The turning of a new year is always a pivotal moment; the past is behind us and our eyes focus on the future. That’s especially true with the passing of the 2016 elections and the potential in 2017 for strengthening policies that will benefit those affected by human trafficking and modern slavery.
January is Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. It’s a time to take stock of where things stand in the ongoing effort to overcome human bondage, and to map the path forward. Because this January will be filled with policy discussions as new government officials take office, this year’s Trafficking Month focus will see a heavy emphasis on political debate at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
One of the most important focus points in 2017 will be renewal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). This bill aims to reduce human trafficking by establishing federal regulations, providing remedies and sanctuary to trafficked persons, and providing federal funds to combat international trafficking. It serves as the architectural framework for America’s federal anti-slavery efforts. The TVPA was originally signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, and has been renewed under both Republican and Democratic administrations. It demonstrates that fighting slavery is truly something everyone can agree on.
Another policy focus is reducing the purchase of slave-made goods. Today, some of our most popular stores and brands sell products that are tainted by slavery. One way that individuals can stand against the importation of slave-made goods is to choose to shop consciously, keeping in mind that every purchase carries power. This principle is important for the federal government, too. Tax dollars must not be spent to purchase goods made by slaves.
Other policy initiatives in early 2017 will include the education of incoming members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors and political appointees responsible for maintaining America’s leadership role in the global anti-slavery field. Everyone can help. If you are at a town hall meeting, an embassy reception overseas, or any event with a government official, let them know that fighting slavery is important to you! This is true for all levels of government–at home or overseas.
You can visit our How to Take Action webpage for ideas on how to educate and mobilize your family, friends, neighbors, congregants, colleagues — or everyone you know. We’ll be sharing specific ideas as the month unfolds.
Thank you for your support. We can end slavery if everyone pulls together!