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Human Trafficking Report By U.S. State Department Shows Freedom Remains Elusive For Millions

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Romanian students dressed as caged brides attend an event to raise awareness to the risks of human trafficking and sexual exploitation faced by young girls lured by the prospect of a better paying job abroad, in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Romanian students dressed as caged brides attend an event to raise awareness to the risks of human trafficking and sexual exploitation faced by young girls lured by the prospect of a better paying job abroad, in Bucharest, Romania, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

As many as 27 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labor and the use of child soldiers, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of State.

"Despite the adoption of treaties and laws prohibiting slavery, the evidence nevertheless shows that many
men, women and children continue to live in modern-day slavery through the scourge of trafficking in persons," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says in the report.

The State Department lists 17 countries in “Tier 3,” the lowest ranking on the scale of human trafficking, for their failure to comply with the minimum standards stated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). A crisis-wrought Syria, which last week dropped 31 spots in the Global Peace Index, shares the ranking with 16 others, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Libya, the report showed.

"This report, which is being issued today, gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of us are making progress on our commitments and where we are either standing still or even sliding backwards. It takes a hard look at every government in the world, including our own," Clinton said when presenting the report.

The U.S. ranked among the highest-scoring countries in the ranking, along with Australia, South Korea, Iceland, Poland, Italy and Nicaragua, among others.

The presentation of the report was attended by Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, the Washington Post writes. Pinkett Smith did not speak at the event, but released a music video directed by actress Salma Hayek that addresses the issue of sex trafficking.

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