Combating Human Traffickingby Representative Ann M. Kuster
Posted on 2015-01-26
KUSTER. Thank you, Judge Poe, and to my dear colleague, Ann
Wagner, and to all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for
tackling this issue.
I am proud to join my colleagues in passing these six commonsense bills [[Page H559]] which I have pushed for across the aisle to strengthen protections for victims of sex trafficking, and Judge Poe has done a great job setting the stage here for the child who is the victim of sex trafficking.
I think we all need to work on our language and our understanding. He is absolutely correct. I look forward to passing more of these reforms tomorrow and to continuing our bipartisan work together.
It saddens and astonishes me that in today's world, human trafficking remains such a serious problem both here at home and abroad. Throughout the world, thousands of women and underage children are being trafficked and forced to commit sexual acts against their will.
As Judge Poe so eloquently stated, rape, that is what we are talking about. It is sickening that individuals advertise and promote this heinous practice in order to make a quick profit. Representative Wagner's legislation, the SAVE Act, which I helped to cointroduce, would penalize individuals who knowingly host and sell advertisements for the commercial exploitation of minors and trafficking victims.
Last Congress, as she eloquently stated, I was very proud to reach across the aisle and join Representative Wagner to lead all House women--every single House woman Member, Republican and Democrat--in urging the Obama administration to push the United Nations Security Council to add Boko Haram to the Al-Qaida Sanctions List, following the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls threatened to be sold into sexual slavery by this terrorist group.
The horrific kidnapping of the female Nigerian school students captured the world's shock and horror; however, human trafficking is not just a foreign issue. Together, we can be a powerful bipartisan voice against the horrors of this and other instances of human trafficking.
Both Democrats and Republicans in the House understand the importance of working together to protect women and girls, and they know that trafficking isn't just a political issue, it is a human issue.
I have organized discussions on this topic back home in New Hampshire where I have heard from community leaders, law enforcement officials, academic researchers, advocates, and--most importantly and, frankly, most eloquently--the trafficking victims themselves about the ongoing occurrence of human and sex trafficking taking place right here in our own backyard.
Domestic child sex trafficking is a serious problem in the United States, with an estimated 293,000 American youth at risk of commercial sex trafficking and exploitation.
It is imperative that we pass these bills to help law enforcement rescue domestic victims, track down their exploiters, provide additional tools for prosecutors to treat trafficked minors as victims instead of criminals, and ensure access to protective services. Again, I commend Judge Poe for his eloquent description.
I applaud the House leadership for bringing to a vote these bipartisan bills to prevent trafficking and provide support to victims. As a mother, I honestly cannot even imagine the anguish and the pain that these families go through as they fight to bring their loved ones back home.
It is essential that we pass these bills and, moving forward, that we do everything together to support States' and countries' efforts to eliminate human trafficking.
Thank you, Representative Wagner, and to all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for organizing this worthy effort.