Working to End Modern-Day Slavery at Home and Overseas

On the occasion of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we are excited to share success stories about anti-trafficking strategies that bring us closer to ending modern-day slavery at home and overseas.

Over the past year, Vital Voices has joined local partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East to launch a spectrum of exciting initiatives, ranging from economic sustainability to legislative reform to international mentoring exchanges. 

Sustainability in Handcrafts: Local Training for Human Trafficking NGOs participants designing products for their presentations.

In July 2011, we successfully launched Sustainability in Handcrafts: Local Training for Human Trafficking NGO, leveraging the expertise and success of our Economic Empowerment and Development team. We developed this pilot program in response to requests from NGO partners working with trafficking survivors and with populations vulnerable to trafficking, who expressed interest in gaining financial independence in order to provide more services to the increasing number of survivors who need them. To meet this need, we combined both teams’ expertise to enhance business skills among our non-profit partners in Cambodia, who operate income-generating activities in the handcraft sector that offer livelihood skills to trafficking survivors. We are currently exploring opportunities to engage and foster relationships with high profile networks, which will enable further growth in their customer base. 

Prosecutors, Judges, Law Enforcement and NGO service providers working in teams at the Institute to Investigate and Prosecute Human Trafficking in Cameroon.

Since late 2010, Vital Voices has been working with leaders from government, law enforcement, and civil society in Cameroon to strengthen government response to prosecuting trafficking in persons. We initiated a dialogue about the importance of comprehensive, victim-centered legislation. Last month, the government, in consultation with its various ministries, expanded Cameroon’s current anti-trafficking framework by criminalizing trafficking of children and adults for sexual or labor exploitation. The law successfully passed the Parliament and is awaiting final promulgation. 

As we celebrate these and other successes in the fight against modern-day slavery, we remain concerned that Congress failed to reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which Congress has previously and successfully renewed three times with overwhelming bipartisan support, before its expiration in September 2011. The reauthorization is facing a troubling impasse. With our colleagues in the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, we urge Congress to put politics aside and reauthorize the TVPA. At this critical time, we cannot jeopardize efforts at home and overseas to prevent trafficking, protect survivors and punish traffickers.