Combating Human Traffickingby Representative Ted S. Yoho
Posted on 2015-01-26
YOHO. Mr. Speaker, I thank my distinguished colleague from the
great State of South Dakota.
I rise in solidarity with the growing coalition that is united in the global fight against human trafficking. The numbers are overwhelming. We have all heard the estimates of over 22 million people being trafficked worldwide; sometimes, though, they seem far away. People often say: That kind of stuff doesn't happen here. It happens overseas. It doesn't happen right here.
No, Mr. Speaker, this is happening in our own backyards. There is an estimate of over 1 million teenagers running away every year in the United States. Runaways are most at risk and vulnerable to trafficking. In fact, runaways are typically picked up and pimped out or trafficked within the first 48 hours.
Just 5 days ago in my home State of Florida, a 15-year-old girl was discovered by police in a motel being sexually abused and trafficked several times a day. Her parents had been handing out missing child flyers in the neighborhood. Luckily, someone recognized her picture from an online ad and contacted authorities. That young girl went from being a runaway to a trafficking victim in less than a month.
That precious 15-year-old child could have been anybody's child. It could have been yours or mine. However, it is not just runaways that become victims of trafficking. Traffickers don't discriminate based on economic class, race, gender, or age. Traffickers are motivated by profit, solely profit.
The average cost of a slave worldwide is roughly $90. Human trafficking is a $30-plus billion industry, and it is the second largest source of revenue for terrorists around the world. As the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise, it is shocking how little people know about this horrendous practice. Furthermore, it is appalling how little is put forward in effort to stop it.
This week, the House of Representatives will pass a series of bills designed to streamline law enforcement resources, toughen penalties for offenders, and provide resources to victims. I commend the sponsors of these bills as well as all Members up here today who are willing to stand up and say enough [[Page H561]] is enough. Human trafficking is not a Republican or Democrat issue. Taking a stand against trafficking is something we all must do, remembering that, while January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we must all be vigilant and active in our fight.
No, Mr. Speaker, your neighborhood and my neighborhood are not immune. No city is exempt, and these victims are part of our daily lives, quietly suffering with almost nowhere to turn. We cannot in good conscience continue our daily routines without making every effort to stamp out the practice of forced labor, domestic servitude, and sex trafficking.
I encourage all Americans to go to the Department of Homeland Security's Web site and watch the Blue Campaign video to become familiar with the common signs of human trafficking. Let's all work to stomp out this scourge of activity on humanity.