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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Secretary's Open Forum > Proceedings > 2003

LILYA 4-EVER: A Film by Lukas Moodysson Examining the Tragic Realities and Horrors of Trafficking in Humans

Presentation at the Secretary's Open Forum, Washington, DC
June 27, 2003

The views and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Administration views or policy.

Opening Remarks and Introduction

Panel Moderator
John R. Miller, Special Adviser to the Secretary and Director, Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons

Panel Participants
Laura Lederer, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs U.S. Department of State
Donna Hughes, Professor, University of Rhode Island

MR. MILLER:
  Thank you. Can you hear me? Thank you, Bill. I'm not sure after a movie like that anybody feels like talking. And those that don't feel like talking don't have to talk. I am John Miller, and I'm a former Congressman. I was sworn in this past March to head up the State Department's effort on trafficking in persons.

The two people on my left have been involved in this issue a lot longer than I have. Laura Lederer and Donna Hughes have been toiling in the vineyards for years on this issue. Both of them played a key role in passage of legislation of which Congressman Smith was the lead sponsor, the Trafficking Victim Protection Act, which was passed several years ago.

When you see a movie like that, it makes one realize that this is not just about offices and reports, which our Department just put out, the Secretary just issued. It's not about laws; it's not about documents. It is about people, and it is about victims. Our latest estimate are there are 800,000 to 900,000 victims trafficked annually across international borders--that doesn't include those internally trafficked--and 18,000 to 20,000 across the U.S. borders.

But the story, in many cases, is similar to this story. We deal with not just sex slavery victims but forced labor victims and victims of religious or color slavery. But the sex slavery story, for those of you who have worked in this field, you know that the story which we saw on the screen is repeated many times. The deception, the seizing of the passport, the beatings, the rapes, the destruction of bodies and souls.

I think at this point I am going to ask Laura and Donna Hughes, Dr. Lederer, to make any brief comments, or not so brief, that you want to make, and then we will ask those of you in the audience who have something you would like to say about the movie and the issues it poses to please do so, move to the microphones. But why don't we turn first to Laura.

MS. LEDERER:  Thanks, John. I actually didn't prepare anything for this. I don't see this as a panel discussion. I see this as a time that we can talk about what we've seen. And I know that many of you are working on the issue of trafficking in your various departments and agencies. So I hope this can be a time that we can exchange ideas and think a little bit creatively about how to continue to address and eradicate trafficking.

I think I am most interested--as John said, this is a story that is repeated in variations all across the world, and I am most interested in this triangle of activity that is very similar to drug trafficking--the supply, demand, and distribution. The supply being the women and children, the demand the customer, and the distribution the recruiters, harborers, the buyers, the sellers, the transporters--we saw a few of those. We saw a small operation here. There are often very large and very sophisticated operations. I am interested in how this works and in the places that we can intervene in this triangle I think the filmmaker tried to show.

One place where Lilya says to herself, "I could have, if I had done this differently I could have said no." But there are many, many other places along that pipeline of activity where there were chances to intervene I am interested in.

MR. MILLER:  Thank you, Laura. Donna?

MS. HUGHES:  I saw this film for the first time a couple of weeks ago when I was in Moscow, and I had the opportunity to see it with a group of people who are doing active anti-trafficking work and prevention and awareness and assistance with victims. Then on my way home I got on the plane, and I was seated next to a 15-year-old girl who was traveling alone. She needed my help to buckle and adjust the seat belt. She didn't know how to do it. As I talked to her--she had a little English, not a lot, but a little English--she explained to me that, like Lilya in the film, her mother was a mail-order bride, and had gone off to the United States to marry a man and left her in Moscow with an aunt. I'll tell you, I didn't know what to do. I was--I sat there and just literally shook at hearing what was happening to this 15-year-old girl sitting beside me. She was coming to the United States for the summer, but she already had a ticket back to Moscow in August to stay with her aunt.

I asked her if she had ever met the man that her mother had married, and she said, "Only for a week when he came and stayed at our flat, and then my mother left with him." I just found that so incredibly chilling.

One of the things that I've read and heard other people say is how much people are really angry with Lilya's mother for abandoning her, and I certainly am not going to try to defend her. But if you'll remember at the beginning of the film it said that she had--she was a mail-order bride, also. If you'll remember, she said she had met this man through a marriage agency. And as I was talking to some people in Moscow after that, they said, "Well, she trafficked, also?" Is that one of the reasons Lilya had never heard from her again? And that is the part of the story that, of course, is completely unexplored in that.

On a more positive note, this film was shown at the Moscow City Duma a couple of weeks ago, and I was there, and it had a profound impact, I believe, on the Duma deputies as well. They looked pretty much the way you look right now at the end of the film, too. And there had been some proposals to legalize prostitution in Moscow, but after watching this film I sat there and heard them go around the table, and every one of them vowed that they would not legalize prostitution, and that they had to make sure they got more services to children in the city of Moscow so that this doesn't happen to more and more of their children.

So in some ways I see this film as being very positive--as having that kind of profound impact on people. I also should mention that the Swedish Government is making this film available for free to all the NGOs in Russia, so long as they use it for educational purposes. So I think that we can hope that this film is going to educate a lot of people and make them much more aware.

