Anti-trafficking bill headed for president’s signature

Congress has passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a comprehensive law to combat human trafficking in the United States and globally. It now goes to the White House for final approval by the president.

By James Addis, World Vision U.S.
Published February 28, 2013 at 12:00am PST

The Trafficking Victims Protection Reathorization Act (TVPRA) is headed to the White House to be signed by the president, after passing the U.S. House of Representatives today and the Senate earlier this month.

Hope for millions of exploited men, women, and children

The TVPRA — a comprehensive federal law to combat human trafficking in the United States and abroad — was passed as an amendment to the Violence Against Women Act.

CNN reports that President Barack Obama is eager to see it. “I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk,” Obama said.

Jesse Eaves, World Vision’s senior policy advisor for child protection, applauded Congress for setting aside political differences and passing the bipartisan bill.

“The vote in the House not only gives hope to millions of exploited children, women, and exploited men around the world, but also to the thousands of advocates around the country who’ve worked tirelessly to push this legislation through,” he said.

What the TVPRA does

The reauthorization act strengthens the provisions of the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which became law in 2000. The act was reauthorized in 2008 to expand its scope and address new tactics traffickers have devised to circumvent its provisions.

The last reauthorization expired in September 2011. World Vision, which helped draft the original act, has fought vigorously for it to be reauthorized again.

Jesse says the reauthorized legislation offers important gains in the effort to combat trafficking and provide support to those who have suffered abuse, including:

  • Providing survivors of trafficking in the United States better access to support services
  • Strengthening efforts to prosecute American child-sex offenders living abroad
  • Allowing the United States to provide support to countries trying to combat trafficking within their own borders

Jesse says many countries have laws in place to combat trafficking but lack the resources to do so effectively.

The TVPRA will provide the training and resources to ensure that offenders are successfully prosecuted in such countries and that services are available to protect the vulnerable and give help to trafficking survivors.

The act will also be cost-effective by streamlining existing U.S. anti-trafficking efforts, and by building the capacity of countries to ultimately administer their anti-trafficking laws independently.

Advocates persevered

Jesse praised the work of advocates for the legislation, saying their efforts had been vital to ensure passage of the bill.

“When the voices of citizens got loud, things started to change and the bill started to move,” he said.

“It may have taken longer than we wanted, but the fight against modern-day slavery is stronger for it,” Jesse added. “They spoke truth to power, and today, power gave the voices of the people a big nod of respect.”

World Vision’s work to combat child trafficking

World Vision has extensive programs to protect children and combat human trafficking and slavery in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Romania.

Programs include providing safe havens for trafficked children; providing counseling and vocational training to help children recover from their experiences; reuniting trafficked children with their families; and partnering with authorities to identify and prosecute traffickers.

Three ways you can help

Praise God for the passage of this critical legislation. Pray that it would effectively provide the needed tools to combat trafficking and provide support for trafficking survivors. Thank God for the citizens who voiced their support for the bill.

Call your members of Congress and thank them for passing the TVPRA. By expressing your appreciation as a constituent, you’ll show them that you take notice when they support just policies — setting the stage for them to do the same in the future.

Make a one-time donation to help provide safety for a formerly exploited child. Your gift will help prevent further abuse and restore physical, emotional, and spiritual health to those who have faced terrible experiences.