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Video: Blinken Says Coronavirus Restrictions Increased the Risk of Human Trafficking

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Blinken Says Coronavirus Restrictions Increased the Risk of Human Trafficking

The State Department released a report which assessed cases of reported human trafficking and exploitation between April 2020 and March 2021. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken warned that some countries were not doing enough to stop human trafficking.

The estimate we often cite is that nearly 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Many are compelled into commercial sex work. Many are forced to work in factories or fields or to join armed groups. Millions of trafficking victims are children. This crime is an affront to human rights. It’s an affront to human dignity. We also report on what’s happening in Xinjiang, in the autonomous region of China. The Chinese government has detained more than one million people in as many as 1,200 state-run internment camps throughout Xinjiang. Many detainees are subjected to physical violence, sexual abuse and torture to induce them to work, producing apparel, electronics, solar equipment, agricultural products. And while the practices are the most egregious in Xinjiang, this year’s report notes that China has subjected its citizens to coercive labor practices in other parts of the country as well. Human traffickers seized the opportunity to grow their operations. People who are pushed into dire economic circumstances by the pandemic became more vulnerable to exploitation. And as more people spent hours online for school and work, traffickers used the internet to groom and recruit potential victims. So we must do everything we can as a country, but also as a global community to stop trafficking wherever it occurs.

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