MR. MILLER:  Thank you. Would anybody like to make a comment? I don't know, Bill, do they need to use the microphone, or are the acoustics such that people can be heard from where they are?

MR. KEPPLER:  We prefer that you use the microphone. [Off mike.]

And just to get the ball rolling, if you don't mind I'd like to ask the first question. One of the questions I had when I viewed the film—Lilya, obviously, didn't get into this life because of the glamour or she was looking for pocket money; it was out of economic desperation and depravity. The problem is if you do address and resolve the problem of childhood prostitution, what is the economic alternative for people like Lilya? I think that has to be addressed simultaneously with the horrendous issue of preventing the trafficking in persons. I'd like to have your comments.

MR. MILLER:  Well, one of the things that I've realized in the last several months is when you look at this issue worldwide, there is no question that economics are an important factor--in some cases maybe the most important factor--but not the only factor. And, as a result, when we talk about prevention and education programs, economic alternatives can play a role, but I think there has to be more. For example, in Russia an organization that has worked with victims, MiraMed, set up a hotline for people to call if they were considering offers to go abroad for vague jobs--travel agencies, whatever. And to the surprise of the people who operated the hotline--they did a survey--over half the people who were seriously considering going on these jaunts had college degrees or jobs.

In Nigeria, there was a study done--of course, Nigeria is an impoverished country by our standards, but the girls and women that were most likely to be trafficked to Italy were not necessarily from the poorest villages; they were from villages with television. So economics is a driving force, but in many cases the individuals involved believed or deceived into thinking they are bettering themselves. And even in this movie the economic conditions in which Lilya lived were miserable. Yet along the way, despite the poor economics, if the mother had shown a little more caring, or the aunt had shown a little more caring, maybe this wouldn't have happened. I guess that's all about saying we're going to have work on a lot of fronts to combat this.

MS. HUGHES:  One of the things that I think is good about this film is that it shows--it shows how someone loses support, loses their options bit by bit, and that as Lilya started off into a downward spiral. And one of the things about Lilya--and I think about a lot of women, and actually it takes some spunk for them to say, "I think I'm going to try. I'm going to take a risk, and I am going to try to go abroad." When you see the kind of downward spiral that she was in, it's easy to understand then how someone would take such a risk to do that on a vague offer.

But I think that there has to be a lot more emphasis on the criminals because, of course, what was done to her was a horribly criminal activity over and over and over again. And I think that we have to realize that no matter how poor she would have become where she was living, it took the criminals and criminal activity to do to her what they did. I feel very strongly that we have to have enforcement, we have to have good laws, and we have to have enforcement of those laws.

MR. MILLER:  Some other comments? They don't have to be questions. Some of you have worked or as knowledgeable in this field as we are, and if you just want to make a comment, that's fine too.

Q:  Hi.

MR. MILLER:  Why don't you identify yourself?

Q:  Sure. I was going to do that. My name is Bibiana Sovero-Bortacho (ph). And, in fact, thank you, Dr. Hughes, for all the information you e-mailed me. I was working on a paper on the Ukrainian situation, and I have come all the way from Rochester, NY to make it here, because it's very important to me, and I am hoping to make it my life's work.

My question is the following: Obviously, it's getting more attention; people are becoming more aware of what's going on. I'm just wondering in the law enforcement areas, such as Customs, U.S. Customs, and when people are coming in, is there more training being addressed so that those people that are responsible for checking documents are aware of whether these documents are forged or not, or the immigration officers, are they looking at that? Are they keeping an eye open for young kids traveling alone? I mean, you also hear of situations in Britain where a lot of young kids from Africa are being brought into the country as part of a basketball team or soccer team. I'm just wondering. Obviously, the awareness is getting out there. In the law enforcement community, let's say the U.S., what steps are being taken to address this?

MS. LEDERER:  Well, I'll start by saying I think that's a very good question. In many cases, if we were more vigilant in terms of the Customs, Border Patrol, the kinds of questions we ask, looking carefully at documents, we could uncover those criminal activities. And that's what I'm talking about when I say what are the points of intervention.

But I also think that the organized criminal activity is becoming much more sophisticated so that you see that they had passports there. They had put her picture into someone else's--on someone else's name. And so that unless there is clear training and unless there are places where we know we can intervene, I think we are going to have more and more trouble finding the young women, the children, as they are being trafficked.

MS. HUGHES:  I would just add that the one piece of that, bringing that up points out the role of corruption, and official corruption, in this, and that is I think almost every step of the way there is often a corrupt official, especially in how the traffickers acquire documents.

MR. MILLER:  I don't--I can't give a direct answer to the question. Our office has been focusing on governments abroad. I don't know if anybody is here -- is anybody here from the Justice Department? I know that there are plans underway that the Justice Department has come up with a strategic implementation plan, and it does call for more training of law enforcement officials. But I do not know what stage that is in. Sorry. Go ahead. Welcome.

Q:  A comment and a question.

MR. MILLER:  Why don't you identify yourself?

Q:  Claudia Barlowe (ph). I was with a couple of young women from the Norwegian Embassy a couple weeks ago, and they were well familiar with this film. I'd ask if other young women in Scandinavian countries had seen this, and they said, "Oh, yes." And then it occurred to me: Are there any plans for this film to be shown elsewhere within the State Department or within our embassies so that our embassies are well prepared for this kind of occurrence, and they are moved by it? Because like you mentioned, papers alone don't move you. This does.

