By Anne Reilly
On March 15, President Obama held a meeting with cabinet members and senior advisors to lay out plans to put an end to modern day slavery. The United States has long been a leader in addressing international human trafficking. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton led the group in discussing the current situation and making plans to combat the issue. The United States plans to utilize tools to combat human trafficking including: law enforcement, victim service provisions, increasing public awareness, and diplomatic pressure. These tools can be used domestically or internationally to target traffickers and help protect victims. In addition, the United States will increase partnerships with organizations, schools, businesses, and local communities.
The U.S. was one of the first countries to take action against slavery in its modern form. In 2000, Congress passed the “Trafficking Victims Protection Act” in order to address the problem. This law gave a federal definition to the crime of sex trafficking and created the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons within the U.S. Department of State to study the issue. Every year since the enactment of the TVPA the U.S. Department of State releases a “Trafficking in Persons Report”evaluating the efforts of every country in prevention, prosecution, protection and partnership to combat human trafficking. Countries are ranked using a tier system. Low ranking countries face public scrutiny and possible sanctions, prompted many countries to toughen anti-trafficking efforts.
Though the TVPA provides a strong legal platform, many states are lacking laws on the issue. Shared Hope spearheaded the effort to make sex trafficking a priority issue in states by creating the Protected Innocence Challenge in 2011. Every year this challenge will evaluate states based on its current legislation regarding domestic minor sex trafficking. Each state receives a grade for its efforts, as well as recommendations on how to strengthen laws to protect citizens
President Obama said, “I am confident that we will one day end the scourge of modern slavery, because I believe in those committed to this issue: young people, people of faith and station, Americans who refuse to accept this injustice and will not rest until it is vanquished.”
We couldn’t agree more.