Back in late September 2003, then U.S. President George W. Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly and articulated well on the crisis of sex trafficking including saying (aka modern-day slavery):
“There’s another humanitarian crisis spreading, yet hidden from view. Each year an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold or forced across the world’s borders. Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as 5, who fall victim to the sex trade. This commerce in human life generates billions of dollars each year, much of which is used to finance organized crime.
There’s a special evil in the abuse and exploitation of the most innocent and vulnerable.
The victims of sex trade see little of life before they see the very worst of life: an underground of brutality and lonely fear.
Those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished. Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.
This problem has appeared in my own country and we are working to stop it. The PROTECT Act, which I signed into law this year, makes it a crime for any person to enter the United States or for any citizen to travel abroad for the purpose of sex tourism involving children. The Department of Justice is actively investigating sex tour operators and patrons, who can face up to 30 years in prison. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States is using sanctions against governments to discourage human trafficking.
The victims of this industry also need help from members of the United Nations, and this begins with clear standards and the certainty of punishment under the laws of every country.
Today, some nations make it a crime to sexually abuse children abroad. Such conduct should be a crime in all nations. Governments should inform travelers of the harm this industry does and the severe punishments that will fall on its patrons.
The American government is committing $50 million to support the good work of organizations that are rescuing women and children from exploitation, and giving them shelter and medical treatment and the hope of a new life. I urge other governments to do their part.
We must show new energy in fighting back an old evil.
Nearly two centuries after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and more than a century after slavery was officially ended in its last strongholds, the trade in human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive in our time.
All the challenges I have spoken of this morning require urgent attention and moral clarity. Helping Afghanistan and Iraq to succeed as free nations in a transformed region, cutting off the avenues of proliferation, abolishing modern forms of slavery, these are the kinds of great tasks for which the United Nations was founded. In each case, careful discussion is needed and also decisive action. Our good intentions will be credited only if we achieve good outcomes.”
Read full speech in New York Times here.