(Photo: Ruth Malhotra)
An important anti-slavery bill is heading to President Barack Obama's desk after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), aimed at tackling the $32 billion trafficking enterprise.
"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," said David Abramowitz, Director of ATEST and Vice President for Policy & Government Relations, Humanity United, one of the groups backing the Senate-approved bill.
"We applaud Senators Leahy and Rubio for their steadfast leadership in the fight against modern slavery and we look forward to seeing President Obama sign this cornerstone anti-trafficking measure into law."
Slavery around the world has reached unprecedented numbers, with 27 million people believed to be living as modern-day slaves, mostly in underdeveloped regions, but also in the West, including in America.
The TVPRA bill will allow federal anti-trafficking programs to continue functioning for the next four years, which will provide new partnerships with cooperating countries to protect children and prevent trafficking, explained the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), the coalition behind the bill.
The original law expired back in 2011, leaving the global fight against human trafficking at risk. Congress corrected this problem today, however, with the bipartisan law passing the House by a vote of 286 to 138. Last month it also passed the Senate with an overwhelming 93-5 vote.
"Today's action is a victory for us all to celebrate," added Mary Ellison, director of Policy at the Polaris Project, which is concerned with stopping violence against women.
"This legislation is critical to protecting human trafficking survivors and stopping the perpetrators of violence, exploitation and enslavement. All across the United States, hundreds of thousands of human trafficking victims are trapped and waiting to be free. Congress has sent a message that these people deserve our best efforts to find them, protect them, and hold their traffickers accountable," Ellison added.
Last week, The Justice Conference in Philadelphia, Pa.,encouraged Christians to seek not only to change the world, but to allow for justice to change their own lives.
"A lot of people are wondering if justice is just a fad," said Ken Wytsma, who founded the annual conference three years ago. But he said he is encouraged that today's generation of Christians want a deeper understanding of justice.
The conference warned Christians from developing a hero complex and becoming "intoxicated" with justice, turning it into just another fad rather than devoting themselves to persistence, determination and hard work.
A major pastoral voice in the fight against global slavery has been Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Roswell, Ga., whose annual worship and renewal event Passion 2013 attracted 60,000 young Christians to the Georgia Dome in January.
On Wednesday, supporters of the movement went quiet on social media websites, some blacking out their profiles in support of the many men, women and children victims.
"In that cause, they wanted to lift their voices for those who have no voice," Giglio said of the students at Passion 2013, who raised over $3 million for the cause in the four days that the event went on for.
"Not only did [the students] raise money … they want to bring awareness to the nation for people who have no clue that this is going on," the Passion City pastor added.