WASHINGTON, D.C. – Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, released a statement today as the U.S. House of Representatives passes a series of 12 bills aimed at combating human trafficking.
Varying in topic and impact, Polaris offered mixed support for the legislation. Polaris is calling on Congress to ensure all survivors of modern slavery are supported in the legislation, not just victims of sex trafficking, and is also urging Congress to provide additional funding for new programs created.
“Polaris applauds the U.S. House for prioritizing the fight against human trafficking at the start of the new legislative session. We hope this level of commitment continues over the next two years, not only in the House, but also in the Senate and throughout the federal government,” said Keeli Sorensen, Polaris’s Director of National Programs. “Overall, these bills move us in the right direction as we combat modern slavery. However, it’s absolutely essential that Congress focus efforts beyond supporting sex trafficking survivors to also include labor trafficking. Furthermore, we are disappointed that some of these bills don’t provide the funding for the victim services or training initiatives created. Funding for survivor services is already severely limited. Adding new programs and initiatives that draw funding from these minimal allocations is counterintuitive.”
“Polaris urges the House to pass Rep. Honda’s legislation creating an advisory council on human trafficking. Survivor input and leadership is absolutely essential as stakeholders across the country combat human trafficking,” continued Sorensen. “It must be a priority for the U.S. government, at all levels, to seek advice and recommendations on initiatives impacting the fight against modern slavery from those with first-hand knowledge – victims and survivors of human trafficking. This Council can ensure that all survivors are advocated for in the government, no matter their age, nationality, or how they were trafficked.”
Human trafficking is a thriving criminal industry, with traffickers making billions in profits by using force, fraud, or coercion to rob victims of their freedom. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of victims forced to provide commercial sex, labor, or services against their will in the United States. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, operated by Polaris, has received reports of more than 18,500 cases of human trafficking from the United States.
People can receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking by calling theNational Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending atext to Polaris at “BeFree” (233733).