Trafficking and Labor Reports Highlight Threats to Children's Futures


This is Robert Cohen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

Two separate reports offer new evidence for the problems facing children.

Last week the American State Department released its two-thousand-four Trafficking in Persons Report. This rates efforts by one-hundred-forty countries to fight slavery. Information comes from American embassies, human rights groups and non-governmental organizations.

The report divides the countries into three groups. The first two are countries believed to be working hard against trafficking or trying to improve. But the third group is nations believed to be making little or no effort. They could lose some American assistance or face other restrictions.

Ten nations are in this group. Burma, North Korea, Cuba and Sudan were also listed last year. This year the State Department added Bangladesh, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone. It also added Venezuela, Guyana and Ecuador.

Forty-two nations are on a special "watch list" of countries at risk of being given the lowest rating. One of them is Japan. The report says Japan could do much more to protect thousands of victims of sexual slavery linked to organized crime groups. Japan says it will do more.

Worldwide, the report estimates that each year as many as eight-hundred-thousand people are taken across national borders for trafficking. It also notes that some groups place the number far higher. Most victims are women and girls forced into sexual slavery. Men are often forced into labor. Boys generally become child soldiers.

Secretary of State Colin Powell says some countries have improved over the past year, including Turkey. It moved up from the lowest group to the watch list. Mister Powell said President Bush has promised fifty-million dollars more to fight international trafficking. This is above the seventy-million dollars budgeted for the past year.

On June twelfth the International Labor Organization released a report for World Day Against Child Labor. The United Nations agency says at least ten-million children are being forced to work as house cleaners. In most cases, they earn little or no money. They are trapped. The report says that often the children are beaten or forced to have sex. Most of the victims are girls, some as young as ten.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. This is Robert Cohen.