Human trafficking on agenda for U.S. vice president's trip to Moldova, Russia
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden plans to address the issue of human trafficking on his visit to Moldova and Russia next week, a White House official said Friday.
"That is a subject I am quite certain he will bring up," said U.S. National Security Advisor to the Vice President Tony Blinken.
"It's an issue that this administration is very focused on, has deep concerns about and is something that we bring up when relevant wherever we go, so I expect it will be on his agenda," he said on a conference call with reporters Friday, in response to a question from Xinhua.
Blinken declined to provide specifics, saying only that the details of the discussions will be divulged after Biden's trip.
According to the U.S. State Department, human trafficking is an umbrella term used when one person obtains or holds another person and forces them to perform some sort of service -- most often forced prostitution or forced labor.
According to the 2010 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report, Moldova is a source country and at times a destination and transit country for people subject to forced labor and forced prostitution, while Russia is a source, transit and destination country for such individuals.
The issue poses a problem on virtually every continent. Recruiters often target women and girls from the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder, luring them with promises of jobs abroad in a bid to force them into sexual slavery.
Once arriving at their destination, which can be overseas or within their nation of origin, victims are held against their will and forced to provide sexual services for several clients per day, for which they receive no pay, according to various sources.
Resistance can result in severe beatings and other types of torture, and pimps and traffickers use threats against victims' families to prevent them from escaping.
Victims can also be enslaved as laborers, working grueling hours in harsh conditions for no pay and often under the threat of violence.
Forced labor cases have been seen in nations worldwide, including the United States, which is a source, transit and destination country for people subject to forced labor and forced prostitution, the report said.
In one recent case, hundreds of Thai citizens were forced to work without pay on farms in several U.S. states, according to U.S. news reports.