Tuesday, March 18, 2014


March 14th, 2014The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) is considered the most comprehensive bill in Congress right now aimed at fighting human trafficking. I had the opportunity to attend a briefing at the Capitol yesterday, March 13th, to discuss the implications of this bill and discuss the issues surrounding human trafficking. I listened to a panel of experts present their research and initiatives aimed at fighting human trafficking, and discuss the importance of JVTA in helping bring an end to human trafficking and the victimization of minors in the sex trade industry. The legislation focuses on four main areas to help victims of human trafficking and prosecute the perpetrators. These include: systematic collaboration within the government and law enforcement, victims' access to services, funding, and demand. Senators Wyden and Cornyn, and Representatives Maloney and Poe are the congressional sponsors of JVTA. Senator Wyden gave a powerful statement at the briefing yesterday afternoon, calling for everyone to stand behind JVTA and fervently fight to bring an end to human trafficking.
Systematic Collaboration
JVTA would increase the collaboration between law enforcement, treatment programs, legal services, and housing agencies to ensure that victims are treated with the care that they need and the justice they deserve from the moment they are rescued.

Access to Services
Denise Edwards, from the National Children's Alliance, discussed in detail the importance of providing healing services to all victims of human trafficking. Currently, health and recovery services are only offered to foreign victims of human trafficking. JVTA would widen this scope by providing services for victims who are also US citizens and legal permanent residents.

FundingJVTA would create a fund within the Treasury Department allocated solely for fighting human trafficking. This fund would be comprised of fines collected from crimes related to sex trafficking, and would be used to provide services to trafficking victims, as well as create a block grant program which would aid the training of first responders and law enforcement officials. Yasim Vafa, from Human Rights Project for Girls, also noted that this training will help ensure that victims of sex trafficking are treated as suchand not criminalized for their victimization.

Reducing Demand
Samantha Vardaman, from Shared Hope International, spoke about the importance of attacking the demand side of human trafficking. This legislation does just that by including the words "patronize" and "solicit" when talking about individuals who will be prosecuted as criminals of human trafficking. By going after the buyers as well as those who capture and control trafficked victims, huge steps can be made in bringing an end to the sexual exploitation of minors, and all other women and men who are forced into sex acts against their will.
Panel of Experts
Yasmin Vafa, Human Rights Project for GirlsCamille Cooper, ProtectDenise Edwards, National Children's AllianceSamantha Vardaman, Shared Hope International

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