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The House Passes 13 Laws to Combat Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is an international problem, one that can’t be cured by a single person or action. Congressman Kevin McCarthy discusses this in an opinion piece for CNN,  where he emphasizes the importance of human trafficking by displaying his overwhelming faith in the progress being made to end it.

McCarthy detailed this progress by discussing the 13 pieces of legislation that the US House of Representatives recently passed to help combat both national and international human trafficking.

California Representative Ed Royce introduced Targeted Rewards for Global Eradication of Human Trafficking Act, which works by utilizing the US State Department’s rewards program to target international human traffickers. The law will allow the Secretary of State to offer rewards for leads that could result in the arrest of international human traffickers in the same way that rewards are offered for the arrests of terrorists.

This is a small step in the fight to free those who may be victims of human trafficking – present and future. Human trafficking has deep roots and the size of the trafficking network is immense. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims globally, creating a $150 b industry.

In his piece, McCarthy acknowledges that the problem won’t be fixed by one action, or even the many thousands of actions that would lead to these 13 laws being passed.

“No single piece of legislation will end human trafficking and exploitation. The crime is both pervasive and hidden in plain sight. But every single one of these bills will help. And with each one, we are closer to ending this terrible wrong and giving victims the chance to live the chance to live the normal lives that were stolen from them,” McCarthy wrote.

Many people in the US will also benefit from these laws. In 2016, American’s National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 7,572 cases of human trafficking. Many of these victims were children who ran away from home. Eighty-six percent of these children ran away from social services or foster care.

These children are exponentially more susceptible to exploitation than a child not involved with any sort of social service or foster program. They often lack the domestic stability and safety that prevents risky situations. They also lack the resources necessary to rehabilitate themselves after something as traumatic as human trafficking, be it sexual exploitation or forced labor.

Missouri Representative Ann Wagner’s Put Trafficking Victims First Act will help combat this. The act provides incentives that encourage states to provide child welfare services and programs to help those who suffer from trauma. It also encourages states to discard the terms “child prostitutes” and “underage sex workers,” since children cannot willingly be sex workers, and the terms connote a form of consent.

Slavery is still alive, adapting and thriving in the modern economy in new, perverse ways. The number of reported cases in the US increased by 35.7% from 2015 to 2016.

“Human trafficking and exploitation are evil,” McCarthy wrote. “Victims must be helped, traffickers must be punished, law enforcement must be trained to detect and uncover it, and as a nation we must work to prevent it.”

Featured Image by stanjourdan on Flickr

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