US lawmaker presses China, India over human trafficking
By Alex Ogle (AFP) – 2 days ago
WASHINGTON — A leading US lawmaker on Thursday urged President Barack
Obama's administration to ratchet up pressure on China and India over
sex-trafficking and modern day slavery that flourishes in both
Congressman Christopher Smith, who led the charge for the landmark
2000 law Trafficking Victims Protection Act, said the two Asian giants
were among the world's worst offenders in their disregard for forced
bondage and sexual exploitation.
At a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Smith urged
the State Department's office dedicated to combating human trafficking
to undertake a "comprehensive reassessment" of China and India.
He cited in particular Beijing's failure to prevent rampant
trafficking of North Korean refugees.
The countries risk being downgraded in the State Department's annual
"Trafficking in Persons" blacklist, and could face sanctions including
withholding non-humanitarian, non-trade related US aid, he said.
Smith said the problem with trafficking in China has become
particularly acute because of the country's "one child" law that has
led to a shortage of marriageable women and created "a colossal market
for bride selling."
Chinese demographers forecast that by 2020 some 40 million Chinese men
will not be able to find women to marry, Smith said, calling the one
child policy "barbaric."
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has made women's and
children's rights a signature issue, in June called human trafficking
a "terrible crime" as she unveiled a US report on the subject.
China and India were listed on the report's "tier two watch list," for
countries making "significant efforts to bring themselves into
compliance with minimum standards" on trafficking.
Lawmakers said however that they risk being regulated to the report's
bottom rung, alongside long-time violators North Korea and Burma.
As Congress prepares to take up a reauthorization bill to update the
2000 law for the next decade, the committee's chair Howard Berman said
huge challenges remain to combat the 32-billion-dollar-a-year industry
that sees humans "reduced to machines for production or pleasure."
Of the world's estimated 27 million modern day slaves, two thirds are
in India chiefly in bonded labor, the committee heard in testimony.
Smith slammed New Dehli's action on the issue as "not even remotely
commensurate with the size of its current problem."
The number of prosecutions for sex industry traffickers have risen
nominally in some Indian states, said advocate Beryl Ann D'Souza, who
heads anti-human trafficking efforts in India for the Dalit Freedom
Even with laws on the books, D'Souza said the sub-continent's approach
needs comprehensive overhaul, as only seven percent of India's police
force have received any type of anti-trafficking training.
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