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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                             (Agra, India)
For Immediate Release                                     March 22, 2000


Combating Trafficking In Women And Children in South Asia

The Clinton Administration is leading key international efforts to stop the trafficking of women and children around the world. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development recently launched four new programs totaling nearly $1.6 million to assist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in implementing prevention efforts, providing assistance to victims, and improving coordination between law enforcement officials and local NGOs.

The new programs reflect President Clinton's sustained commitment to fight trafficking of women and children, as set forth in his Executive Memorandum issued on International Women's Day in March 1998.

The vulnerability of women and children to criminals engaged in trafficking is rooted in poverty and the low social status of women.

While the commitment of many anti-trafficking NGOs in South Asia is strong, the majority of them need additional support to continue and expand their activities in light of the dramatic global increase in incidences of this horrific crime. In South Asia, research and media reports suggest that the number of trafficked women and children is rising, and the average age of the victims is falling. In response to these alarming statistics, the U.S. government has committed to the following:

Working with the United Nations Development Fund for Women

USAID has approved a $1.3 million grant to the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) for a program to combat the trafficking of women and children in South Asia.

This three-year grant will fund regional activities that directly complement the bilateral efforts of USAID mission programs in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The grant will assist grassroots, national, and regional NGOs in South Asia to expand their advocacy activities and strengthen their networks against trafficking. Regional prevention efforts will increase public awareness about the realities of trafficking.

UNIFEM will assist NGOs to design and evaluate models of successful prevention efforts. A South Asia Anti-Trafficking Information Center will also be established in the region to promote stronger collaboration among NGOs working on anti-trafficking projects and greater exchange of information on prevention and prosecution programs.

Supporting India's Anti-trafficking Coordination

The Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the U.S. Department of State has approved $70,000 for two Indian NGO projects to develop and conduct training programs to improve anti-trafficking coordination among law enforcement officials and local NGOs.

Strengthened law enforcement and prosecution of traffickers is critical because the crime remains a high profit, relatively low-risk transnational criminal enterprise. Improving coordination among law enforcement officials and NGOs serving victims ensures that traffickers are detected and punished, and that victims are afforded the protection and assistance they need to rebuild their lives.

This funding will support interactive training for border officers, police, prosecutors and judges in Calcutta and New Delhi. Police and judicial officials will participate in workshops designed to assist in building successful prosecutions of traffickers and abettors. Border officers will also receive in-depth instruction on recognizing potential trafficking situations.

The State Department is contributing $200,000 to anti-trafficking activities specifically in India. This additional funding is part of a $1.5 million effort in the South Asia region using Economic Support Funds (ESF). Central to the strategy in India will be: strengthening enforcement of existing laws, supporting NGO shelters for victims of trafficking, and supporting rehabilitative programs, including skills training and income-generating activities.

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