An update from Advocacy Chair, Katherin Park:
Here at NYC Women of Vision, TVPRA, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, has been the main focus of our advocacy efforts for about a year and a half. It was been a slow process to gain support from our legislators in an effort to get this bill passed with unanimous support as it did for the past 3 times since it was originally signed into law in 2000. Although it has been a frustrating process (because it's hard for us to understand why our legislators do not see the urgency to reauthorize this bill), we have witnessed a steady stream of small, yet significant victories in the fight against human trafficking.
Women of Vision, alongside World Vision and many other NGOs, have worked tirelessly to keep pressure on our senators so that this bill was not forgotten in the midst of a presidential election year. We are happy to report that there are now 20 additional senators who are co-sponsors of TVPRA (a total of 54 co-sponsors)! At least 4 of those senators became a co-sponsor as a direct result of about 200 Women of Vision members who met with their respective legislators and their aides in Washington D.C. in March.
Along with like minded individuals, NGOs, and faith-based groups, we continued our calling campaigns and signing petitions throughout the summer into fall. These efforts not only gained the attention and support of 20 senators, but that of President Obama. In September of this year, President Obama spoke on the issue of modern day slavery during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and promised that the United States will continue to be a leader in fight against human trafficking. (Link for the speech: President Obama addresses the issue of human trafficking at the Clinton Global Initiative, September 2012)
We are now at a very critical point in the effort to pass this bill. There has been recent support from a Hollywood celebrity, Jada Pinkett Smith, and the largest group of Jewish clergy, the reformed rabbis to pass TVPRA. Although this bill currently has 54 co-sponsors, we need more Republican senators to sign on as co-sponsors so that this bill has true bi-partisan support. Women of Vision recently heard that TVPRA may come up for a vote in the Senate soon.
It would be an awesome Christmas gift if the senators can all come together to pass this bill so that we can continue the fight against modern slavery in a more effective manner. Won't you take a few minutes to think of friends and family members who live in states that have Republican senators (especially those senators who are not yet a co-sponsor) and pass along this information?
Please urge them to make a phone call to their senators and share with them just how much this bill needs to pass. Use Facebook, Twitter, emails, and even phone calls to ask your family and friends to get involved so that we can all celebrate in getting TVPRA, S 1301, passed in 2012!
To read about Jada Pinkett Smith's support: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/speaking-out/2012/nov/16/jada-pinkett-smith-joins-legislators-survivors-adv/
To read about Reformed Rabbi's support: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/reform-rabbis-seek-congressional-passage-act-ensuring-human-trafficking-remains-federal-1730012.htm
To see the list of Republican senators: http://bit.ly/XXK8Pf
For additional information about TVPRA: http://womenofvision.org/2012/11/13/tvpra-update-taking-the-long-view/