And then another piece, concerning the Justice Department. Internally, we think that after watching this film, "Oh, that's somebody else's problem--it doesn't happen here. Well, I myself was like Donna, coming down I-95 after a lovely vacation in the Hamptons, stopped at a rest-stop in New Jersey, grabbed a burger, and was standing behind two very large Russian gentlemen and two very skinny women. And they couldn't speak English. I tried to grab their eyes. And because I'm well-aware of this circumstance of internal trafficking, I thought, what am I to do? Can I make a citizen's arrest? I don't think so. And these girls, obviously, were not well cared for, and they looked straight at his eyes and did not--I could not get their attention. And they--I followed them to their car, figuring somehow they are going to feel a little something from the fact that I'm looking at them. And, in fact, they sped away, and I thought, that's easy. Nobody ever looks at you at a rest stop. You get a burger, you run, you go to your destination. And I am thinking, how many rest stops up and down I-95 are people getting burgers for victims like this?

The big Russian gentleman knew very good English. He had a wad of money in his pocket. They were all large bills. And he tried to get me on another subject rather than talking to these young women. But, like Donna, here I was, at an opportune time to do something, and I had no options, as smart and well-witted as I am about this subject. There have got to be options for Americans to intervene, just like they did on 9/11, because these are terrorist acts on humanity, and we have got to do something about it.

MR. MILLER:  Claudia, good comments. And your first suggestion I think we have to look into. I think it would be wonderful if this movie could be shown in all our embassies, because for the annual report that we put out we depend a good deal on information from our embassies. I think if people in the embassies saw this movie it could have an inspiring effect. And showing this movie at home to law enforcement and health and human services agencies, I think this is definitely something to see if we can explore. I don't know if the makers of the film--

MR. KEPPLER:  Our Office of Public Affairs is looking into getting licensing agreement—[off mike].

Q:  I'm Joyce Butler (ph) with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. This film presents us with a set of facts. If we suppose that instead of being trafficked to Sweden the young woman was trafficked to the United States, under the laws which we now have, I am interested in how that law would have been able to respond to her situation and how it would have been classified. As I understand the law, it sets up two categories: severe trafficking and then nonsevere trafficking, which by implication may involve the consent of the victim. I just would like very much if you would comment on your understanding of how our law would address the set of facts that we are presented, including different viewpoints from which these facts might be viewed under the present law.

MR. MILLER:  Sure, good question. I am going to answer the question. First I'm going to ask is David Sullivan here? He's the State Department lawyer who advises us. Well, he isn't, so I am going to answer. I think our law would apply in many ways. First of all, under our law it's severe trafficking if it involves a minor, because under our law a minor can't give consent. So the people involved in dealing with Lilya clearly are criminal under our law and would be subject to indictment and prosecution.

But even if Lilya was not a minor--let's say she was 19 instead of 13--and at that point, yes, the issue of force, or broad deception comes in--I think the law still applies. I don't think there's any doubt in my mind it applies. And the reason is even at the initial stages deception was used. But even if you were to argue, well, that she consented in Russia, even if you were to make that argument, she was the victim of force in Sweden. She was held in slave-like conditions. She could not leave. She was locked in. Under our Trafficking Victim Protections Act, absolutely, she would qualify for assistance as a victim. She would be eligible for assistance. And the people who were involved in trafficking her--well, we saw one man in Sweden--would be subject to indictment.

Now, in Sweden--I'll just throw in an interesting other aside--in Sweden they'd also be subject to indictment. But, in addition, in Sweden under their new law, the quote, "customers," unquote, would be subject to criminal prosecution. And that varies in the United States. But go ahead, Laura and Donna, I know you want to comment on that.

MS. LEDERER:  I think you're getting at the voluntary versus involuntary argument. And that's been a false argument all along in trafficking, because it isn't whether the young woman in this case--because John is right for a child it's per se trafficking--it isn't whether she went voluntarily or not. It's what happens to her along that pipeline of activity. And if anywhere along that pipeline, regardless of whether she went voluntarily or consented, she was under force, fraud, coercion--any kind of violence which clearly happened to Lilya here--then she's a trafficking victim. So it's a false question, did she decide to go on her own or not. It doesn't apply.

And I think the other interesting thing about the United States is that in every State of the United States we have laws that address prostitution, which is part of the reason--it's not all of the reason, but it's part of the reason that our law on trafficking is written the way it is, because even though we don't have a federal law on prostitution, we have State-generated laws that address the noncoercive types of activity. And the legislators thought it was important to get at this activity that is a growing phenomenon.

Q:  My name is Mark Frowche (ph), and this has been my education about this subject.

MR. MILLER:  Good.

Q:  I have a question and a comment. My comment is that I imagine that one of the many steps along the way where an intervention or a difference could have been made was after Lilya was accused of being a prostitute before in fact she was a prostitute. And I can only imagine, but I imagine that at some point one has an internal conversation that goes something like, "Well, everybody already thinks it, so what difference does it make if I in fact become that?" And so working with the whole dynamic by which we make women wrong for that, you know, that whole--I don't have a word for it, but that whole condemning, that one of the side effects is the hit on your self-esteem that comes from that makes--I imagine makes you more vulnerable for this.

