The last few days, D worked to support the visit of the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. In addition to ambassadors who are assigned to lead U.S. Missions overseas, the Department has several functional bureaus headed by Ambassadors-at-Large, which address cross-cutting issues that impact not just our foreign policy but also the world at large. Trafficking in persons encompasses everything from forced labor and involuntary domestic servitude to sex trafficking and child soldiers. It is estimated that there are 27 million people in the world who are victims of at least one form of human trafficking; in essence, these people are modern-day slaves.
Among many meetings with the Government of Kenya, NGOs, and social service organizations, the delegation met twice with representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Services. At the conclusion of the second meeting, the Ministry’s senior representative proudly brandished a signed copy of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act. The ink had barely dried on the signature, which bore yesterday’s date. The law had been passed in 2010 and for two years languished without being operationalized, lacking the Minister’s endorsement. Now, quite possibly as a result of these meetings, it’s been signed and will go into effect in October. It won’t solve Kenya’s human trafficking problems, but it will at least empower those combating these heinous crimes and give them a necessary tool to punish offenders.
One of the Ambassador’s messages, which resonated well with virtually every audience, was that trafficking in persons is a global problem, one that ought not be ignored by those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world, where modern slavery does not viscerally confront us on a daily basis. If you’re not convinced, take the survey at www.slaveryfootprint.org, which will help you measure your global slavery footprint as well as provide information about how you can help make a difference in the fight against modern slavery.