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Slave Trafficking Alive and Well in 21st Century

That’ll be 100 bucks.”
“Let’s make it 50, OK?”

“OK, anything else? You need just a worker? Or maybe something else, like companionship?”

“Maybe both.”

“OK. I have a 13-year-old. If you want, I got 11- or 12-year-olds available. I can make the [adoption] papers.”

This is what Benjamin Skinner, author of “A Crime So Monstrous,” said he experienced earlier this year in Port-Au-Prince, capital of Haiti. He was wandering along streets bustling with slave trade when a pimp approached him. The deal closed without a hitch.

In his contribution to the journal Foreign Policy, Skinner wrote how rampant human trafficking networks are around the globe, saying the world now is seeing the largest number of humans working as slaves in history.

With slavery getting more widespread, a slew of reports and books on the problem have put a most unlikely issue in the 21st century at the top of the world’s agenda.

are not the metaphorical expression that laborers in difficult industries use to refer to the toughness of their jobs. The term refers to more than 10 million people scattered worldwide forced to work without appropriate compensation or to repay inherited debt or at gunpoint.

According to the International Labor Organization, 12.3 million people labor under duress in the world, including an estimated 1.39 million women who work as sex slaves. In Haiti, for instance, 300,000 children are believed to work as virtual slaves. The ringleaders trick the children’s parents by promising free school and a better life for their kids. In reality, however, the young ones must sweat from dawn to midnight without proper compensation.

In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Skinner found an entire village shackled under debt. Grandparents and parents had borrowed money from loan sharks, and the debts and the skyrocketing interest were passed on to their descendents.

Last month, the Hwajeong Peace Foundation, an affiliate of the Dong-A Ilbo, and Korea University hosted the Asia Human Rights Forum. Kritsana Pimonsaengsuriya, regional officer for East Asia and Pacific of ECPAT International, said a huge number of children in East Asia work to repay family debts or are sold as sex slaves.

The vulnerability of North Korean defectors to human trafficking is now a rising worry for international human rights organizations.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill late last year demanding a tougher crackdown on the sale of North Korean defectors in China and more protection for them.

Ambassador Mark Lagon, director of the U.S. State Department`s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, told Radio Free Asia last month that Washington is worried over the trafficking of North Korean women in China, and indicated U.S. action on the matter.



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