I said I had a question. I can barely remember it. What I often find when I learn about something for the first time, particularly when it's in a movie, that when you see the documentary, or if you see the movie, if you will, that the story that is in the movie is actually the Cadillac of slavery experience, if you like, whereas in the real world it's even worse. And I haven't read any of these studies, but I wanted to know does this represent a typical behavior, or is--are there some people for whom this would have been a comparatively good experience?

MS. LEDERER:  I'll just answer the last part first, and then, Donna, you can go back. I know that the filmmaker has said that he wanted this film to be able to be viewed by as many people as possible. He wanted young college students to be able to see it, seniors in high school to be able to see it. And he wanted--so he was gentle, he said, in his portrayal of what was happening. I think you are exactly right, that we are seeing the tip of iceberg in terms of what this is really all about. And that was really, really hard to watch, just that tip of the iceberg. So you can imagine what the realities are like.

MS. HUGHES:  Yeah, you are absolutely right about what happens to women--or girls--once they are labeled as any kind of a word that is associated with prostitute. And if we think about for the English language it's like the worst things you can call a woman are usually connected to that. And I think many women, whether they are trafficked or not, once they are in prostitution for any length of time find it very difficult to get out for many, many reasons--everything from the criminal pimps who are controlling them, the addictions they may acquire, to how they view themselves, how they come to, or how they are made to view themselves and how society views them.

I interviewed a woman in prostitution in Ukraine, and she a couple years before had an 18-month-old son who needed a $40 operation, and she only made $30 a month working in a cafe. She did not have $40. So she said she walked around and around until she ran into some of her old friends from school who were working on the street, and they told her that she could make $40 in one night. And so she said, "For my son I did it." But there she was a couple years later. And I said, "Well, what happened?" And she said, "Well, once you do something like this in this town, everyone knows who you are. You can't get out."

MR. MILLER:  I just want to add one thing, when you talked about is this the Cadillac version--one way this movie could have been even worse, and it would have been a perfectly usual occurrence if Lilya had come down with HIV/AIDS, which is prostitution, trafficking, HIV/AIDS. I mean, there's--go ahead.

MS. HUGHES:  I just wanted to add, to follow up on that, for those of you have just seen this film, I mean I hate to tell you this was the light ending, but I think if you think about how the filmmaker, how he had to deal with this subject, if he would have followed what really happens to most trafficking victims, as you said, all through the way, through a death from HIV/AIDS, he sort of let us off easy by having her commit suicide.

Q:  Hi, my name John Ponerman (ph), and I, too, confess to an embarrassing level of ignorance on this subject. But my question was let's assume Lilya had gone to the police. What were her options? What would happen to her? Not only in Sweden, but does the EU have a standard where they address this issue?

MS. LEDERER:  Well, I think the threat that the trafficker made to Lilya, saying, "If you go to the police they will deport you, and my colleagues on the other end will be there for you" is a real threat. I do think that--again, this goes back to your question about training. Law enforcement at all levels, and especially on the street and on the borders where they are going to be on the front lines of really having to recognize trafficking victims, need to know what a trafficking victim looks like and need to know what to ask. "Were you raped? Were you drugged? Do you have your passport? Can you move freely?"--all of those kinds of questions that would have been--there are a series of about 10 or 15 questions that can give you an idea of whether you have a potential trafficking victim on your hands or not. And we need to do that at every level of law enforcement. And that's a huge job. In the United States we have 18 federal agencies dealing with trafficking. Then you can imagine the State and local agencies. So we have got an enormous job ahead of usI think every country has that same job ahead of them.

MR. MILLER:  I just wanted to say one more thing on that. Yes, they threatened. The threat was if you go to the police, they'll deport you. Now one of the key things that if we are going to be serious about trafficking we have to do, is to make sure that the police, in whatever country, do not respond just by deporting. There has to be care for the victim. And if we are going to be serious about law enforcement, the victim has to be encouraged to prosecute. The law in the United States provides that. Is it fully carried out? Does it take full effect? I doubt it. But the purpose is stated in the law, that that’s what should happen.

And in many countries--in many countries there is not that purpose at all. In many countries the threat that was made in the movie was real--that the victims are just deported. That's how they deal with the issue.

Q:  I think I was next.

MR. MILLER:  Oh, I'm sorry. I apologize. Have you been over there? I've been looking at this microphone. Please, go ahead.

Q:  I also don't know a whole lot about trafficking, but as I was watching this I was imagining that the more typical endings might be a lot more complicated. And my question is: What are some other endings? What do the traffickers do when these girls become HIV-positive, or pregnant, or are just so beaten down that they are no longer marketable or so forth? Do they dump them on the street? Are they sent to work camps? Do they go to a--you know, what happens in other situations?

MR. MILLER:  Good question. Donna, do you want to take a crack at that?

Q:  Or do we even know?

MS. HUGHES:  I don't think we know the whole answer. I don't think we know what happens to all the trafficking victims. We know that some of them eventually accommodate themselves to the situation. In India in some places where children are trafficked they really accommodate themselves to the situation and simply live in red-light districts for the rest of their lives, because they can't leave.

