A Closing Note From the Drafters of the Report
This report is about people. It’s about the strength of the human spirit – the drive for a better life, the capacity to survive the unthinkable, and the dignity that comes with self-determination. The progress the world has made in the past 10 years is a testament to survivors, who tell their truths and rebuild not only their own lives but a society that will never again require such unimaginable courage. These survivors guide our policy and stir our hearts to greater action. Yet we are also driven by accounts of lives unaffected by the 10 years of progress.
Malia, 28, was recruited from her rural Asian community for work in a textile factory in a far-away land. Her recruitment was covered by governmental agreements and involved an employment contract, a passport, and a work visa. One would assume that such legalities would provide sufficient protection from enslavement; the reality proved to be quite different.
Malia’s experience was not unique. With hundreds of other Asian workers (mostly women, as they are considered most pliable), she suffered under clear conditions of modern slavery. Her passport was confiscated. She was coerced into accepting new and worse conditions of employment. She was compelled to work very long hours in sub-human conditions. When she resisted, she was threatened with punishment and deportation.
What makes Malia’s story stand out in our minds is how it ended. After one of her many 20-hour shifts, Malia struggled to walk back to the factory’s dormitory in the early morning and did not see the truck that struck and killed her. She died far from her husband and two children. She was not identified as a victim of slavery. Her death was treated as an unfortunate casualty in the global mobilization of cheap, exploitable labor.
We dedicate this report to Malia and her family. Slavery in the 21st century is utterly unacceptable. But it is particularly outrageous when it occurs as a product of governmental labor agreements. Regardless of how they become enslaved, all victims of forced labor are protected by the UN’s trafficking protocol and other international instruments. In the spirit of emancipation and with fierce urgency, we pledge to intensify our efforts to reinforce this message through international partnerships, so that Malia’s memory will be honored and her story not repeated.
The staff of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons:
Carla M. Bury
Alison Kiehl Friedman
Sara Eren Gilmer
Paula R. Goode
Adam J. Hall
Megan L. Hall
Tyra J. Jackson
Ann M. Karl
Nan E. Kennelly
Matthew J. Owens
A. James Panos
April S. Parker
Rachel Yousey Raba
Amy O’Neill Richard
Desiree M. Suo
Mark B. Taylor
Special thanks to David Allred, Pamela Mills, and the graphic services team at Global Publishing Solutions.