One house of Congress apparently needs a nudge from the public to protect victims of trafficking.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act expired in 2017. The victim-focused law provided funds to deal with the problem internationally and in the U.S. Nita Belles of In Our Backyard says the TVPA needs to be taken up again by legislators.
"It reauthorizes $520 million in federal funding over four years to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, prosecute traffickers around the world – [and] it would also prevent U.S. taxpayer funds from landing in the hands of international traffickers," she explains.
In addition, it would give the U.S. State Department an extra tool for dealing with countries that are working on trafficking but not doing enough.
Belles says it's important to understand that many trafficking victims are children – even in America. "The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children determined that of the cases of runaway youth in 2016 alone, one of six of those kids are likely victims of sex trafficking – children [who are] suffering repeated rapes and other forms of severe violence," she laments.
The problem, she says, is that the House of Representatives has passed a bill reauthorizing funding, but the Senate has not acted – and non-government organizations are hampered in providing assistance to the victims.
In Our Backyard is urging Americans to contact their two senators to light a fire to move on the legislation. The measure is one of several hundred held up in the Senate.