We know that many develop HIV and, of course, eventually AIDS, and die. We know that a significant portion of them will eventually become mentally disturbed, mentally ill and, for example, we even saw that in the film with Lilya where she made the little hut and crawled under and starting talking as if she were a child. In some ways, there's a lot of very sophisticated stuff in this film, because it was actually showing her psychologically regressing, which is a way of coping with trauma. There's a number of victims that come back to Russia that we know that they are simply institutionalized because they are considered insane, and no one knows how to help them.

Oh, yeah, of course, drug addiction, because when you are being traumatized in that way, if there is any way you can get drugs, alcohol, even glue, as the boy was using--anything that will help you numb the pain will be used, and eventually those become addictions which, of course, can be deadly themselves.

And they're killed. I mean, also a certain portion, maybe not a particularly high portion--but some of the women will be murdered, because they will resist, because they will not cooperate.

MS. LEDERER:  That's the really terrible negative possibilities. But there are some positive possibilities, too. Well, there are. We are working on rescuing these young women and children. And, as John says, countries that are going about this in the right way not only are criminalizing trafficking, but also are having a victim-centered approach. We have people from the TIP office who are working really hard with countries to help them develop a victim-centered approach so that there are places for these young women and children to go when they are rescued. There are shelters. There's a set of comprehensive services, because they have very specific needs. I am hoping Kent--I don't want to put you on the spot--but I'm hoping you will say a little bit about what USAID is doing. There are some really positive things that are happening. We have programs around the world, and we have people working really hard. So we've got Kent Hill here from USAID. So you'll hear, hopefully, a few of the positive endings, as well as all of the negative things that are happening.

MR. MILLER:  I'm glad you mentioned the positives, because, yes, around the world the State Department is engaging the countries and trying to persuade, cajole, threaten, et cetera, to get help for victims. But there was an interesting part in this film- when you say what happen--just thrown out? Obviously, if you think about it, it is in the pimp's interests to keep the victim going, to provide a minimal amount of sustenance, because it's a profit. This is an organized, criminal profitmaking activity. But, of course, if Lilya was to become so sick, or had gotten AIDS, or couldn't make a profit, you are darn right she would have been disposed of one way or another. They certainly weren't going to give her care. But that's a good question. Yes?

Q:  From this film, what I observed was the problem that was prostitution and whatever and the consequence of what the young girls go through. Now the suggestion or the comment is that just as we see the problems of drugs, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes, we should see prostitution in the same way. And just as through media or through schools and high schools and universities we convey this, that how harmful drugs are, we should somehow convey this to high school students, or through media we can convey to the general public what is going on and what could be done. Also, there should be some institutions where these kids, teenagers, they could turn to those institutions for help. And those institutions have to be publicized, so these kids are aware of where to go in case they are the victims.

MR. MILLER:  I think everybody is agreeing with your comment. If you look at the United States--as I said this is not my field, the United States--but the impression I have is that we are starting to do things. We are starting to step up law enforcement. There are more prosecutions. We are starting to move into protection, victims activities. HHS has programs now to support some shelters. I think what you are getting at is probably the area where the United States is the weakest: education, prevention education. I am not aware of many prevention education programs in the United States. And actually there are some--that in a way would be the lowest-cost way to fight this--not--you have to do all things, but that's the lowest cost. If you look in our report this year, you will find we have a list of model practices that have been effective. And many of them are prevention education practices from some of the least well-off countries. It's amazing what some countries in Africa are doing--sending elders out to the villages, working with taxi and lorry drivers to spot signs of trafficking, using soccer tournaments to have red cards to reject slave trading, and all this. There's some amazing things going on--public service announcements on the radio. There are some low-cost things that can be done, not only with target populations, the victims, but for example if Lilya, if there had been some education program that had reached Lilya, either through school or through the radio, that might have helped. The issue has been raised that the education campaign maybe should go on both sides though, that education to the general public that produces the so-called customers, how to--what they are getting involved with and the consequences of trafficking. Yes, please?

MS. LEDERER:  Can I just add one thing to that? I think it's important in addition to beginning to educate young men about the sex exploitation issue, also I think there's a lot that we can do as citizens to educate ourselves as to what to watch out for. If you saw in the movie when Lilya was in the shopping center, and the young woman is ringing up the hat for the guy, and not really looking, not really seeing.

I was recently speaking to a group of nuns and brothers, priests, and one of them said to me, "You know, we were out in the field and we usually go out looking for new people for our church, and we go to the migrant populations and the picker populations, and for the first time we had a situation where in this place where the migrant workers were picking tomatoes--I think it was tomatoes--the bosses were pushing us away. They didn't want us to talk to anybody. They didn't want us to recruit for the church. We couldn't get near them. That was odd, because we know these are all young people from Mexico. That was odd. Was there something going on?" I said, "I think your instincts are right. You have to follow up and find out why is it you weren't welcomed there." And so if we are all on the alert I think we will begin to uncover some of these trafficking situations.

Q:  I just wanted to say I was really happy to hear Professor Hughes bring up the point earlier about demand, because I feel that people don't address demand. I'm hearing a lot of talk about victims, but the bottom line is if there weren't any demand there wouldn't be any victims. So I am wondering what steps your office is taking to address the demand.

