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At a glance: United States of America

UNICEF Ambassador Lucy Liu raises awareness of child trafficking

© USAID/2009
US Fund for UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu speaks out against child trafficking at a symposium organized by the US Agency for International Development in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON DC, 18 September 2009 – US Fund for UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lucy Liu delivered an impassioned speech here this week to raise awareness about the estimated 1.2 million children who are trafficked worldwide every year.

The internationally acclaimed actress and humanitarian activist spoke at a symposium organized by the US Agency for International Development on 16 September.

Ms. Liu has become increasingly involved in efforts to end child trafficking since her appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2004. She recently produced a documentary film, ‘Red Light’, which focuses on the issue of trafficking in Cambodia.

Effects on women and girls
At the USAID event, Ms. Liu described girls’ experience of being trafficked, both globally and in the United States.

“With no options and not enough protection,” she said, “the world’s poorest children are being recruited more and more into a gruesome array of practices that include trafficking for sex, soldiering, begging, scavenging, working in factories and on farms, and domestic servitude.”

As Ms. Liu pointed out, the most common form of human trafficking, by far, is for sexual exploitation, whose victims are predominantly women and girls. Trafficking for forced labour is the next most common form.

Creating a ‘protective environment’
Other speakers at the trafficking symposium included USAID Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham, Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Luis CdeBaca and Carlson Companies CEO Marilyn Carlson Nelson.

The participants noted that statistics on trafficking are difficult to gather and often unreliable. Children trafficked into domestic work, for example, are hard to document because servitude in private homes is often hidden from public view and unregulated.

UNICEF’s efforts to protect children from trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse focus on creating a ‘protective environment’ for them. In such an environment, people at all levels of society work to enforce protective laws. They also educate children, educators and social service providers about how to prevent and respond to abuse, and challenge discrimination.

“I truly believe there is hope,” said Ms. Liu. “I believe this because of devoted workers and individuals around the world in organizations like UNICEF and USAID.”



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