US government: Pandemic increased number of people vulnerable to human trafficking 

The State Department releases its Trafficking in Persons report each year. A senior State Department official told reporters Thursday the report is “the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic and diagnostic tool to guide relations with foreign governments on human trafficking,” and is the “world’s most comprehensive resource on governmental anti-trafficking efforts.” The 2021 report examined 188 countries and territories, including the United States.

Blinken said the report also examined state-sponsored human trafficking, including abuses committed by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs.

“Many detainees are subjected to physical violence, sexual abuse, and torture to induce them to work producing apparel, electronics, solar equipment, agricultural products,” he said. 

This year’s report, Blinken said, also “explicitly acknowledges the connection between systemic inequality and human trafficking.” 

“This is something many countries need to grapple with, including the United States,” Blinken said. “Part of doing right by our people means taking a hard look at the ways that our history and our policies have created the conditions for crimes like human trafficking, because traffickers prey on those who are vulnerable – those who are less likely to have access to good jobs or educational opportunities, who are less likely to be treated as equal by police or the justice system, and who are less likely to be believed when they report that they’re being targeted or abused.”

“If we’re serious about ending trafficking in persons, we must also work to root out systemic racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, and to build a more equitable society in every dimension,” he added. “These goals go hand in hand. So let’s keep that in mind as we work to build back better from the devastation of the pandemic.”