The challenges of international trafficking were highlighted this week by the State Department’s annual release of trafficking figures, which estimated 12.3 million adults and children were trafficked in 2009, at a rate of 1.8 people per 1,000 worldwide, reports Women’s eNews. The Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 graded 175 nations on their efforts to combat all forms of human trafficking and found local officials were able to identify 49,105 victims of all types of trafficking, 59 percent more than in 2008.
The statistics were issued as Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, was pushing a bill to establish an international registry of known sex offenders to help foreign and U.S. law enforcement agencies crack down on underage sex tourism also linked to trafficking. “This is modern day slavery and it’s a winnable war,” Smith told Women’s eNews. The Smith bill, called the International Megan’s Law, was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 28 and could come up for a House vote in the next few weeks. While sex trafficking and awareness of it are on the rise, the appropriate responses are still a matter of controversy, particularly concerning the criminal treatment of prostitution.