Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, and/or coercion for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor and, under federal and state law, does not require movement of people across borders. 

It is believed there are currently 27 million slaves worldwide. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are victims of human trafficking in the U.S. annually, 100,000-300,000 of which are children.   

Human trafficking is a hidden crime that is seriously underreported. Within the U.S., both citizens and foreign nationals – women, men, teenagers, and children – can fall prey to traffickers who may threaten their lives and those of their families, isolate victims, and make it impossible for them to escape. According to federal law, human trafficking includes sex and labor trafficking.

In 2000, the 106th Congress passed the first comprehensive federal law addressing human trafficking – the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) – that required the U.S.  Department of State to release an annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report to monitor trafficking globally among other critical measures in the bill. The TVPA has been reauthorized many times, last in 2013, with many meaningful improvements including a 2003 provision that urged states to set up systems to combat trafficking for the first time within U.S. borders.

A growing understanding of the nature of trafficking in persons has led to new innovations in addressing demand. Corporate standards for monitoring supply chains and government policies for eliminating trafficking from procurement practices are making new inroads in the fight against modern slavery. But the fact remains: if there were no demand for commercial sex, trafficking in persons for commercial sexual exploitation would not exist in the form it does today. This reality underscores the need for continued strong efforts to reduce demand for sex trafficking by enacting policies and promoting cultural attitudes that reject the idea of paying for sex.

President Obama has made the fight to end modern day slavery a priority of his administration. Indeed, he directed the White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Community Partnerships to focus on ending human trafficking. And, the President created the Interagency Taskforce to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking to ensure the federal government’s response to human trafficking is coordinated and effective as outlined in the report of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-day Slavery.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs believes that:

The community relations field should:

  1. consequences to those benefitting from slaves, including those using the services and the perpetrators; and
  2. restitution and rehabilitation for survivors.
    • Coordination among law enforcement at both the federal and state levels; Attorney Generals to issue directives and train local law enforcement in identifying and responding to human trafficking accusations and in providing support to survivors; and separate trafficking courts in the states with trained judges, attorneys, and law enforcement.
    • Local businesses, television stations, law enforcement, educators, and all first responders to publicize the national hotline number.
    • Shelters and safe houses in communities for victims of trafficking.
    • Education in elementary, middle and high schools to raise awareness about human trafficking.

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