Slavery in This Week’s News

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. The New York Times. “A Shift on Violence Against Women.”

2. U.S. Department of Labor. “A Champion in the Fight against Child Labor.”

3. The Huffington Post. “Underground Trade Part Five: Taken into China (Human Trafficking).”

4. The New York Times. “Children Toil in India´s Mines, Despite Legal Ban.”

5. Ghana Web. “60% of children in hazardous work found in agriculture.”

6. The CNN Freedom Project. “Lincoln inspiring today’s anti-slave activists.”

7. The Financial Times. “Samsung rejects child labour allegations.”

8. The Examiner. “Database lets Britons find slave-owning ancestors.”

9. UNICEF. “In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, helping children of the mines find a way out.”

10. The Seattle Times. “Bipartisanship saves Violence Against Women Act.”

tvpa house passage screen captureThere is terrific news to report today.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA or S.47), which includes the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA or Title XII of S.47).

The House vote was 286 in favor to 138 opposed, showing strong bipartisan support for keeping the federal government’s anti-slavery efforts on track.

The Senate passed the bill earlier this month. It now goes to President Obama, who has indicated he will sign it.

“We strongly applaud the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act by the House and Senate,” says Free the Slaves Executive Director Maurice I. Middleberg. “This legislation is the cornerstone of the American effort to combat the horrors of human slavery and trafficking.”

FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg

FTS Executive Director Maurice Middleberg

“This action by the Congress and the president’s signature will send a strong message to people in slavery that help is on the way. It restores America’s reputation as a world leader in combating human trafficking at home and abroad,” Middleberg says.

The TVPA was first passed in 2000 to authorize a wide range of federal action to combat slavery at home and abroad — from prosecuting traffickers, to providing shelter for slavery survivors, to preventing vulnerable people from enslavement in the first place. It must be reauthorized every few years.

The bill had lapsed during the 112th Congress, which adjourned in January. Winning reauthorization for the law in the current 113th Congress has been a top priority for Free the Slaves and other organizations that are members of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST).

ATEST logoAdvocacy efforts behind the scenes by ATEST and its member organizations — and an overwhelming display of grassroots support for the TVPRA from people who contacted their congressional representatives this month — were critical.

Members of Congress responded. They attached the TVPRA to VAWA, and then shepherded the combined bill to final approval. Combining the two made sense — many of the factors that spark violence against women also lead to trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“This is an important step toward freedom for the millions of women, men and children around the globe who are trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery each year,” says David Abramowitz, director of ATEST and vice president for policy & government relations, Humanity United.

Thanks to all who took a stand by taking action!

Momentum is building to win House approval for reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Our Capitol Hill advocates expect that today will be critical.

They need your help. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) has been combined with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The combined law has already been passed by the Senate, and President Obama has indicated he will sign it.

The last step is the House. There is a “substitute amendment” that will come up for a vote first. The anti-slavery movement wants the House to vote NO.

Then, the Senate-passed version of the combined bill will come to a vote. The anti-slavery movement wants the House to vote YES.

If you haven’t reached out to your House of Representatives member, there is still time to do so this morning. Call, e-mail, Tweet or Facebook them now!  Calling is best, and here’s what to say:

Hello. My name is ________. I am a constituent from __________.

I am calling to urge Representative _______________ to vote NO on the Substitute Amendment to S. 47, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and YES on the final passage of S. 47.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) expired in September 2011 and unless it is renewed, critical federal programs and the victims they support will be at risk. The S. 47 Substitute Amendment does not include the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which was included in S. 47 as passed by the Senate.

Reauthorization of the TVPA must be a national priority. Therefore, I am asking Representative ________ to vote NO on the Substitute Amendment to S.47 and YES on the final passage of S.47.

You can find the contact information for your House member on the upper right corner of the House of Representatives website.

Thanks for taking action.

capitol 1 tfWe need your immediate help to bring a major, three-year anti-trafficking action to a successful close – today!

Please call, text, tweet, Facebook or e-mail your representative in the U.S. House.

Ask them to vote NO on any proposed floor amendments to bill S.47 — the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)– that don’t include the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).  Then also ask that they vote YES on the Senate-passed version of S. 47, which also includes renewal of Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

It’s a simple message. The Senate has combined the anti-trafficking act and the violence against women act. We need the House to keep the combination intact, and pass the combined bill.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act has strong bi-partisan support. It is the U.S. government’s main framework for combating human trafficking at home and abroad.  Congress allowed the act to expire at the end of the last session — the first time that has happened since the law was initially passed in 2000.

Your representative must hear from you.  Find your representative simply by typing your zip code into the top right corner of the House of Representatives webpage.

Remember the message: Vote NO on any substitute amendments to VAWA (S.47) that don’t include the anti-trafficking legislation.  Vote YES on the Senate-passed version of VAWA (S.47), which includes the TVPA.

With quick action on February 12th, you took action to help the TVPA pass the Senate.  Now let’s get the job done! Get this vital legislation passed by the House and onto the President’s desk for signing.



Tina Frundt has always believed in the power of creative thinking — it helped her survive sex trafficking and become a grassroots anti-slavery leader.

Her creativity has recently caught the media spotlight, allowing Tina an opportunity to show a global audience that freedom and recovery are possible for slavery survivors.

You may remember Tina as the 2010 recipient of the Free the Slaves Frederick Douglass Freedom Award. She was 14 when she was lured from her home in Chicago by an older man and forced into child prostitution.

Since her escape, she has continued to help others break free. She was featured on WUSA-TV in Washington this month, urging parents to talk to their children about sex slavery. Tina warns it could happen to anyone, anywhere.

“If you’re not explaining it, a trafficker’s explaining it to your child and he’s not telling the truth when he’s explaining it,” Tina says.

Today, Tina runs Courtney’s House, a shelter dedicated to rehabilitating survivors of sex trafficking. At night, she and her team walk the streets of Washington in search of victims. She secretly hands them a trinket, containing a hotline number. She says she’s simply doing what nobody did for her.

Tina shared her story at a recent TEDx event. She recounts that, even as a child being bounced around in the foster care system, she came up with ideas to help others, and herself.

“I was always being creative,” she says, “I was always thinking outside the box.”

Tina was also featured late last year on an AOL web series: You’ve Got.

She is an extraordinary example of how valuable it can be when slavery survivors become leaders for the movement.

“When you turn your life around, you try to get rid of the things that you think are negative,” says Tina. “Instead of changing who I was, I changed the way I thought, and did it in a positive way.”