MR. MILLER:  Well, if you'll see in our report we have a—[short audio break for tape flip]-- improvement, where we list, instead of putting out a government report that says everything you are doing is right, we have a section that says, "Areas of improvement." At the bottom of that list is demand. We have to work more with countries around the world--that goes without saying the United States, too, although that's not our function at the State Department--on the demand issue.

Let me just take a specific part of the demand issue--sex tourism. Every day thousands of children are sold into or forced into prostitution around the world. One of the engines for that is sex tourism. Countries that have sex tourism facilities--there is a demand for minors. Now this was not a sex tourism --this movie was not about sex tourism. But sex tourism, whether it takes place in Thailand or Gambia or the Netherlands, a lot of it focuses on minors. That's the demand. And I think--I hope that in the coming year, if the budget allows, that our office will be able to draw up a plan for developed countries that are providing many of the sex tourists. I mean, when you look at where they are coming from, they are not all coming from Thailand and Gambia; they are coming from, developed nations--Japan, the United States, Netherlands. So I am hoping that we will have the wherewithal to study that part of the demand issue, draw up a plan that can be used by developed countries to try to keep their citizens from participating.

We've done something. Congress just passed a law that makes it easier to prosecute such people. But there's much more we can do in terms of education, working with airlines, travel agencies, etc. So, I'm sorry to go on so long, but this demand issue is important. Did you want to follow-up?

Q:  Yes, just one follow-up to that. Regarding the demand, I was wondering if you could just comment a little bit. I am of the view that prostitution and trafficking are virtually synonymous. So in looking at how Sweden has dealt with the situation, by decriminalizing the prostitutes but keeping the demand criminal, a lot of people say they have been able to do a lot of good things with that. Can you comment on that? Do you think that's something that you would advocate?

MS. LEDERER:  (?) Yes, I certainly support the Swedish approach. I think that what they did was they looked at what was happening to victims, and saw that the trauma and the injury that was done to the women clearly was similar to rape or to battery. And they said, "Then why aren't we treating prostitution the same way?" In other words, provide the services to them as victims and criminalize the batterers or the men who are buying sexual services. And I think it was a wise and courageous move that they made.

And one of the things to get at--the important thing about this film also is I think it portrays the demand much as it actually happens to women in prostitution. And those men were seen as simply ugly, heaving bodies over top of Lilya. And I think that one of the things that we can do is start countering a lot of the sort of romantic myths that exists in the United States about what prostitution is and stop either romanticizing it or simply making it look sexy.

MR. MILLER:  Okay, thank you. Kent, did you want to make a comment? We are just going to let Kent Hill from USAID make a comment here. He's been working on this issue for some time.

MR. HILL:  Yes, there are just two or three things I want to say. Early on, John, you made the point, in answer to a question, that the problem is so multifaceted you have to attack it on a bunch of different levels. So, for example, I can only speak with much knowledge about what we are doing in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, but there is a whole list of things we try to do, all the way from looking at vulnerable-age women populations in terms of jobs, etc.--although I agree with the panelists and others that there is in Russia compelling evidence that it's educated women that might be as attracted to this lifestyle as others. Prostitution was even listed very high up on a list of favorite professions, which sort of boggles the mind. So I think it's not just economic, but it is partly economics. So you deal with that.

You deal with trying to get the laws passed. You deal with trying to train the prosecutors. You deal with trying to deal with prosecution--not prosecution, but corruption at all levels, which undermines laws. There is a lot of evidence that the law that the Congress passed has had tangible impact. And this year is the first year that the tier three label makes a difference. So countries are scrambling between now and October 1 to get off of that tier three list so that they don't get cut off from assistance. So there have been some teeth that would help.

I am going to mention two last things. I was just in Romania, where I visited a shelter for women. There are some positive signs to the work that some of the people are doing that is graphic. There is a Romanian woman who was living in Australia--hadn't been in Romania for decades--worked with street kids in Sydney. She goes to visit relatives in Romania, encounters the horrible situation of these victims, some of whom manage to get home--sees this is much worse than Australia, and has not been able to escape the situation, and is setting up shelters in Romania, which USAID and others are trying to support. Now it's just a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of victims, but it's important to support these women. And it was mentioned MiraMed in St. Petersburg, Russia, is doing the same sort of thing with wonderful people there, inspirational people. To the extent we support those folks, you are sort of inspiring others to try to take this up.

And one point on the demand. The Lilya film is important for not just high school kids and college kids, but men to see in the United States and elsewhere, because a lot of men who think that they are paying for sex really don't want to pay to deal with people who are trafficked or who are sex slaves or whatever. And when I asked some of the women in Romania how in the world they escaped, it was the customers who found out that these were basically women who were not there of their own free will, and they went to the police. So I think we get the word out how prevalent this is, that this may look like it's voluntary, but it may not be; it may also make men less willing to participate in something they might otherwise be inclined to do.

MR. MILLER:  Thank you, Kent. Go ahead. Thanks for your patience.

