Mursheda Akter’s dad left her family, and her mother works far away in Chittagong. She has not been home to see her in three years. The 11-year-old’s grandma raises her, and they struggle to make ends meet. Mursheda wishes she could be in school and dreams of being a teacher. Until then, she works in a family’s home doing chores. She is attending the World Vision Child Friendly Learning and Recreation Center and hopes that it will help her become a teacher. For children like Mursheda, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act is key to protecting them from the harms of trafficking. This is why it is so important that this bill is reauthorized.
A Bill to Protect and Prevent
The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act (H.R. 2200) is a comprehensive bill that addresses human trafficking both domestically and internationally. The bill updates the current Trafficking Victims Protection Act in order to strengthen it and address the changing nature of human trafficking, including new tactics being used traffickers.
The title of the bill honors the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, whose 200th birthday will be celebrated next year. Frederick Douglass once wrote–
“It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men.”
Prevention is Critical
In the fight against human trafficking, there has been progress in protecting victims, and prosecuting traffickers, and new focus on partnership – but in the area of prevention, progress lags. The 2017 bill recognizes the importance of increasing prevention, and thereby makes way for more full solutions. This bill, authored by Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, works through the following key provisions –
- The Trafficking in Persons report, an annual publication that holds over 180 governments around the world accountable for human trafficking trends in their countries;
- A call for USAID to incorporate child protection into country strategies for countries that have not made progress to address trafficking*;
- The Child Protection Compact Act, which allows the State Department to work with countries to measurably reduce child trafficking;
- Protection of unaccompanied children who arrive in the U.S. from countries not bordering the U.S.;
- Strengthening of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which directs the State Department to identify governments recruiting or using children in their armed forces and to withhold key forms of military assistance*;
- Recognition of the critical role of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) to protect children from forced labor and human trafficking*
*New to the 2017 reauthorization
What Message Do We Want to Send?
The current Trafficking Victims Protection Act expires this September. This may put children at risk as the cornerstone of U.S. trafficking laws lapse, but more than anything it sends a message to the world that the U.S. is not committed to being a leader in the fight against human trafficking.
Send a message to your Representative and ask that they cosponsor the 2017 reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
Photo: Mursheda Akter, age 11. © 2017 World Vision/ photo by Laura Reinhardt