03.17.15

Victims’ Groups Continue Urging Senate Republicans To Take Politics Out Of Trafficking Debate

WASHINGTON (Monday, March 16, 2015) – Organizations dedicated to providing vital services to victims of human trafficking are urgently calling on Senate Republicans to work across the aisle and pass meaningful legislation to address a critical issue affecting thousands of Americans.

The call from groups representing children, trafficking victims, and survivors of domestic and sexual violence comes one day before the Senate casts a procedural vote on legislation containing controversial language authored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would restrict the access of victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation to needed health services. The language was not included in the comprehensive trafficking package reported by the Judiciary Committee last year under Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) leadership and it was not included in the companion bill passed by the House on voice vote earlier this year. Anti-trafficking and victims groups have been calling on Republicans since last week to pass legislation without the controversial language.

  • “On behalf of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, a coalition of thousands of organizations that represents millions of victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and the professionals who serve them, we write today to express our deep concern about the controversy of inserting the Hyde provision into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The House passed a version of that Act that did not include this new Hyde provision and we ask the Senate to do the same.” National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women (letter)
  • “Politics should not govern the options available to victims of sex trafficking -especially when such victims often have had their basic human rights taken away by criminals who had only their own agendas in mind.” Holly Austin Smith, trafficking survivor (statement)
  • “We implore the Senate to pass S. 178 without the inclusion of Hyde Amendment language, which would place limits on trafficking survivors’ access to vital health services.” Health Education, Advocacy, Linkage (letter)
  • “Under the abortion restriction that is included in the current version of the JVTA, trafficking survivors would be denied access to comprehensive health services. Women emerging from such detrimental exploitation need compassionate care and the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion. The inclusion of this provision in the bill harms women and it must be removed.” National Women’s Law Center (letter)
  • “[O]ur efforts are often stymied by a severe lack of services for youth… we urge you to find a path forward for the consideration of S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. We support the bipartisan provisions of this legislation, and we are eager for them to be considered, voted upon, and enacted. We urge you to reject any partisanship that would stand in the way of final passage.” National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (letter)
  • “For well over a decade, the work to combat modern slavery and human trafficking has been an example of Congress’s ability to put partisanship aside in the interest of tackling a difficult and seemingly intractable problem. That willingness to be thoughtful, practical, and balanced in approach has proven successful in this work, and made tremendous contributions to the fight against this heinous crime… We urge all members of the Senate to turn away from this divisive debate and find a bipartisan approach to this new initiative to protect and serve the needs of survivors.” Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (letter)
  • “We oppose the Hyde amendment and any extension of abortion restrictions because they disproportionately impact low-income women and communities of color and deny people the ability to make personal medical decisions. To be clear, the language in S.178 is even more extreme than current policy; it codifies the Hyde amendment as it relates to the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund and the fund is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders, not from tax dollars.” All*Above All (letter)

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