Q:  My name is Hemlaw Kathway (ph). I'm from Nepal. I have done some research on South Asia human trafficking. My comment is I actually just read the 2003 report, and it indicated that somehow some countries within a third tier have to reduce the number of traffickers in people in order to continue getting aid from the Western world. Does that create some kind of ethical problem by underreporting human trafficking, because most of the problems are seen in developing countries, and the problems--in order to get the funds they may not report the numbers of people trafficked, or the ethical issue?

MR. MILLER:  That's a very good question. It does pose a concern and, of course, in doing the report we have to try to be more vigilant in assessing the figures and statistics. That's sometimes hard to do when three people are covering the world. But in making the assessment on tier two or tier three, it's not just the number of victims. The law really puts more of a focus on what's being done. So even countries that are in tier one in the report, believe me, some of them have big problems with trafficking victims. And yet because of what they are doing in prevention, protection, and prosecution, they are in tier one.

I have to say maybe there's some idyllic paradise, some country in the world that is not affected by slavery or trafficking in persons, but I haven't seen it yet. I mean, this seems to go everywhere in the world, and some countries, of course, have bigger problems, and others have more victims, and some don't have a significant number of victims. But it hasn't been shown to me that any country is immune.

Q:  I have a follow-up question to Laura about--you mentioned rescuing is an important task for human trafficking victims. Has your department or any of the NGOs or INGOs looked into what happens to those who are actually rescued from brothels, sent back to their home country or villages, where they are seen as marginalized individuals? They don't want them to be there in the first place. They are sold by their husbands, brothers, or relatives. How are they coping with existing social stigma? Have any of those things been addressed, a rehabilitation concept?

MS. LEDERER:  Well, I think John would want to talk about this, too. But I do want to say the United States is, I think, the leader in terms of how to address the rescue situation. We have what's called a T-VISA here, so that any young woman or child who has been trafficked has the possibility of staying in the United States, receiving--getting shelter, receiving a set of services, training. And I think it's a 3-year temporary residency, with the possibility of permanent residency. I think it's the only law in the world so far where we offer permanent residency. We do need to encourage countries to do that. As John was saying, for the most part right now, we are just getting summary sweep and deport, with no thought as to what happens to the young women when they are deported back to the country of origin. But we are getting better at it. There are organizations--there is probably somebody here from IOM--but there are organizations that are working on programs for repatriation and resettlement in countries where they can't stay, where they can at least have a good plan of action for how to repatriate and resettle.

MR. MILLER:  I just want to add one thing on rescue, and this shows what people can do. There is an organization called the International Justice Mission. It's now several hundred people around the world, headed by a former Justice Department attorney, Gary Haugen. And their mission is to rescue victims and then see that they are cared for, but to rescue victims. They have been responsible for rescuing hundreds and hundreds of victims and encouraging and working with local police around the world to rescue others. So it's not just governments involved--individuals working together can do a lot.

I think we are coming to the wrap-up time, so let's do this: Let's take questions from everybody who remain standing here, and then we'll wrap it up. Go ahead.

Q:  I'm Shunisi Duraman (ph). I am a student, and one of the things that struck me during the film was it's actually about--I visited Nepal a few years ago, and had Lilya gone through customs or actually through the airport, there is a desk manned by people who have escaped from the brothels, and they look out--they watch out for young girls traveling with suspicious individuals or by themselves. And just like when you enter the United States, they take away your fruits--if someone has been trafficked, it would be a fairly simple thing to do, even if we just trained our immigration or customs officials to look out for any kind of suspicious activity.

MR. MILLER:  Well, I'm glad you mention that. And you said this is Nepal, right?

Q:  Yes, it's done in Nepal.

MR. MILLER:  We list that as one of the model practices in the report this year. There is Nepal, not one of the wealthier countries in the world, but what they have done is they are using or getting victims after they have been cared for to help in identifying traffickers, working with the border guards and customs, as you said. I think it's a marvelous thing that Nepal is doing. Go ahead.

Q:  I'm Brooke Purcell (ph), and the gentleman before me asked one of my questions. I had one other. You mentioned briefly the role of organized crime, and I wonder whether you have any knowledge about the extent to which organized crime is playing a role in it. This was portrayed as an individual. And I wondered how typical that is?

MS. LEDERER:  Well, I think that in order to move--we know the numbers are as high as 20,000 per year--this is the new estimate from our government--into the United States, and 700,000 to 1 million is a conservative estimate worldwide. To move those kinds of numbers of human beings across borders takes organized criminal activity. It takes the recruiters, the transporters, the buyers, the sellers, the guards. And even here you see that network of activity. You know that Andrei has not done this only once. He has done this before. And we know that it is not necessarily organized crime in the classic sense of the mafia or Cosa Nostra, but networks of criminal cartels that clearly are involved on one end and then the other.

More than that, I think we have a lot more research to do, and I'm hoping that we can find monies for research as well as for prevention, prosecution, and protection programs, because until we have good information we can't really design good programs to intervene. So information like how much is organized crime involved is very important.

MR. MILLER:  Let's make these the last two comments. Go ahead.

Q:  Yes, my name is Samantha Santiago. I am from the Philippine Embassy. And I was just wondering if you could comment briefly on the situation in the Philippines, to the extent of trafficking in the Philippines and how it compares to other countries.

