Hillary Clinton holds hands with President Barack Obama on stage at this year's Democratic National Convention ©Press Association Images
Hillary Clinton holds hands with President Barack Obama on stage at this year's Democratic National Convention ©Press Association Images

Clinton makes modern slavery a presidential campaign issue

28 July 2016

The issue of human trafficking was brought to the fore of the US presidential elections this week when a survivor of modern slavery addressed the Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as Democratic presidential candidate on Tuesday and has positioned herself as an anti-modern slavery candidate.

“Today millions of people in the world are held in forced labour or sexual servitude,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar in an address to the DNC.

“[Clinton] supported the first trafficking law in our country. And years later she supported my bi-partisan bill that’s helping law enforcement crack down on trafficking,” she added, before inviting slavery survivor and advocate Ima Matul Maisroh to address the conference.

“I grew up in a poor village in Indonesia. When I was 17 years old, I was brought to Los Angeles with the promise of a job as a nanny. Instead, I spent the next three years in domestic servitude being abused,” said Maisroh.

Her story is common among people who have been trafficked into modern slavery.

A labour recruiter in her native Indonesia offered her job abroad with the prospects of a higher wage than she could hope for at home.

When Maisroh arrived in the US her passport was confiscated and her captors abused her and threatened her with jail if she tried to flee.

Clinton has previously brandished her anti-modern slavery credentials as making her the presidential candidate strong on the issue.

“As first lady, I championed this issue… As secretary of state, I oversaw nearly 170 anti-trafficking programs in 70 countries, and press foreign leaders to step up their efforts… And I strongly supported President Obama’s initiatives ensuring that American tax dollars don’t fuel demand for forced labour,” she recently wrote on the blogging site Medium

Her republican counterpart, Donald Trump, has not said much on the issue of human trafficking, other than his proposed wall between Mexico and the US would reduce trafficking.

The Trump campaign has not yet responded to a request clarifying their position or policies.

This Saturday marks UN World Day against Trafficking of Persons. The UN estimates 21m people are victims of forced labour internationally, many of who have been trafficked.

The Global Slavery Index estimates 46m people are in some form of modern slavery, more than double the UN’s estimate.

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