Hollywood actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith visited the U.S. State Department for an event with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton marking the official release of the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report.
“I will join Lou [CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large, Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons] in thanking Jada Pinkett Smith and Will for being here,” Clinton said, “and through you, your daughter because, as Lou said, it was their daughter who brought this issue to Jada’s attention, and I am so pleased that she has taken on this cause. And we look forward to working with you.”
Jada Pinkett Smith appears nude in a video with actress Salma Hayek for a campaign dedicated to stopping human trafficking.
Secretary Clinton said the Department now refers to human trafficking as modern slavery.
“Today, it is estimated as many as 27 million people around the world are victims of modern slavery, what we sometimes call trafficking in persons. As Lou said, I’ve worked on this issue now for more than a dozen years and when we started, we called it trafficking and we were particularly concerned about what we saw as an explosion of the exploitation of people, most especially women, who were being quote, ‘trafficked’ into the sex trade and other forms of servitude. But I think labeling this for what it is, slavery, has brought it to another dimension,” said Clinton.
“This year’s report tells us that we are making a lot of progress. Twenty-nine countries were upgraded from a lower tier to a higher one, which means that their governments are taking the right steps. This could mean enacting strong laws, stepping up their investigations and prosecutions, or simply laying out a roadmap of steps they will take to respond.”
Clinton said she is “pleased” that this issue is a “high priority” for President Obama and his administration.
“Traffickers prey on the hopes and dreams of those seeking a better life and our goal should be to put those hopes and dreams back within reach, whether it’s getting a good job to send money home to support a family, trying to get an education for oneself or one’s children, or simply pursuing new opportunities that might lead to a better life,” she said. “We need to ensure that all survivors have that opportunity to move past what they endured and to make the most of their potential.”