Message from

the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

on International Women's Day

8 March 2007

It is hard to believe that two hundred years after the abolition of the slave trade, people are still trapped in modern forms of slavery. One of the most heinous crimes is human trafficking.

Around the world, millions of people - particularly women and girls - are victims of human trafficking, coerced into sexual exploitation, enslaved and indebted to their masters, afraid or unable to escape. 

On this International Women's Day I urge you to help free these slaves.

Urge your government to ratify the UN Protocol against human trafficking. Show no tolerance for legal systems that let traffickers escape with token penalties.

Raise awareness in your community about this crime, and educate friends and colleagues who may be vulnerable.

Protect the victims, particularly women and children who have special needs. These survivors must feel safe after being rescued, and should never face such an ordeal again. 

There would be no sex slavery without demand for its services. Are you part of the problem? 

It is time to take global action against this global crime. Around the world, governments, NGOs, police forces, private companies and inter-governmental organizations are already taking steps to stop human trafficking. 

Together we will be stronger. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has therefore launched a Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery.

I urge you to join this Initiative to help women and girls around the world break the chains of slavery and live a life of dignity and freedom. 

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UNODC Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond