State Department: U.S. Needs To Better Track Human Trafficking Trends

Sec. of State Clinton released annual human trafficking report and signals that more work still to do.

Human Trafficking
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The State Department released a report Tuesday that estimates 27 million people worldwide are victims of slavery, be it sex trafficking, indentured servitude, bonded labor or forced military service.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the 2012 Trafficking In Persons Report Tuesday, which sheds light on international human trafficking worldwide from the United States to North Korea.

While the report ranks countries like North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as some of the most egregious offenders of human rights, it also offers a unique perspective into the United States' own problems regarding the problem.

"This report gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of us stand," Clinton said Tuesday. "It takes a hard look at every government in our world including our own...It is important that we hold ourselves to the same standard as everyone else."

The U.S. ranked as one of the most active in combating human trafficking, however, the report reveals the need for the U.S. to improve local, state and federal data collection techniques in order to monitor human trafficking trends.

Overall, the efforts of human trafficking advocates across the U.S. are helping combat the problem.

The Polaris Project, a non-profit focused on stopping human trafficking, reported last week that they received more than 19,000 phone calls in 2011 from people reporting instances of trafficking, wanting to learn more about the issue or requesting services for themselves.

"We received 64 percent more calls in 2011 than we did in 2010," says Mary Ellison, the director of policy for the Polaris project. "We are seeing the scope is still there."

All but one state in the U.S. has a statute against human trafficking and all 50 states have laws prohibiting underage prostitution.

In 2011, the Department of Justice and the FBI reached out to train more than 27,000 individuals on how to recognize and fight against trafficking in their communities.

The report also notes that last year, the government and advocacy groups helped more foreign victims attain T-visas, a non-immigrant status that allows victims to stay in the U.S. as they heal and access services than ever before.

In 2011, 557 foreigners and 722 family members took advantage of the visas, compared to the previous year's numbers of 447 and 349.

The report also offered insight into the growing need for more support victim funding, which has remained stagnant.

Clinton said that since her time as secretary of state, she has had a chance to meet with victims who are "living, breathing reminders that the work to eradicate slavery [has not ended.]"

Earlier this year Clinton traveled to Kolkata, India where she stopped at a trafficking shelter and had a chance to meet a 10-year-old victim, who performed a self-defense routine for her.

"As she performed her routine, I was impressed with the skills she had learned; but more than that, I was moved by the pride in her eyes – her sense of accomplishment and strength," Clinton said in the report.

Lauren Fox is a political reporter at U.S. News and Wold Report. Follow her on twitter  @foxreports or e-mail her at lfox@usnews.com.