Anti-trafficking bill moves through Congress at a snail’s pace

Congress allowed a major anti-trafficking law to expire at the end of September. Months later, the bill is slowly moving through Congress.

By Shawna Templeton. Photo by Khaing Min Htoo.
Published November 16, 2011 at 12:00am PST

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) — the cornerstone of U.S. policies to fight modern-day slavery — expired on September 30 because Congress did not vote to reauthorize the law in time. As a result, U.S. efforts to combat trafficking are essentially on hold until the law is reauthorized.

However, due to pressure from citizen advocates, the bill is being taken up by congressional committees, albeit somewhat sluggishly.

A major piece of human rights legislation

Trafficking — the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a child or adult for profit — occurs in every country in the world, including the United States.

The TVPA helps protect the vulnerable, supports trafficking survivors, and gives law-enforcement agencies the tools to prosecute traffickers. It positions the United States as a global leader in the fight against modern-day slavery.

Because the methods of traffickers always change, the law must change, too. Each time the bill is renewed, innovations and improvements are added to the original legislation. Congress unanimously passed and then approved every reauthorization since 2000, in the years 2003, 2005, and 2008.

Advocates continue to lobby Congress

While the reauthorization bill was not voted on before the expiration, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously passed the bill on October 6. However, the House Judiciary Committee must still vote on the bill. This vote is expected to take place sometime in November.

On October 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 12-6 to send the bill to the full Senate for a vote.

World Vision’s Jesse Eaves says the bill is still moving forward because citizens are speaking out. “This is a direct result of the pressure brought by advocates,” says Eaves. “It’s only through this sustained effort that we can restart the United States’ fight against trafficking.”

Thousands of World Vision supporters have contributed their voices to this cause.

Three ways you can help

Please pray that all sides to come together so that the United States continues to be the global leader in the fight against slavery.

Speak out. Call your members of Congress to voice your support for the TVPA.

Make a one-time gift to help support girls and women in crisis. Your donation will help World Vision provide protection, counseling, education, vocational training, and more to girls and women who were formally subjected to abuse or exploitation.