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World makes progress against slavery, but 13 nations lag

The US State Department's annual report on modern-day slavery cites greater determination worldwide to stamp it out. But 13 nations are on the list of sluggards neglecting the issue.

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“People are more desperate, and are therefore willing to take more risks,” he says.

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A not-so-positive trend in this year’s report is a “feminization of trafficking,” with more women being involuntarily placed in domestic or “maid” work, either in their home countries or abroad. In other cases – as in a documented case in the United Arab Emirates – women are hoodwinked into accepting what they are told will be maid jobs in a foreign country, only to find themselves “prostituted out,” as CdeBaca says.

Cases of large-scale trafficking of men have fallen off, not so much as a result of better enforcement against the practice but because the global recession has curtailed the building boom in the Middle East and other regions, CdeBaca says. Fewer large development and infrastructure projects mean less need for armies of manual laborers.

The US report has high praise for Bosnia-Herzegovina, which it lauds for imposing stronger penalties for trafficking and for improving services for trafficking victims. On the other hand, the report slaps Switzerland with a “tier two,” or less-than-exemplary, rating, largely over Swiss law that in some cases allows 16- and 17-year-olds to legally engage in prostitution.

The report also honors nine antitrafficking heroes – individuals from countries as different as Mauritania and the United States who dedicate their lives to denting the practice of human trafficking in one of its forms.

The Mauritanian woman, Aminetou Mint Moctar, has worked to denounce the trafficking of Mauritanian girls to Persian Gulf nations. In Florida, Laura Germino coordinates the antislavery campaign of the coalition of Immokalee Workers, which for years has uncovered slavery operations in the agriculture sector in the southeastern US.