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 them.”
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.”