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Human trafficking: a misunderstood global scourge

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Moreover, Clinton and others have said regularly, human trafficking is also an American problem. It doesn't just take place in the sweatshops of impoverished Indian villages or in Thai brothels, but on US streets from San Francisco to New York. The federal government has estimated the number of domestic trafficking victims to be in the tens of thousands annually. Victims range from Southeast Asian indentured nail salon manicurists to Mexican agricultural workers to underage American prostitutes.

Many advocates say this last group, made up of American girls – and a relatively small number of boys – victimized in America, is the primary trafficking problem in the United States. "Sex trafficking," as this particular strain of human trafficking is called, has become a national human rights crisis, they say, and deserves a huge public outcry.

Indeed, domestic sex trafficking has become a high-profile cause. Celebrities from Jada Pinkett Smith and Salma Hayek to former couple Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have picked up the bullhorn of the anti-trafficking movement, with a focus on sex trafficking.

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