A Closing Note From the Drafters of the Report

While some of the accounts in these pages are disquieting, they are but a faint echo of the daily suffering of trafficking victims. For every hero or survivor highlighted, millions more remain unacknowledged and unnamed. It is time for that to stop.

The child pictured above was killed at age 15. From his age, his ethnicity, and skeletal damage, forensic specialists say he was a European child whose short life was one of hard labor – an indentured servant at a time when both Africans and Europeans were held in servitude in the New World. He likely tried to block the blows that felled him, breaking his forearm in a classic defensive wound. Buried in a hastily scraped grave in a cellar and covered over with discarded trash, he died anonymously and unknown. It was 1665, and the winds of slavery were spreading across the Americas.

This child’s story speaks across the centuries, reminding us of the millions who have suffered alone, abused in places where government and society turn away from their cries. And his story symbolizes the responsibility of governments to act. Not just to pass laws or discuss human trafficking as a diplomatic issue, but to act.

For his story is entwined with the first slavery laws in America. In 1661, concerned about the level of brutality, the colony of Virginia passed a law to bring transparency to slaves’ treatment by requiring deaths to be registered. But in the years that followed, abusive masters avoided the law by resorting to secret “cellar burials” like the one in this photo. Whether in 1661 or 2011, laws alone can only do so much. Words on a page cannot free slaves or bring their abusers to justice. It takes enforcement, protection of the vulnerable, and sustained political will. In short, it takes a government.

So as we close this year’s TIP Report, we are mindful of those on whose behalf we write. For those who deserve a real life, not an anonymous death – in honor of this child’s mute testimony from the grave – we must once and for all prevent the shadow of slavery from finding new victims.

The staff of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons:
Sheela Ahluwalia
Feleke Assefa
Vaughan Bagley
Terri L. Ballard
Casey Branchini
Kathleen Bresnahan
Betsy Bramon
Marissa Brescia
Carla M. Bury
Luis CdeBaca
Christine Chan-Downer
Sonia Helmy Dentzel
Jennifer Donnelly
Dana Dyson
Shereen Faraj
Marisa Ferri
Mark Forstrom
Alison Kiehl Friedman
Sara Eren Gilmer
Paula R. Goode
Leah F. Greenberg
Megan L. Hall
Kelly Heinrich
Tyra J. Jackson
Sofia Javed
Christina Johnson
Ann M. Karl
Nan E. Kennelly
Jane Khodarkovsky
Kendra L. Kreider
Abraham Lee
Martha Lovejoy
Kerry McBride
Ericka V. Moten
Tim Mulvey
Kim Marie Natoli
Matthew J. Owens
April S. Parker
Gayatri Patel
Rachel Yousey Raba
Amy O’Neill Richard
Amy Rofman
Laura Svat Rundlet
Saralyn Salisbury
Mai Shiozaki
Jane Sigmon
Katherine M. Stehle
Desiree M. Suo
Mark B. Taylor
Elsa Villagrana
Walt Wilcox
Janet Zinn

Special thanks to Lamya S. El-Shacke and the graphic services team at Global Publishing Solutions.