By Annick Febrey
Annick Febrey is the Legislative Affairs Manager for International Justice Mission (IJM). IJM secures justice for victims of modern-day slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression around the world.
On October 1, 2011 Congress allowed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to expire, jeopardizing the U.S. fight against modern-day slavery. On September 4th, call your senators and tell them now is the time for action.
In just one year, human traffickers have generated an estimated $32 billion in illegal profit through buying, selling and exploiting the 27 million men, women and children in slavery today. Nearly 2 million of those were children exploited in the commercial sex trade. Unscrupulous labor recruiters have duped over 69,000 men and women into serving on U.S. military bases overseas under the promise of a well-paying job in a safe place. Those recruited later find themselves in a combat zone making a fraction of the salary they were promised (at best) and living in inhumane conditions with no hope of leaving.
Modern-day slavery is the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit another person for profit. This happens in the United States and abroad. Internationally modern-day slavery takes many forms, occurring in several industries including agriculture, textiles, fishing, tourism services and domestic work, mining, and construction, just to name a few.
To help combat trafficking and slavery in countries where International Justice Mission (IJM) works, we partnered with local authorities to secure the arrest of 220 suspected perpetrators of violent abuse in 2011 alone. Additionally, 113 rapists, traffickers and other criminals were convicted in IJM cases last year. Twelve establishments were ordered permanently closed for trafficking crimes as a result of IJM’s intervention. IJM had its largest rescue operation to date, securing freedom for 514 people in a brick kiln just outside of Chennai, India.
There remains much more that can be done. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry, second only to drug trafficking. The U.S. government spends .003% of its annual budget to combat this illegal trade. That is to say that for every $32 traffickers earn, the U.S. spends ten cents fighting them. We spend more fighting drug trafficking in a single month than has been spent fighting human trafficking both at home and abroad over the course of an entire decade.
Failure to act on this bill sends a clear signal to human traffickers that partisan politics is more important than the lives of the millions of men, women and children suffering around the globe.
Inaction will not stop modern-day slavery.Congress will not act unless you do. On September 4th call your senators and ask them to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S 1301) immediately. Visit www.passTVPRAnow.org to learn more and download resources, such as senator contact lists and suggested call scripts.