End Modern Slavery Initiative Actby Senator Bob Corker
Posted on 2015-12-17
CORKER. Mr. President, I also rise to applaud Congress for
including important funding in the Omnibus appropriations bill that
will help in our efforts to fight human trafficking and slavery around
the world through the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act.
I think most Americans would be stunned to know that over 27 million people are enslaved in more than 187 countries, including our own. Over 27 million people are enslaved today. That is more than four times the population of my home State of Tennessee.
Modern slavery comes in many forms and it preys on women and children the most. This brutal, multibillion-dollar industry deprives individuals of their basic human rights. Rather than holding a schoolbook, children in India are stacking bricks. Rather than sitting in a classroom, young girls in the Philippines are sitting in brothels forced into sexual servitude. In Ghana, young boys are forced into a life of slavery on fishing boats, and worldwide men and women hoping only to better the lives of their families are stripped of their passports and trafficked for labor.
I cannot thank the Senator from Texas enough for the incredible efforts he put forth to ensure that we do everything we can in our own country to keep this from happening. He has been heroic.
These are our daughters, sons, mothers and fathers, and that is why it is so important that we take bold action. Those who have been fighting this heinous crime for years all say that to end the practice of modern slavery, we need a reliable baseline data and consistent, effective monitoring and evaluation. They also say that what is most critical in this fight is the need for a focused, sustained effort that can leverage and coordinate private and government funding. That is where the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act comes into play.
This bold, bipartisan initiative has received broad support from over 90 industry experts, nongovernmental organizations, and faith-based groups. This initiative will seek to raise $1.5 billion--more than 80 percent of which is expected to come through matching funds from private sector and foreign governments--to fight slavery worldwide. This model is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to focus resources responsibly where this crime is most prevalent.
The Omnibus appropriations bill that we will vote on this week brings us one step closer to making this initiative a reality with a $25 million downpayment. There are many complex problems facing this country that demand our attention but perhaps none whose existence threatens the very concept of what it means to live in a free society. Ending modern slavery and human trafficking will not come easy, but we have a moral obligation to try, and I am proud--really proud--that Congress is taking that step and investing in this critical fight.
With that, I yield the floor and thank the Senator from Texas for allowing me to speak at this time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). The Senator from Texas.