Wasserman Schultz Praises House Passage of Human Trafficking Legislation

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Washington, DC, May 19, 2015 | comments
Today marks a monumental step forward for human trafficking and sexual assault survivors all across the United States. This bipartisan legislation sends the message that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to eradicating these evil crimes by punishing those who commit or facilitate them and, most importantly, caring for survivors. Survivors of trafficking, child exploitation, and rape deserve the legal protection and resources necessary to rebuild their lives, and this Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act goes a long way in providing that. Today we help survivors take a step forward into the light and out of the darkness of human trafficking and sexual assault.
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Rep. Wasserman Schultz Co-authored or Led Three Bills that are Part of Omnibus Law

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) released the following statement on the House of Representatives’ passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 178). Rep. Wasserman Schultz had three pieces of legislation pass in the omnibus legislation: The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (H.R. 1257), The HERO Act (H.R. 1998), and The Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act (H.R. 398), which was led by Rep. Renee Ellmers (N.C. – 02).

“Today marks a monumental step forward for human trafficking and sexual assault survivors all across the United States. This bipartisan legislation sends the message that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to eradicating these evil crimes by punishing those who commit or facilitate them and, most importantly, caring for survivors. Survivors of trafficking, child exploitation, and rape deserve the legal protection and resources necessary to rebuild their lives, and this Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act goes a long way in providing that. Today we help survivors take a step forward into the light and out of the darkness of human trafficking and sexual assault.”

The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act encourages states to allow a woman to terminate the parental rights of a rapist. According to several studies, it is estimated there are between 25,000 and 32,000 rape-related pregnancies annually in the United States. A rapist pursuing parental or custody rights forces the rape survivor to have continued interaction with the rapist, which can have traumatic psychological effects on the survivor, making it more difficult for her to recover. Currently 21 states, including Washington D.C, have no statute allowing women who may want to keep their child to restrict or terminate parental rights of men who father through rape.

The HERO Act trains wounded military veterans to aid law enforcement in investigating child exploitation. The Human Exploitation Rescue Operations (HERO) Act is aimed at training and hiring wounded veterans for the H.E.R.O. (Human Exploitation Rescue Operative) Child-Rescue Corps, an elite group of cyber warriors trained to assist law enforcement in rescuing children from sexual exploitation and identifying the perpetrators of these crimes. Since 2003, ICE’s Operation Predator has initiated over 35,000 child exploitation investigations and arrested over 13,000 child predators. ICE identified 1,036 child victims in 2014 alone.

The Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act, authored by Rep. Renee Ellmers and co-led by Rep. Wasserman Schultz, trains health care providers in identifying and assisting victims of trafficking. 28% of trafficked women saw a healthcare professional while being held captive. Due to their unique and critical involvement with these victims, it is important that healthcare workers have the tested tools and skills to help those being trafficked.

“The significant problem of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in the United States, a problem even more pronounced in South Florida, deserves comprehensive solutions. All advocates and those working on the front lines must be equipped with the tools necessary to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation, as importantly as survivors must be equipped with the resources necessary to recover and pursue justice. This package of bills does just that, and I am thrilled to have authored and led on three pieces of legislation in it.

Our sons and daughters deserve to live in a world where they cannot be sold as property or manipulated by abusers. As a Member of Congress and as a mother, I will continue to work on building this world.”

Florida’s problems with human trafficking are well-documented. As noted in many publications, the U.S. Justice Department identified South Florida as the third-busiest area for sex-trafficking in the United States, and the state ranks third in the nation for calls to a national trafficking hotline.

 

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Sean Bartlett, Sean.Bartlett@mail.house.gov, 202.225.7931

Geoff Burgan, Geoff.Burgan@mail.house.gov, 202.225.7931

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