Foreign Policy Blogs

The human cost of trafficking

Some stories never die. Human trafficking, a multibillion dollar a year global industry, seems to be one of them. In recent years, there has been a huge advocacy effort that has raised awareness on the issue, but still the trade of people as goods persists in every corner of the world.

One of the most brutal forms of this trade is sex trafficking. The psychological trauma and physical wounds that this form of human trafficking gives its victims often last a lifetime. The real cost of this trade is not normally seen on the front pages of newspapers, because it is too graphic and makes too many people uncomfortable. But as those who have survived the ordeal speak out, it is important that we listen to what they have to say in order to find a better way to stop this practice from happening in our societies.

The following video was recorded last November at the TEDIndia 2009 conference. Sunitha Krishnan, who is a survivor of rape herself, co-founded Prajwala, an organization in India that aims to rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex trafficking and ultimately end the trade altogether. Although the video includes some graphic photos and accounts of abuse, it is important to listen if we are ever to end this trade.

  • The Dayton Human Trafficking Accords


    WE can end human trafficking and slavery, but only if we solemnly commit ourselves to that common purpose.

    We must confront the global scourge of trafficking and slavery beginning in our own local communities.

    We as individuals and all institutions of society have a moral responsibility to end trafficking and free slaves from their captivity.


    WE undertake a solemn commitment, beginning now, to end the scourge of trafficking and slavery

    And to take immediate action in our communities to

    Stir society’s conscience to action against trafficking and slavery

    Rescue and restore victims of trafficking and slavery

    Identify and punish traffickers and slavers

    Promote legislation and public policies to eradicate trafficking and slavery

    Address the social, cultural and economic causes of trafficking and slavery

    So that

    We will end human trafficking in our time


Kimberly J. Curtis
Kimberly J. Curtis

Kimberly Curtis has a Master's degree in International Affairs and a Juris Doctor from American University in Washington, DC. She is a co-founder of The Women's Empowerment Institute of Cameroon and has worked for human rights organizations in Rwanda and the United States. You can follow her on Twitter at @curtiskj

Areas of Focus: Transitional justice; Women's rights; Africa