More than 1,000 Human Trafficking Calls Made in DMV

Saudi nationals accused of housing domestic servants in Virginia

By Mila Mimica and Jackie Bensen
|  Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013  |  Updated 7:24 PM EDT
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D.C.-Area Human Trafficking Cases Included in New Report

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D.C.-Area Human Trafficking Cases Included in New Report

Cases in the DC area played a role in the State Department 2013 report on human trafficking.
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More than 1,000 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center were made from the D.C. metro area last year.

News4's Jackie Bensen has thoroughly investigated human trafficking in the region. Last month, she spoke with a Kenyan woman who claimed she was kept as a domestic slave by Saudi Arabian diplomats living in Falls Church, Va.

Two weeks prior, Bensen uncovered an investigation into possible human trafficking of two Philippine women at a Saudi-owned compound in McLean, Va. News4 reporter Richard Jordan reported the State Department said diplomatic immunity may apply in this case.

The State Department Wednesday released its Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, asserting women from overseas are frequently kept as slaves by their employers in Saudi Arabia. This gave the country the lowest rating possible, Tier 3, for the 13th year in a row.

Anti-trafficking expert David Abramowitz said it's not surprising that Saudi Arabia's status remains unchanged in the report.

"A number of the [Persian] Gulf counties including Saudi Arabia have been accused of having domestic workers right here in the D.C. area," Abramowitz said."The [State] Department keeps threatening to stop offender governments from using their visas, but it never does."

Officials note the countries named in the report have the opportunity to work to address matters of concern that are identified.

The State Department downgraded China and Russia in the 2013 report, and the Associated Press reports President Obama has 90 days to apply sanctions against China, Russia, Uzbekistan and 18 other governments given the lowest human trafficking rating.

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