Mira Sorvino addressed a United Nations General Assembly meeting this week, urging UN member states to prevent human trafficking and protect its 2.4 million victims.
“Modern day slavery is bested only by the illegal drug trade for profitability,” she said. “Transnational organized crime groups are adding humans to their product lists. Satellites reveal the same routes moving them as arms and drugs.”
The actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador went on to say that only 10% of police stations have any protocol to deal with the problem, and urged for stronger legislation and better police training.
“Where traffickers use threats and weapons, we must respond with laws and prosecutions,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during the meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York, entitled “Fighting Human Trafficking: Partnership and Innovation to End Violence Against Women.”
At any given time across the globe, some 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which adds that the crime generates $32 billion annually, rivalling the profits reaped by the illicit trade in arms and drugs. Every year, thousands of people fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad, with women comprise two thirds of trafficking victims.
In his remarks, Mr. Ban emphasized that countries need to tackle the broad factors that lead to human trafficking, such as extreme poverty, which forces families to sell their children to traffickers. He also noted that migration is also closely linked to this issue, requiring States to take action on relevant policies.
“Women are lured out of their homes and countries with false promises. They are stripped of their passports, their dignity and their personal security,” Mr. Ban said. “To protect people from such exploitation, countries have to coordinate their labour and migration policies.”
Mr. Ban called on countries to adhere to the treaties that aim to stop human trafficking, in particular the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; and stressed that resources would be needed to tackle the problem.
“I welcome this dialogue’s focus on closing the gap between commitments and actions. Far too many women and girls fall through the cracks and land in the unscrupulous arms of traffickers,” Mr. Ban said. “But I have to be clear. It will take resources to build a bridge from words to deeds.”
He encouraged all those in attendance to contribute to the UN Trust Fund on Human Trafficking, which provides humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking through a range of avenues, including governmental, inter-governmental and civil society organizations.