February 12, 2013
Portman, Blumenthal Amendment Approved by Senate in VAWA Debate
Washington, D.C. – Today, less than four months after U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) launched the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, the caucus secured a second legislative victory as the Senate voted 100-0 in support of their amendment to allow child victims of sex trafficking to benefit from youth victims programs set up under S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The Caucus was created in November 2012 as a forum for senators to come together to combat human trafficking by promoting awareness, removing demand, supporting prosecution efforts, and providing appropriate service systems for survivors. In December, the Caucus scored a major first victory when Portman and Blumenthal’s End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S.2234) was signed into law by the President as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. That legislation strengthened the prohibitions against trafficking in connection with overseas federal contracts.
Today, Portman and Blumenthal secured passage of an amendment to ensure that child victims of sex trafficking are eligible to receive help under VAWA grants. Section 302 of VAWA authorizes grants to enhance the safety of youth and children who are victims of, or exposed to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This amendment adds “sex trafficking” as a criterion for victims services in Section 302.
“After working together to advance a plan to help end human trafficking for almost a year, Senator Blumenthal and I decided to organize the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking in November 2012 to augment our legislative efforts and highlight the need to both prevent human trafficking and protect victims of these horrendous crimes,” said Portman. “Since then, our bipartisan legislation to enhance existing protections against trafficking in connection with overseas government contractors was signed into law by the President, and two amendments were successfully added to the Violence Against Women Act. Although we are making swift strides in the fight against human trafficking, we still have a long way to go, and I will continue to find avenues to combat this issue.”
“The signing into law of the End Trafficking In Government Contracting Act last Congress, and today’s Senate passage of an amendment to help child victims of sex trafficking, are proof that the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking is doing what Senator Portman and I intended it to do – raising awareness about this pernicious problem and generating bipartisan support for legislative efforts to end it," said Blumenthal. “Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – a heinous crime that occurs across the nation and the world. I will continue to introduce and advocate for legislative measures to address this important issue.”
“ATEST applauds Senators Portman and Blumenthal for their ongoing leadership in the fight to end human trafficking. Sex trafficking victims suffer repeated sexual assault, but often are not properly identified and therefore do not receive the specialized services they need. Acknowledging sex trafficking in the list of crimes that youth experience is an important step in more effectively addressing this critical issue,” said David Abramowitz, Director of The Alliance To End Slavery & Trafficking (ATEST) and Vice President for Policy & Government Relations, Humanity United. “We should also recognize that labor trafficking victims also face sexual assault during their exploitation. We look forward to working with the sponsors and all interested groups that support help for all those who face these horrific crimes as this legislation moves forward.”
Portman and Blumenthal also applauded the Senate’s passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which Caucus members had cosponsored. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) secured adoption of the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) as part of the VAWA debate, to enhance efforts to combat human trafficking within the United States and internationally. TVPA provides a three-pronged approach to fight human trafficking that includes prevention, protection for victims, and prosecution of those engaged in this form of modern-day slavery. Portman and Blumenthal were cosponsors of this amendment.