she finally escaped, she was arrested along with her captors.
Her situation is not unusual for human trafficking victims, who "have typically been tricked, lied to, threatened, assaulted, raped or confined," according to the report. Fifty-five percent of slaves today are estimated to be women and girls.
Uta, a 7-year-old from Romania, was sent to the U.K. by her family to work as a domestic servant in an attempt to give her a life away from poverty. Instead, she was beaten and verbally abused by the family she went to work for. The same family also raped another man they had recruited.
By the time Uta was able to escape and get help from the police, she was "dressed in filthy clothes, had scabs covering her head, and her teeth were so rotten they had to be removed."
The couple was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
In some situations, even police intervention hasn't been enough to save these victims.
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