Today, January 11, is Human Trafficking Awareness day. As part of January’s National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, many nonprofits and citizens are planning efforts to spread awareness and solidarity.
One such effort is encouraging President Obama to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2008. The Act authorized appropriations to combat modern slavery and human trafficking until 2011. The Act, named after William Wilberforce, an 18th century slave trade abolitionist, focused on both the international trade and that within the United States. Another integral aspect was an effort to prevent child soldiers and prohibit funding any organizations that would support armed militia under 18 years old. Currently, there is no legislation encouraging the prevention of human or other trafficking efforts.
This year is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation Act, freeing the Confederate slaves and those in the rebellious states forever. Even Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Lincoln premiered to commemorate this incredible act of justice. In 2008, President Obama was sworn in using the same bible that former President Lincoln used in his swearing in ceremony. This year, President Obama will take the oath of President on the traveling bible used by Martin Luther King Jr. marking the 50th anniversary of the infamous March on Washington.
There are no excuses. He must stick to his promises of making human trafficking prevention a top priority. In September, the President said, that human trafficking “must be called by its true name: modern slavery” and outlined steps the White House is taking to combat the exploitation of children and workers.
So, this month, let’s stand up to injustice. We must do everything in our power to encourage Congress to renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and to continue our efforts domestically and abroad.