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An Act of Justice: Reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

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We are not powerless. We can make a difference. In the fight against slavery, the focus is often on education and awareness, but this is not enough. We must raise our voices and let our politicians know that the United States must recommit to putting resources into ending trafficking. On October 11, 2011, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) expired in Congress.

The TVPRA is the cornerstone of all U.S. efforts to combat modern-day slavery, including protecting survivors, and prosecuting traffickers. Every few years the law needs to be reauthorized, allowing innovations and improvements to be added to the original law.

Why is this law so critical? Here is just one example: in 2010, a woman had been enslaved for 18 years as a domestic servant in Saudi Arabia where she endured beatings and sexual abuse. Her traffickers brought her with them on vacation to the United States on a B-2 visa. When she received this visa, the U.S. consulate provided her with a pamphlet about human trafficking with a number to call for help. She was freed three days after she arrived in Los Angeles because she called the number in the pamphlet and was connected to a local service provider, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). This pamphlet was the direct result of the TVPRA.

The failure of Congress to reauthorize the TVPRA threatens U.S. global leadership in the fight against modern-day slavery and jeopardizes the progress made over the last decade. There is still a chance that the Senate will take up the TVPRA before this session of Congress ends. Visit http://www.passtvpranow.org and find out how to take action. Take 30 seconds to call your Senator and ask them to support the TVPRA.

As we celebrate 150 years of Lincoln’s act of justice, we should each commit to one of our own to fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is Director of North American Programs for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America.

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