MR. MILLER:  I'm looking around to see if anybody from our office is here that worked on the Philippines, and I don't see anybody. So does anybody have a copy of the report handy? I don't think we do. I'll tell you what. The Philippines- I do know the Philippines is in tier two. The Philippines does have a problem. They are a source country primarily, and I think trafficking victims have gone from the Philippines, sex-trafficking victims, to countries like Japan and Korea. Labor trafficking victims have gone from the Philippines to other countries. The Philippines has some prevention, protection, and prosecution efforts. That's why they are in tier two--not enough. If you want, why don't you come up and see me afterwards, and I will see if I can get your name and address. I could see either that you get the report, or we will xerox out the part on the Philippines and send it to you. Okay?

MS. LEDERER:  The one thing I do know about the Philippines is that they are the second country in the world to criminalize patronizing. And I think that's important, because as we saw in Lilya I think it may be true, Kent, that there are some customers who help rescue, but the vast number of customers are like the ones we saw in the movie. They are users; they are exploiters, and the way to attack that probably is to penalize them, to make it criminal activity, and then we'll get at it.

MS. HUGHES:  I will make a couple comments about the Philippines, and that is that the sex industry in the Philippines really had its origin from the U.S. bases there. Then when the United States, which really created a huge sex industry there--then when the United States closed the bases, they turned to sex tourism. The Philippines sends I don't know how many people, but a lot of people out each year as migrant labor. Any time that you are having significant portions of the population go out to work in various places around the world, it makes them vulnerable to trafficking. So I think that also is one of the reasons that there are a lot of trafficking victims from the Philippines. They are all over the world, from the Middle East, South Korea, the United States, even Africa. They've been in Nigeria--found trafficked Filipinas.

One thing that I think the Philippines really needs credit for--they are the only country I know in the world that has criminalized the operation of mail-order-bride agencies and sex tour agencies. Now how good they are at enforcing that is another thing. But I think that they recognize that this was the route through which many of the women were being trafficked. I think that that could be an example for many other countries around the world--not how are we going to make sure that mail-order-bride agencies are operating ethically but simply why do we allow them to operate at all.

MR. MILLER:  Thank you. Yes?

Q:  I'm Margaret McDonald (ph) with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It’s more of a comment than a question, but I was thinking as we were talking about demand that the film mostly focused on sex trafficking, and most of our discussion is focused on sex trafficking, but trafficking also involves forced labor, domestic servitude, debt bondage. And when you think about issues of demand in that form of trafficking, it becomes much more complex. In some ways it's easy to go after sex trafficking, because it's very clear cut. But trafficking for labor involves corporate greed and the desire for low-cost products. It becomes much more complicated to attack that demand. So I am wondering in what ways is that being addressed.

MR. MILLER:  Well, in our report we look at-- this film is on sex trafficking. The legislation that Congress passed, the executive order that President Bush signed in December calling on U.S. agencies to make trafficking a priority, covers all forms of trafficking. It's not just sex trafficking. You mentioned greed with regards to labor trafficking, but greed is a factor here. I mean this is combining the greed for profits with rape is what it is. I--along with--maybe it's worthwhile to list some of the other forms of slavery besides sex trafficking. You talked about forced labor trafficking. There is slavery still based on religion and color. There is slavery--there is camel jockey slavery in the Middle East. There's slavery involving enslaving kids, children, into armies. So sex trafficking is not the only form of slavery, and I think that's a point well taken. But while there is no scientific proof of this, I think we have the impression that it is the form of slavery that is probably the form that is growing the most and probably produces the most profits and is the most tied to organized crime. Do either of our panelists want to have a last word here?

MS. LEDERER:  I agree with you that it's very complicated--that labor trafficking and the issue of demand is very complicated, and I think we are all implicated in that. I moderated a panel on the economics of trafficking in Europe and German construction businesses--the head of the construction companies said, “You know, I have 400,000 German construction workers out of work, because they have been replaced by Czech workers who would work for less, who were then replaced by Afghan workers who would work for less, who were then replaced by…” and he goes on down this tier like this until he gets to this final bottom rung of people who are working for a pittance--can't feed their families on it, have their passports taken away--and they are really trafficking victims.

But the issue there is that in these legitimate industries we are all the buyers of those products. And as long as we want those lower prices and aren't willing to pay more in order to have fair labor practices, basically, I think this is going to go on, especially with the globalization. But it's incredibly complicated and very difficult to get at.

MR. MILLER:  Donna, did you want to add anything to conclude?

MR. KEPPLER:  I'm afraid we are going to have to wrap this up.

MR. MILLER:  Okay, we will wrap it up. I just wanted to say that if people want to look at our report, you can get it on the web on the State Department website. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to come. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your friends, talk to your church groups, talk to your public officials to keep them focused on this. We will succeed in abolishing slavery. It took years and years and years to abolish government-sanctioned slavery based on color in the 19th century in this country. It took years for William Wilburforce to get the British Parliament to go after the slave traders. But I think working together, depressing as this is, we can make a difference. Thank you all. (Applause.)

MR. KEPPLER:  I want to thank you all, and I want to thank our panelists Mr. John Miller; I want to thank Laura Lederer, and I want to thank Donna Hughes. I think it was a very interesting, productive session. And thank you all for attending and participating.


Released on July 10, 2003

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