May 14, 2014
Kidnapping of Nigerian Girls Reminder of Persistence of Slavery
by Robert Kropp
Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility call the kidnapping a tragic reminder
of the prevalence of human trafficking.
It's been a month since more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from their school by Boko
Haram, a rebel group designated as a terrorist organization by the US government in last November.
Although the kidnapping prompted international condemnation, the girls have yet to be rescued.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), whose members
have been on the forefront in engaging with corporations on issues relating to human trafficking,
issued a statement this week, “calling for the mobilization of all necessary resources and
expertise to help locate and free the missing girls.”
“This incident is a tragic reminder
to us all that forced sexual exploitation and trafficking are ongoing human rights violations that
occur every day and across the globe,” said Sister Kathleen Coll of CHE Trinity Health, an ICCR
member. “It is imperative that these school girls be found immediately and returned home safely.
But it is also imperative that we remain ever vigilant to the unseen risks of slavery, and that we
develop strategies that all stakeholders, including companies, can employ to expose and eliminate
The numbers reported by ICCR constitute a reminder that the relationship of the
human species to civilized behavior is marginal. As many as 30 million people are enslaved
worldwide, the organization states, and in the United States alone 100,000 girls are trafficked
into commercial sex operations every year.
For years, Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), another ICCR
member, has taken a leading in engaging with companies in the hospitality industry over human
trafficking at major international sporting events. Julie Tanner of CBIS said, “It is
heartbreaking that the exploitation of persons for sexual purposes and forced labor has become the
third largest illegal ‘business’ after drug and arms trafficking, and is estimated by the ILO to
generate $32 billion dollars annually.”
David Schilling, ICCR's Senior Program Director
for Human Rights and Resources, said, “Our hearts go out to the captured girls and their families
and we pray for their quick and safe return. Meanwhile, we must all remember that abolishing
trafficking and slavery is everyone’s responsibility and that we all have a role to play in ending
these egregious crimes.”
As a recent example off ICCR's advocacy on behalf of human
rights, the organization sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry this week, requesting that the State
Department downgrade Thailand to the of the worst offenders of human rights.
Government of Thailand does not meet the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection
Act, nor is it taking real steps to meet those standards,” ICCR stated.
“A report by
Reuters in December 2013 exposed Thai government officials profiting from human trafficking when it
uncovered they had sold Rohingya refugees to human traffickers,” ICCR continued. “The United
States should make very clear its concern about the systematic abuse of migrant workers in
Thailand, who produce products destined for the US market. If Thailand is allowed to continue its
practice of undertaking cosmetic efforts at addressing the issue of human trafficking while
ignoring or even encouraging the root causes of the problem, it will continue to get worse.”
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