EPW-NYC signs letter to Congress to pass the
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act – S. 178
April 27, 2015
The Hon. John Boehner The Hon. Nancy Pelosi
Speaker Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:
We are an alliance of organizations and individual advocates from across the United States dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable women and children. We write to express our support for the Senate anti-trafficking package, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, as amended, S. 178 (JVTA package) recently voted out of the Senate unanimously. This package, which includes nearly all of the trafficking bills passed overwhelmingly by the House in January, would provide much needed services to victims of human trafficking and help ensure that child victims ensnared in the sex trade are no longer arrested and treated as criminals.
According to the FBI, over 80 percent of all confirmed sex trafficking cases in the U.S. involve U.S. citizens, yet across the country, victims still lack basic necessities. Simply stated, there are more animal shelters in our country than programs or beds for victims of trafficking. This critical legislation provides unprecedented support to victims, who for too long have endured arrest, imprisonment, and stigma for their victimization instead of support and services. The Senate package contains critical funding for housing and services – a crucial element the House companion lacks. Moreover, the legislation supports training for federal prosecutors and judges on the importance of requesting and ordering restitution, so that victims can receive the compensation they are rightly owed by law.
Every day in this country, thousands of women and children are bought and sold. The unfettered demand for sex has caused pimps and exploiters to resort to more extreme tactics in order to meet exploding demand. The JVTA package directs the Department of Justice to incorporate strategies for reducing demand into anti-trafficking training programs and sting operations, including Innocence Lost. Women and children, especially girls, are advertised online where buyers purchase them with ease and anonymity. This happens in every city, in every state. The JVTA package would help fight online exploitation and work to bring buyers of child sex to justice. It creates a new partnership with wounded warriors, training them to serve as online investigators of child pornography and exploitation.
Advocates know: this is the most comprehensive and thoughtful piece of anti-trafficking legislation in years. The JVTA package represents a tremendous bipartisan effort to provide necessary support and protections for our victims of human trafficking, and at long last ends the culture of impunity for those who purchase our most vulnerable for sex. But these victims have waited too long. After several years of advocacy and over a month of delay on the Senate side, we are just one step away from providing this population with justice and healing.
As leaders in the anti-trafficking, anti-violence, faith-based, child welfare, law enforcement, and human rights movements, we urge the House to take up and pass this vital legislation without delay.
Francesca Burack, President
Enterprising and Professional Women – NYC (EPW-NYC)
 Banks, D. and Kyckelhah, T., Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents, 2008-2010 (NCJ 233732), Bureau of Justice Statistics (2011) at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub