According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking at any one time. Yuri Fedotov, head of the UNODC, spoke at a special General Assembly meeting yesterday, and shared some other terrible realities: among those millions of people, only one out of 100 is ever rescued, and two out of every three victims are women.
Also at the meeting was Michelle Bachelet, head of UN women, an agency promoting women's rights and gender equality. She highlighted not only the "hideous and shocking" nature of human trafficking, but the fact that it is actually on the rise: "it is one of the fastest growing" crimes in the world today, with criminals running human trafficking networks earning more than US$32 billion.
Actress Mira Sorvino also spoke at the meeting, and compared "modern-day slavery" to the illegal drug and arms trades. "Transnational organized crime groups are adding humans to their product lists. Satellites reveal the same routes moving them as arms and drugs", she said. Despite the prevalence of the practice, however, she suggests that little money or political will is being used to combat human trafficking.
And the practice is a phenomenon around the world - including Canada. Today a father and son in Hamilton, Ontario were sentenced to nine years in prison for human trafficking. Ferenc Domotor and his son Ferenc Domotor, Jr. were convicted of recruiting 19 victims from Hungary and luring them to Canada, where they were forced to work without pay for a construction company, live in basements, eat table scraps and face threats of violence.
Mira Sorvino was in the red chair recently, and she spoke about human slavery, and what inspired her to become an activist on the subject: