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Obama Commits To Work Toward An End To Human Trafficking

Jonathan Stoller-Schoff |
September 29, 2012 | 5:35 p.m. PDT


Bill Clinton spoke at the Global Initiative. (Ed-meister, Creative Commons)
Bill Clinton spoke at the Global Initiative. (Ed-meister, Creative Commons)
The Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting took place earlier this week. It featured speakers like Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney and Madeleine Albright. President Obama also added his voice to the initiative this year.

In his speech, Obama took a stand against human trafficking. He said, “American tax dollars must never, ever, be used to support the trafficking of human beings. We will have a zero tolerance policy.”

The president announced a new executive order to back up his words. The order will ban U.S. agencies from conducting business with companies or nations that support human trafficking.

This was a monumental moment for Obama, as it represented a shift in U.S. foreign policy. Human trafficking is widespread. It is most prevalent in Southeastern Asia, where girls can be taken from their families and forced to work in brothels; if they refuse, they face harsh consequences. In Cambodia, 2,000 people are trafficked each year. Though the problem is mosly concentrated in other countries, the U.S. is not an exception - it is estimated that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked in the U.S. each year.

Human trafficking has been on the rise in the past few years, as a result of increased tourism and socioeconomic problems. It is a global problem which requires vast infrastructural changes to solve, since it is a global industry that has a firm grip on a large portion of the world's economy.

Obama's declaration speaks to his economic policies: the administration is taking the time it needs to fortify the future, rather than to inflate the economy for political gain. However, although taking a stand against human trafficking is admirable, the commitment to a zero tolerance policy is extreme. To end human trafficking, the socioeconomic infrastructure that depends on this forced labor must be completely altered, both here and abroad. As the president of the United States, Obama has the influence to work toward that goal, and by partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative, the world may take strides in this direction.

But only time will tell just how effective Obama's new policy will be in the world.


Learn more about human trafficking here.

Reach Contributor Jonathan Stoller-Schoff here.



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