Over 20 million people around the world are in forced labor, including situations of human trafficking. We must continue to speak out for those who are vulnerable.
Eleven year old Panny, pictured above, recalls what it was like when her cousin Savoeun, who is just a couple years older, went missing. The girls in the family all quit school to work in a sewing factory and help earn income for their families. One day, they noticed Savoeun was not there. A broker had offered her a job abroad for more money, but the situation was not as described or as it seemed. The Trafficking Victims Protection and Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2017 will not only help prosecute traffickers and protect victims, but also help prevent trafficking from happening in the first place – including addressing situations that put children at greater risk, such as child labor.
The problem is large – more than 20 million people are affected globally, including 5.5 million children, who make up 25 percent of forced labor victims. These children deserve protection and prevention to have the best chance to thrive.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is the United States’ foundation to fight human trafficking domestically and abroad – and will expire soon. When the Trafficking Victims Protection Act passed in 2000, it was built upon the 3 Ps of ending trafficking—prevention, prosecution, and protection. In 2009, the State Department added a 4th P—partnership; a recognition that we all must work together to end trafficking in persons. Now, it is time for this bill to be reauthorized again.
This bill has key provisions to help prevent and end trafficking including:
- The Trafficking in Persons report, an annual publication that holds over 180 governments around the world accountable for human trafficking trends in their countries.
- Protection of unaccompanied children who arrive in the U.S. from countries not bordering the U.S.
- Incorporation of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act that directs the State Department to identify governments recruiting or using children in their armed forces and to withhold key forms of military assistance.
- Recognition of the importance of critical U.S. agencies that fund programs to fight child labor.
The TVPA is designed to be reauthorized to keep up with the evolving strategies and tactics of human traffickers. Each reauthorization of the TVPA has built on a strong foundation to protect children from exploitation and violence. For this bill to continue to be a leading policy that creates lasting positive impact, it cannot be allowed to expire. On July 11, 2017 the House passed the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act (HR. 2200). Now, the Senate must take action by introducing international provisions to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.